Gov. Tim Walz said Monday that millions of Minnesotans should expect to get the novel coronavirus before the pandemic is over, but also making the critically important note that the vast majority of those who get it will recover.
"Before we're done with this, each and everyone of us will be touched by this, probably very personally," said Walz, speaking from the governor's mansion in self-quarantine after being exposed to a member of his security detail who has COVID-19.
"The numbers run pretty high that over the course of this that between 40 and 80 percent of Minnesotans will have become infected with COVID-19," he said. "The vast majority will recover without hospitalization. Those that need it, we need to ensure they're able to get it. This whole battle is about bending the curve, lengthening out the time of an infection rate."
Walz has not yet reached into his toolbox for an executive order that would mandate Minnesotans stay at home for all non-essential activity, but he is continually reviewing data to determine if a shelter-in-place order would prove an effective strategy to slow the outbreak and help keep Minnesota hospitals from being overwhelmed.
States to already issue a stay-at-home order: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio and West Virginia.
Wisconsin will also go under a stay-at-home order beginning Tuesday.
"This is a very hard decision," Walz said. "The lack of data is what people are seeing and I think they're [other states] making their best judgement that with the lack of data this is the way to go."
Where will the data from modeling currently being developed by state leaders lead?
"It's certainly possible or probable that we're going to come to the same conclusion," said Walz, referring to other states' issuing stay-at-home orders. Such an order in Minnesota would likely be for an extended period of time.
"This will not be able to be a shelter in place for a week to two weeks. It will probably have to look more like multiple weeks to months to get the desired effect of slowing it down," said Walz.
"More businesses would close, social interactions would be much more restricted than they are," he added, noting that essential businesses would remain open, including grocery stores and pharmacies.
"Forty to 80 percent of us will eventually get this (the virus), even if we shut it down now."
Currently there are only 235 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Minnesota, but health officials say the true number is significantly higher, as there aren't enough tests available to determine the true figure.