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Walz: Minnesota's COVID-19 outbreak could be 8-10 days behind New York

There are more than 2,300 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in New York.
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The National Guard assisting with drive-up COVID-19 in New Rochelle, New York on March 14. 

No state in America has more confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus than New York's 2,382 – a status where Minnesota could find within a week or so, according to Gov. Tim Walz. 

During a news conference Wednesday, Walz estimated that Minnesota is 8-10 days behind New York in terms of case count, which as of 8 p.m. Tuesday Minnesota was at 77 confirmed cases of COVID-19. 

"I certainly don't want to alarm Minnesotans, but as you're watching this unfold in places like New York – that are estimated to be 8 days ahead of us, where they might be 8-10 days – and in Seattle and San Francisco, steps that are being taken there ... those are all potential things," said Walz. 

New York City and San Francisco, for example, have mandatory shelter in place orders that restrict residents from leaving their homes as part of their continued attempts to mitigate the spread of the virus. Walz said he could issue a similar order for Minnesotans if the outbreak warrants it. 

"At this time, there's not an intention [for a shelter in place order]," he said, adding that "last Friday we didn't think there would be immediate need to close schools, last Saturday we didn't think there would be a immediate need to close bars, so that's kind of the speed of this."

Minnesota's case count of 77 does not include results from approximately 1,700 untested samples, which sit in waiting due to a lack of testing capacity at the Minnesota Department of Health. 

"We're making the assumptions that there are far more than 77 cases out there. If I tested the 1,700 at the rate that we're going now we would expect to find another 100 or so," said Walz.

Minnesotans, meanwhile, are encouraged to practice social distancing, stay home when sick no matter what, and avoid large gatherings.

Due to a lack of testing capacity, the Minnesota Department of Health has only been testing samples from healthcare workers, those who require hospitalization, and those in congregant living situations such as long-term care.

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