Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz did not issue further restrictions during his Tuesday press call, but he made it sound like Wednesday will be the day he orders additional measures to slow the rapid spread of COVID-19.
"It takes a little bit of time. We need to make sure that we're listening and seeing and hearing exactly what's on the ground and then issuing those orders," Walz said. "We just want to make sure to do our best to do it in an orderly fashion and the orders are based on data, based on science and are easy to understand."
Former Minnesota State Representative Nick Zerwas (R-Elk River) was on the press call to tell his story about being in the ICU with a nasty case of COVID-19. He expressed urgency for the governor to announce greater restrictions as soon as possible.
"I have been a critic when the cases didn't rise to the level that I thought it would need to be to lock things down. I would disagree with my previous concerns. There is absolutely nothing akin to what's happening in November of 2020 in Minnesota to concerns that I or others had in June or July. This is a completely different ballgame. Everything has changed, the virus is here. If we don't act now, God help us," said Zerwas.
Walz did confirm that new guidance for youth and high school sports will be issued to Minnesotans on Wednesday. Walz said it's likely that sports will be put on "pause," including the high school football playoffs.
"It will impact across the board. Yeah, again I'm not going to play coy with folks. I think they can probably anticipate that," he said. "There will be other issues that we're talking about tomorrow."
The looming decisions from Walz are based on an incredible surge in cases throughout Minnesota, and Walz expects the numbers to "exponentially grow over the next couple of weeks." Minnesota has seen between 5,000 and 9,000 new cases every day for the past week, and the number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 has nearly tripled since late October, going from 580 Oct. 24 to a record high of 1,669 as of Nov. 16.
"The hospital space is going to become much more of a concern over the next three weeks. That is assured," said Walz, adding that the healthcare system is currently "strained" and that announcements he makes Wednesday will be aimed at preventing the hospital situation reaching crisis level.
"We can hold it before it reaches that point where we're at crisis," said Walz, adding that it's up to Minnesotans following social distancing guidelines, masking and avoiding large gatherings.
Walz didn't identity any specific areas that will be targeted by tightened restrictions, but he did say there will be much beyond youth sports to discuss.
"The velocity that this is moving now compared to any other time is simply stunning," said Walz. "I just want to be totally candid with folks. Everything that gets directed toward these small businesses is awful, and it's nothing that we want to do. This is in the name of public health."
"This is as bad as it was in New York in the spring," he added.