Tribune Opinion: Walz's stay-at-home extension was the right decision
Summary: Now is not the time to weaken the state's strategy in the fight against this invisible virus enemy.
Gov. Tim Walz Wednesday extended Minnesota's stay-at-home order until May 4 based upon data and expert advice.
The governor's decision was the correct one for Minnesotans.
Walz continues to demonstrate the critical leadership needed in Minnesota during this coronavirus pandemic, despite growing Republican pushback.
Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka tweeted Thursday "I do not approve of the Governor's unilateral decision to continue the order to shelter at home until May 4th. We have to get on with our lives."
Gazelka's criticism Thursday of the stay-at-home order is disappointing.
The pandemic's spread in Minnesota is far from over.
On Wednesday, three coronavirus cases were confirmed at the hospital in Staples, which is just adjacent to Gazelka's Senate district.
Eleven more deaths were recorded Thursday in Minnesota by the Minnesota Department of Health, which was the highest one-day total since the pandemic started. There were another seven deaths announced Friday. That brings the state's total pandemic death total to 57.
Now is not the time to weaken the state's strategy in this fight against this invisible virus enemy.
The current stay-at-home order is working in Minnesota.
The facts prove it.
Minnesota has a confirmed case rate of about 17 per 100,000 people, which is the lowest in the United States, according to a Star Tribune story.
The predicted COVID-19 death estimate for Minnesota over the next four months has now dropped from 932 to 625, according to forecasting by the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
The IMHE's latest projected death per million of population estimates: Minnesota 80.9; Iowa 179.1; South Dakota 213.6 and North Dakota 681.9. It should be noted that Minnesota is the only one of the four with a state-at-home order.
Minnesota's success in slowing the spread and flattening the curve of coronavirus infections is working. The state should not waive from this strategy.
This slowing is allowing Minnesota to better prepare during this critical time. The state is racing to gather critical supplies, increase testing capabilities and prepare for any increase in a wave of patients.
There is no doubt of the heavy economic toll the pandemic is having on the Minnesota economy. No one wants to see businesses opened up in Minnesota more than those recently unemployed.
However, making the wrong guess or taking action too soon puts Minnesota at risk for increased deaths, overwhelmed hospitals, medical supply shortages and extended economic consequences.
Certainly, the Walz administration needs to begin planning for its long-term strategy of putting Minnesota back to work and helping businesses restart our economic engine.
In the meantime, Walz should stick with the advice of the experts — public health officials and epidemiologists. The governor should not waiver to the pushback from the pandemic deniers like Gazelka, who, like climate change skeptics and deniers, ignore science and data reality.
The overwhelming opinion of public health officials and epidemiologists is that states with stay-at-home orders in place are doing better in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
"The trajectory of the pandemic will change — and dramatically for the worse — if people ease up on social distancing or relax with other precautions," Dr. Christopher Murray said Tuesday at the University Washington.
The disastrous risk of this pandemic remains. Now is not the time for Minnesotans to relax their guard.
Please stay-at-home and follow social distancing recommendations during this Easter weekend and keep your family and community safe.
This editorial is the opinion of the West Central Tribune’s editorial board consisting of publisher Steve Ammermann and editor Kelly Boldan.