Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has issued an executive order directing Minnesotans to stay at home for two weeks in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic Wednesday afternoon.
Walz made the announcement in a 2 p.m. address from his residence, during a daily update on the pandemic with state health officials.
The stay at home order goes into effect Friday night at 11:59 p.m.
Walz shuttered bars and restaurants on March 17, but had taken a cautious approach to imposing additional restrictions on Minnesota residents and businesses. Some states have imposed shelter-in-place orders, but Walz said Tuesday that he was hoping to find a “smarter and more targeted way to respond.”
The Democratic governor also warned that the fight would extend “well beyond Easter.”
The state’s count of confirmed COVID-19 cases rose to 287 on Wednesday, up 25 from a day earlier, with 26 hospitalized cases, up 11 from Tuesday. Officials have stressed that the real total of Minnesota residents with the disease is much higher because many people don’t qualify for testing. But more than 11,000 people have now been tested in Minnesota, the Health Department said.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
In other developments, Minnesota lawmakers were preparing to return to the Capitol on Thursday to beef up the state’s fight against COVID-19 and help residents cope with the economic hardships. Details of the relief package have not been announced.
Also, Minneapolis-based Target announced new measures Wednesday to protect shoppers and store employees. Checkout lanes will be cleaned after each sale. New signs and floor decals will encourage shoppers to keep their distance from each other. Target will suspend sales of reusable bags and ask guests who bring their own bags to pack their own items at checkout. Also, Target will stop accepting in-store merchandise returns and exchanges for three weeks, though it will honor returns that expire during that period.