Gov. Tim Walz is set to make a decision this week on whether he will extend the statewide emergency in response to COVID-19 for another month.
The state has been under an emergency since Mar. 13, giving Walz powers to enact emergency orders to respond quickly to the pandemic without having to go through the Legislature, and gives the state access to federal emergency funding.
But he has come increasingly under criticism from Minnesota Republicans for not bringing the emergency to an end, with Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka among those leading the calls.
Gazelka says he at the very least wants Walz this week to set benchmarks that the state would have to meet in order to end the emergency.
Gazelka has also criticized the fact that many school districts are reopening either with distance learning or a hybrid version of distance and in-person instruction, though the Walz Administration ultimately left the decision on how to reopen up to school districts, which Republicans had been calling for throughout the summer, albeit with their decisions based on state COVID-19 data.
In the event Walz extends the emergency, it would trigger another Special Session of the Legislature. During recent Special Sessions, the GOP-controlled Senate has voted to end the emergency, only for it to be blocked by the DFL-controlled House.
Positive cases have been trending upwards in Minnesota over the past six weeks despite the introduction of a statewide mask mandate, however Minnesota has not seen the huge spikes in cases seen in neighboring states – namely Iowa and the Dakotas – that don't have mask mandates, and have few to zero capacity restrictions on businesses.
Deaths from COVID-19 have also been on the rise again in Minnesota, albeit are still significantly lower than the highs seen during May and early June.
Every state in the country still has some form of emergency in place, according to the National Governors Association, while a national emergency declared by President Donald Trump stays in place in response to the virus, which has killed an estimated 189,000 American residents.