Apr 20, 2020
Tim Walz Minnesota COVID-19 Briefing Transcript April 20
Governor Tim Walz of Minnesota held a coronavirus briefing on April 20. He said business disruptions could last as long as 18 months in the state. Read the full speech transcript here.
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Tim Walz: (02:21)
Good afternoon everyone. Good afternoon, Minnesotans. Once again, thank you to the press corps for working on this pooling procedure to make sure that we have social distancing in sharing questions with one another. You’re going to hear from commissioner Malcolm. Once again, you’re going to see that Minnesota has started potentially now up the climb that we thought would come because we’ve had about five days of triple digits, and even though the testing at this point is not increased dramatically, those are still starting to show up, and of course our sympathies to the families. We’ve lost nine more of our neighbors. You’re also going to hear about our plans to procure the PPE and you’re going to hear from some of our private sector partners in just a bit. I’ll be talking about Ecolab CEO and chair Doug Baker and the work he’s doing with commissioner Alice Robert Davis in securing that.
Tim Walz: (03:24)
And then we will update you on the situation at the Worthington plant, which we’ll have commissioner Leping from the Department Of Labor And Industry and commissioner Peterson from agriculture, because there’s a lot of intersections there in addition to the Department Of Health. So thank you all for that. And once again Minnesotans, I would just tell you thank you for doing what was asked of you. We are still maintaining that ability to push the curve out, flatten it a little bit, which was a positive. And my guarantee to you was is if I asked the sacrifices of you that we would build the teams necessary to produce the hospital beds and the critical equipment necessary to weather a wave of COVID-19 related hospitalizations, and we are on our way to doing that. There’s more work to be done. And then also talked about how do we smartly put a Minnesota model together that allows us to do smart epidemiological testing, tracing and isolation, and put together teams of people who are able to figure out what are those industries that we can bring back in a safe manner.
Tim Walz: (04:25)
Making sure that we don’t get in a situation. While JBS was open, while Smithfield were open, they still are not immune from having clusters of infections that in the long run, if your workforce can’t come to work, it doesn’t matter whether you’re open or closed by state stay at home orders, the facts remain the same. I spent the morning talking to many of our state’s business leaders with Charlie Weaver in the Minnesota Business Partnership, and then spoke directly to one of our state’s largest retailers about what it’s going to take. And what I’m really encouraged about is the thinking and the innovation that’s going in. I think most of these retailers and businesses understand they’re going to have to change the way business is done for about the next 18 months. They’re going to have to do that regardless of what a stay at home order looks like because people are naturally understanding or going to have to social distance, and their shopping and their retail buying experience is going to change dramatically.
Tim Walz: (05:23)
As I keep saying, very few people are going to go in and try on clothes right now, whether a retail store is open or not. And they’re trying to figure out, and we’re seeing some of the folks who are thinking this through, what will that experience look like for a customer’s perspective as they walk through the door. They’re talking to people about what it’s going to take to get them back in. And I think that’s incredibly helpful. And I think as we write these plans and the protocols for reopening Minnesota, that type of thinking is what has to be a part of it. And I think it brings me to my point about this team that’s out acquiring personal protective equipment that are in part of this supply chain stream that Minnesota’s advantages, as I’ve said often, are a very robust healthcare system, a very robust and well-documented public health sector that is renowned for the work they do, a business ethic of philanthropy and community responsibility that helps creating public private partnerships easier.
Tim Walz: (06:21)
And when we started back in March and I put together the team around aggressively going after personal protective equipment, we looked inside state government and we brought commissioner Roberts Davis over from administration, and then we looked at companies across Minnesota, both big and small, who had expertise with this. One of the first folks we called was I called Doug Baker who’s over at Ecolab, a company that has a little bit of knowledge in what it takes to keep things clean and to keep food processing and things neat and businesses running in a time when you need to decontaminate in a very fast manner, but also someone who runs supply chains globally with international companies and understands that now, because of the situation we’re in, Minnesota was competing against surrounding states.
Tim Walz: (07:06)
We were competing against other nations to try and acquire that. And so you’re going to hear from Doug and Alice here in just a little bit and the team that they put together, but I think the stories, and Ecolab is one of them. There are many others. And I want to call out a few of them. Of course, CH Robinson, Toro, patterson, 3m and Mayo, and there’s numerous others, but one of the things is a lot of what these folks did is pro bono wise as they were shutting down their operations, they were asking how they could help the state. And what they did is they gave us some folks over to help us. One of those was Jill Wyatt. We want to get her title right. She’s executive vice president and president of global regions. Jill is an expert over at Ecolab in procurement and supply chain management, and she’s working with us pro bono as part of the team that’s helping Minnesota.
Tim Walz: (07:53)
So I hope Minnesotans know this is an all state effort. This is public private partnerships. This is the best of our private sector. Some of the most successful companies in the world have given their people to come over to help the state do this. So you’ll hear a little bit with them on the critical care supply working group. They’ve been at it now for several weeks. And I think like anything in this pandemic, we have days where things go better than others, but all geared towards that idea that there will be critical equipment when needed. There will be an increase in the personal protective equipment so that we can expand out to further protect people throughout society, and that at the same time we’re ramping up the supplies inside the hospitals. So I’m going to have them come up in just a minute and then we’re going to update you on the Worthington situation.
Tim Walz: (08:40)
I think most of you by now in the media, folks listening today is, is that JBS, the company that runs one of the largest Midwest pork producing plants, employs about 2000 people in Worthington, obviously a critical linchpin of the economic and social fabric of Worthington and Nobles County, over the last about 72 hours started to experience increasing numbers of COVID related symptoms. Once we got a team down there and started testing, it was led up by the department of health, the department of labor and industry and agriculture. And I want to especially thank the folks down in Worthington. I was on the phone with mayor Cooley last week. And the public health people down in Nobles County doing incredible work on this as we started to see a cluster of a very difficult disease start to spring up, doing everything right. And I think this morning JBS announced a voluntary indefinite shutdown of the facility to reassess what we can do to make that plant safe, what we can do to keep those employees safe.
Tim Walz: (09:38)
We have undertaken a robust testing operation, and I’m going to leave it, I think commissioner Peterson and others will talk a little bit about this. The lessons learned in the JBS plant and Worthington are going to be to apply to our other facilities, our other packing facilities across the state because this is both the… Numerous reasons. Obviously the health of the workers. It’s obviously the economic impact on these communities. But we have a responsibility here in Minnesota that we feed a large portion of the world. We are very much disproportionately the bread basket of the world. And when these things start to shut down and when you combine Smithfield and JBS, commissioner Peterson will talk about this, it’s a big portion of where our producers are sending their animals to market, so we’ll hear a little bit about that.
Tim Walz: (10:29)
What I’d just like to, and I’ll comment on this, some of you saw in last week we had folks that are rightfully frustrated with the stay at home order. They gathered to express their constitutional first amendment rights of disagreement. As I said then though, I think there are safer ways to do that. I think in a global pandemic we’re always striking the proper balance between civil liberties and protection of a broader group of people. I mentioned last week that I was just a little confused about what we needed to do different when there was a, just on Twitter from the president, so the president called back on Saturday night. We had a very good and long conversation. I got the opportunity as the president asked, what are we doing in Minnesota? What’s the situation look like? I asked how we could align better with what the administration’s proposals were put out on Thursday because I think they align very closely.
Tim Walz: (11:24)
We talked about some of the challenges around PPE and testing. But the one thing I think, many of you have been in this room time and time again, I have been very clear, I am not interested in adjudicating why we don’t have these things now. I’m just interested in how we get them. And that’s what I expressed to the president again. I think he echoed that and expressed a great desire to continue to work with us. He mentioned the great companies in Minnesota that are a part of the whole nationwide effort. And I think it just shows, and I’m convinced of this, that Minnesotans and Americans in general, they don’t need to see us fight. And I’m not asking for everybody to agree with everything that’s said. And I encourage people to strongly as they can continue to debate these in a manner that makes sense.
Tim Walz: (12:10)
I just don’t think that there’s any percentage in us not being totally aligned. And I left that conversation Saturday night believing that we are aligned, we are getting this right, that there’s a confidence level amongst my team here that I think we’re getting into a rhythm where our partners, whether they be at FEMA, had a great conversation with secretary Esper at department of defense, and now there’s conversation with the president is in alignment. And I said I understand the frustrations, but I did express to the president I’m not sure that’s really helpful at this point in time and if there’s anything that he needs me to do, it would be better to just call and we would talk, and I think we both agreed to that, that it’s just not healthy to play it out in a public setting where there’s not a real back and forth and the ability to exchange information. So I’m grateful for that. I think there’s reasons for us to be incredibly hopeful today with COVID four stimulus funding. We’re talking to our delegation. I will say this, that I think the areas they’re focusing on heavily, which looks like small business and hospitals, especially rural or specialty hospitals, is really wise. I will have to express this, that I think governors in general expressed this, and this is aimed at Congress. This is aimed at our strategy in general. That we’re going to have to include the states in this at some point because states can’t run and should not be able to run deficit spending. But because of this, we’re backfilling a lot of help into this fight against COVID-19. And if the states are not given part of this, that you’re going to have a gap there too. And I think the president and the vice president’s response to that has been that that may need to be the COVID fight piece of it.
Tim Walz: (13:54)
The problem is that states start to run up against this pretty quickly. I am pleased to say that they looked at states and did a stress test of which states are best prepared financially to handle this and Minnesota was in the top 10 states they said that is prepared to financially be able to put ourselves in a good position with our reserves, put ourselves in a good position with our ratio of spending and the stability of our pension funds. So at this point in time, good decisions in the past have put us in this position, but we certainly welcome the next discussion on what we’re going to do to get Minnesota’s economy back running in a safe manner. With that, I think I will bring up commissioner Malcolm to update where we’re at and then we’ll hear from Doug and Alice a little bit on procurement. Commissioner.
Jan Malcolm: (14:39)
Thank you, governor. Good afternoon. I’ll once again just give you the sort of the data briefing, first of all. As of early this morning, globally, we were at more than 2.4 million cases and nearly 166,000 deaths. Again, as I’ve said many a time before, this is just a stunningly fast moving virus across the entire globe. In the United States earlier this morning, we were just under 760,000 confirmed cases and just under 41,000 deaths. Here in Minnesota, as the governor has mentioned, we are now at 2,470 cases, up an additional 114 from yesterday’s laboratory confirmed total, and sadly an additional nine deaths, again, heavily concentrated, eight of the nine occurring in people associated with longterm care facilities, all residents again.
Jan Malcolm: (15:39)
Of the nine deaths from yesterday, the youngest was in their 50s, a couple in their 60s, a couple more in their 70s and the remainder 80s and 90s, the same pattern that we have been seeing. As of today, 1,202 patients have been released from isolation. There are 237 patients currently hospitalized, 126 of those in intensive care. We keep focusing on those metrics because that’s been where a lot of the critical planning has been to increase the supply to be ready for increasing numbers as we see them.
Jan Malcolm: (16:15)
I would like to comment just very briefly on the Worthington situation, knowing that my colleagues are going to go into greater depth. But from a health perspective, as the governor mentioned, as we’re getting case reports coming in, confirmed cases from geographic areas around the state, we were noticing an increase in cases in Nobles County. And as the disease investigators began their process of interviewing cases and identifying contacts, we fairly quickly spotted a strong link to the JBS plant. I will say that, and I appreciate the governor’s acknowledgement, that our public health colleagues locally and at MDH and particularly the skill of the disease investigators is truly a great asset. There are some real challenges in this particular community with the number of languages being spoken. Over 40 languages are spoken in the JBS plant. A lot of these individuals don’t necessarily have ideal housing situations in the sense of they’re quite mobile, the housing is quite crowded and some of them don’t have telephones.
Jan Malcolm: (17:25)
So it’s been a little bit difficult to track down and so the investigations are taking a little bit longer than they typically do. It’s been a point of pride for us that we’re able to complete most investigations within 24 hours of getting a laboratory report. But so far, we’ve completed, of the 77 confirmed cases in Nobles County as of Saturday’s testing, so we don’t have all the results back yet from Sunday. But of that 77 confirmed cases in Nobles County, we’ve completed 41 of the interviews, so still have quite a bit more to go to figure out the total number. But in that first 41 interviews…
Speaker 2: (18:02)
… total number, but in that first 41 interviews, 33 of them were employees of JBS and six are family members of the employees. So you can see the concentration there related to the plant, which is why it’s so very important that we understand and get in there and understand more clearly what’s going on with the plant situation. And we know as we’ve talked about before, the importance of congregate settings, whether we’re talking about care facilities, housing facilities, jail facilities, or now we see and have seen around the country the potential for rapid spread in manufacturing facilities, especially ones of close quarters. So we could say more later in the briefing about the disease investigation process if you’re interested, but we do appreciate the cooperation of JBS in allowing us to get a closer look at testing for the employees and families of that situation.
Speaker 2: (18:59)
I want to close with a bit of a good news story in a sense. You know that we’ve been working really hard to work closely with longterm care facilities who have large numbers or any cases. We consider as you’ve heard time and again from Kris Ehresman and me, one case in a longterm care facility triggers a much closer hands on approach from us because we know the potential with that at risk population. We had a situation over the weekend with a particular facility in Wayzata that, there were a cluster of cases among staff, a few among residents as well, but we reached the tipping point where the staff was really unable to continue to care for those residents. So a decision was made Saturday morning and by Saturday night all 46 of the residents of that facility were relocated either to their families on a temporary basis, to other assisted living facilities that were willing to take them. Seven were transferred to nearby hospitals to receive care.
Speaker 2: (20:04)
The point here was not that these re-locations were triggered by resident illness, but by the lack of critical staff. And I just want to take a moment to acknowledge the incredibly hard work and the partnership and the teamwork that went into moving these people quickly and safely. It really took an extraordinary effort of our MDH staff, our colleagues at the State Emergency Operations Center, the statewide healthcare coordinating center, local emergency management, local healthcare providers and other assisted living facilities that were willing and ready to be of assistance. So it was really a good news story in the sense of it was able to happen quickly. It was able to happen professionally without a lot of drama. Everyone is getting the care and the support that they need and I am really grateful to the amount of teamwork that that took. I think it just illustrates the importance of the interdisciplinary approach and the ability to move quickly when we need to. And with that, governor, I’ll turn it back to you.
Tim Walz: (21:09)
Thank you, Jan. I’m going to bring Doug up here in just a second, but I think it’s important, again, Minnesotans understand every morning I have a team that breaks down all of the lanes. This lane that Doug Baker has been working in, the critical care supply working group, is these working groups brief me, Joe Kelly briefs in the morning about where we stand across the spectrum on emergency management to include facilities that might be potentially stood up, flooding and everything else that’s going on in the state. And we go right down the line from housing to education to the commissioner briefs. But I think one of the things that when you maybe watch these briefings, it’s easy to forget there are literally tens of thousands of people carrying out this care for Minnesota that are doing all of these different pieces and working synchronization-wise. And one of the things that I think sets Minnesota apart, and we keep talking about this Minnesota model, is our private sector expertise is second to none in their willingness to help.
Tim Walz: (22:00)
So each one of these work groups has a lead in the private sector that’s helping us out with that. So in the acquisition of PPE and getting ourselves ready, that’s Doug Baker from Ecolab. Doug? Thank you.
Doug Baker: (22:18)
Thank you. That’s okay. Thank you. Well, thank you governor and thank you commissioner. I want to open by saying thank you to everybody here, your team. This is a tough job. It’s a tough time to lead. You’ve got very difficult decisions to make as you go through. I think it’s very clear you’re working very hard and understand all the issues. I said recently this wasn’t hard. It would be because it was misunderstood, and clearly these are difficult decisions and we all have confidence in the business community. You’re working very hard to get this right. Human health is absolutely critical and obviously there’s economic health, and these two meet and that’s not an easy line to cross and and to figure out. So we empathize and we also rarely appreciate all the hard work that’s been going into this.
Doug Baker: (23:07)
I’ll just say this, this is a easy call to answer and I was delighted we could help. I will be remiss. I’ll say this three times. If you have a big job, you smother it with talent. I can see that the governor believes in the same ethic. That’s how we have Commissioner Alice Roberts-Davis here. And I would also say from our end, we asked Jill Wyant, who is repatriating from Zurich, moving into a growth and innovation job globally for me. And it’s hard to grow when everybody’s home. So to think that maybe her helping unlock the state because if you don’t have PPE and you don’t have this stuff figured out in the reserves right, it’s very hard for the governor and team to give a go ahead ultimately to reopen the state. So this all in a lot of ways works. Jill has done a great job, but it’s with the leadership of the commissioner and her team.
Doug Baker: (24:05)
And last I’ll say is this. My big job was making the business community aware of the challenge. They volunteered. And you listed a number of them and I’m just going to do it again. So I sent a letter out on Friday and by Monday we had like 10 people volunteering. And what we’re doing principally is using their procurement teams. So we all have offices all around the world that can buy things. We have people in China, they can inspect and buy things. This is already built. So to use this team in this instance seems a very wise way for us to help quite efficiently. The state doesn’t go out and do this by nature, and so this is an emergency time where we can help in a very unique way, but 3M, Donaldson, CH Robinson, [Mayal 00:06:56], Patterson, Polaris, Toro, Target, of course, Ecolab’s purchasing, all of them really stepped up in the procurement, logistics, warehousing, management, whatever way they can. They’ve really stepped up in a number of ways. So that’s all I’d have to say and we appreciate the opportunity. Thank you.
Tim Walz: (25:11)
Thank you, commissioner. Thanks, Doug.
Thank you, governor. Thank you, Doug. As I’ve said before, we continue to be competing for supplies with 49 other states and many countries across the world. This has really been a very special relationship with Ecolab. Over the past three weeks we’ve been leveraging our traditional supply chains, but also had many Minnesota businesses step up, some small businesses that pivoted from their normal operations to assisting the state and then of course what Ecolab did, which was different. They made the call. They asked Minnesota corporations to step up. They asked them for their top talent and they really responded. And so from all of those companies that you named Doug, we’ve gotten some of their top talent and they’ve been so helpful for us in vetting procurement leads and vetting vendors, which we were flooded with in the very beginning, not necessarily all from good actors or people with good intentions for supplying the state.
In fact, just this past weekend, 3M was able to quickly identify for us a vendor that was counterfeiting 3M masks and selling them. And so we were able to abandon that lead and spend our time more wisely. So we’re very appreciative of all of the great work that this group has done. We’re continuing to build capacity. We’re placing orders daily and receiving orders daily, but there’s still a lot of work for us to do in order to be prepared in healthcare settings and longterm healthcare facilities, day cares and shelters across the state, but I am really heartened by the commitment of all of our private partners and us working together. So again, just a really heartfelt thanks to Ecolab, to Doug, to Jill, and to all of the partners who stepped up and helped us in this effort.
Tim Walz: (26:46)
Thanks, Rachel. Thank you. I’m going to bring up two commissioners you haven’t seen much here yet, but they’ve been working nonstop. Nancy Leppink is the Commissioner of the Department of Labor and Industry, and I think my colleagues across the country and others would say this is probably no one more talented in keeping workplaces safe, labor law, labor interactions, and having her on the scene to try and understand how we can keep these businesses running and keep employees safe is absolutely critical. And of course, Thom Petersen, Department of Agriculture has, as I said, I think I go a lot of places and every time I get there, people tell me Thom’s already been there. And I feel like I know a lot of people, Thom not only knows them, he knows all their children and the dogs and cats that are with them. So these are two good people to have on the ground when it comes to an intersection between labor and agriculture. So, Commissioner Leppink and Commissioner Petersen.
Nancy Leppink: (27:40)
So, good afternoon everyone. I’ve been asked here today to talk a little bit about the work that we’re doing in light of the cluster of cases that we have found in the Worthington area and in Nobles County. So, when it appeared and became clear that a significant number of these tests were with employees who were employed by the JBS meat packing facility, and of course that followed on the heels of the Smithfield facility and other facilities across the country having similar challenges. First of all, and most importantly, the Department of Health and the Department of Labor and the Department of Agriculture worked to develop guidelines now for the meatpacking sector to assist them in coming into compliance with CDC guidelines in their facilities. Furthermore, we will be sending out that guidelines to all of the facilities in the state and offering the assistance of the state to help them develop the plans that are necessary and improve their operations in a manner that allows for them to comply with those CDC guidelines.
Nancy Leppink: (28:54)
We’ve also requested that those facilities, because often our knowledge about whether there’s something going on in a facility, we only learn that after we’ve done testing and the testing questions ask people then where are you employed? So we are also asking for these facilities to voluntarily share with us the health status related to their workforce. So, have they had workers who have tested positive? Have they had workers who have been symptomatic and sent home? Have they had workers who have called in reporting symptoms of COVID-19? And this will allow the state then to focus its testing resources more effectively, but also that we can get into those facilities and work with those companies to help them identify and potentially change how they’re operating in order to meet the CDC guidelines.
Nancy Leppink: (29:50)
And we know that there is significant pressure on this sector regarding the demands of the agricultural industry. So our objective is to keep these plants open, but however to keep them open in a manner that they do so to keep their workers safe. That then really means that there has to be a strong collaboration between health and labor and agriculture to truly meet, to see how to thread that needle in this industry. So the department is committed to working with health and agriculture. We have amazing partnership there, but also to do our job, which is to ensure the safety and health of workers and workplaces across the state.
Tim Walz: (30:41)
Thank you, commissioner.
Thom Petersen: (30:44)
Well, thank you. I think for a Minnesota’s agricultural industry, this is obviously a very tough time, as it is for all Minnesotans. In our COVID-19, thinking back to our farmers before we even had COVID-19, we’d faced five years of bad prices before this ever happened. And so to have this on top of it is very difficult, especially right now for our pork industry. And keep in mind, Minnesota is number two in pork production in our nation. We’re here to do whatever we can to support our farmers and to support the people affected by JBS’s plant decision to suspend operations today. And we been working with our Worthington plant’s leadership and the employees to help them find a way to resume those operations as soon as possible.
Thom Petersen: (31:33)
In the meantime, I want to just say that our pork producers, we have enough pigs to meet our demand right now, but with closures of packing plants and processing facilities, that’s going to make things very challenging. We also want to make sure that we re-emphasize to the public that there’s no evidence of food or food packaging being associated with transmission of COVID-19, and pork processing. I mean, it’s safe to consume pork, especially using everyday safe food handling techniques. Farmers are losing money on every animal a day. It’s not just hogs. Lamb, cattle, dairy, eggs, it’s across the sector. US pig farmers are estimated to lose $5 billion for the remainder of the year.
Thom Petersen: (32:23)
We also want to say that we’re doing everything we can at the Department of Agriculture to assist our producers at this time. We have assigned staff members to help farmers that have lost markets. And so farmers that are looking at that can go on our COVID-19 webpage and we can connect them with our staff people who will do their best to help them find markets. MDA is in constant touch with the other plants that are operating within the state. We have roughly 20 other large packing companies and our goal, as Commissioner Leppink said and the governor said, is to keep those plants running. It’s incredibly important. In the meantime, the Department of Agriculture is working with a lot of our smaller plants to build capacity within the state. Those would be what we call our equal to or custom plants. And we, this last week gave out $345,000 in value added grants to those plants to increase capacity to handle those animals that we’re seeing.
Thom Petersen: (33:25)
We also want to just remind people that this is a very stressful time for our farmers and that we have resources at the Department of Agriculture that are free for our farmers to use. We have a mental health line and we also have 10 farm advocates. I spoke with them on the phone this morning and we know that it’s tough for farmers, but we also want farmers to know that there’s resources out there to help them. And so this is a tough situation. We’ll work together with our other state agencies or other states to get through this. We want to make sure that we ensure that Minnesotans have a safe, affordable and accessible food supply. Thank you.
Tim Walz: (34:02)
Thank you, commissioner. Well, thank you everyone. Doug, I go back to that smother it with talent. Minnesota has a lot of that, as you can see with these commissioners who are up here. I talk about these two who don’t get up here a lot, but I talk to an awful lot and of course trying to go find that talent, Commissioner Leppink was based in Zurich at the time when we were out looking for someone to fill that position and we had to do her interview via Skype from Morocco. A native of two harbors wanted to come home and wanted to come home and serve the state. And so I’m grateful for that. So with that, we’re open to the questions from everyone. So, Mary.
Governor, you mentioned earlier 18 months for businesses to prepare that business will not be as usual for 18 months.
Tim Walz: (34:49)
Yeah, I think that’s the way they’re viewing it.
Can you tell us where that timeline comes from?
Tim Walz: (34:50)
Yeah. Well they’re viewing it from the outside numbers, from CDC on a vaccine. I think most of us recognize behavior is not going to change dramatically until there’s a vaccine. I think certainly therapeutics, Kris Ehresman and some of the infectious disease experts would tell you this, but the businesses themselves are saying they’re doing their work, that they understand customers and they understand customers’ thinking and they’re out there looking to what it’s going to take to get people back in their stores. What’s it going to take to operate your restaurant once we have social distancing? But if we open restaurants without a vaccine, will people come? How will that look? So I think their thinking, and to be honest, in speaking to this major retailer this morning, they’re thinking this could be a long time or even a generational shift in how people view retail. And they’re starting to think that way of what does it look like when, if we come back, and when we come back, are we going to approach it differently?
Tim Walz: (35:45)
So one of the good things though, I think for us right now is having all that talent and having these business folks think about this, they’re creating plans that are going to be solid, that will feed in, that will help us make these decisions to open up. That’s what we … We’re not going to be able as a state by ourselves in a vacuum to be able to create, this is what-
Tim Walz: (36:03)
… by ourselves in a vacuum to be able to create, this is what a sake business would look like and this is how you can make it work. We’re going to have to go back and forth with them working with health and saying, this is how you do it. Exactly what you’re hearing about JBS. How do you open back up a hog processing plant in a manner that stays safe and separated? Does it make sense to operate it at a slower speed and how many hogs can you move through there? So, I think that’s how they’re thinking and they’re looking, and I think their long range vision is vaccine.
Speaker 3: (36:35)
But to follow up, what are you then, how does that change your thoughts on what businesses open and when there’s a lot of pressures still on restaurants.
Tim Walz: (36:37)
Yeah. Well, I think it has to be driven by the science and the data. Again, when I heard people say if there are protocols in place that are keeping essential businesses open by the things that they’re doing and not getting people sick, wouldn’t it stand a logic that you could apply those to nonessential and do them the same way? And the answer to that is yes. But I think today the JBS and other situation show this. It makes no difference whether you have a stay at home order or not on that if people are getting infected and not able to come to work, meaning you could not have one on and it would still shut it down.
Tim Walz: (37:13)
So the way it impacts me is that I think day to day is what I keep telling people, we need to find out what things are working, how can we do this? And again, I don’t know yet on antibody testing, I think we’ve talked about this, Jan certainly has, that the drawbacks of antibody testing need to be taken into account with the great potential promise of that. So, we’re looking longterm about what it will take. But I’m looking with this team with best practices of saying, is there a way, because from the very first day this thing started and people were talking about shelter at home and we’re talking about 18 months, I said, it’s not feasible to shelter in place everybody for 18 months.
Tim Walz: (37:54)
It is just not sustainable. It’s not sustainable economically. It’s not sustainable health wise and it’s not sustainable psychologically. So, we’re trying to strike that balance and I would thank Minnesotans again. I get a report on social distancing and things that are happening. We opened up a lot of activities for outdoor activities over the weekend and almost no complaints. People were adhering to them. Now obviously there’ll be a bit of a lag time if people are gathering too closely or we’re getting spread of the disease. So, we’re looking at it both triaging short term, but then thinking like these businesses are, what does resumption of state business look like until we have a vaccine?
Speaker 4: (38:34)
Governor, if can ask you to go into more detail about your conversation with President Trump, the tweet Liberate Minnesota, certainly most people interpret that as a direct rebuke of you and your policies. It sounds like he may have called you back and also did you tell him what you thought of that tweet and what do you think of that tweet? What was it like?
Tim Walz: (38:57)
He did. Yep. The president called and we have spoken on numerous occasions. He has called on several times prior to COVID-19. I was very appreciative he would take the time and called back. It was probably close to a 10 minute conversation and I just explained to him, I said, “I know Mr. President you don’t have time to know everybody.” I said, “I’ve been in Congress, I’ve served under three administrations or served with three administrations in Congress.” And I said, “One of the things I pride myself on was being a low maintenance member of Congress.” Meaning I didn’t need to have the White House call on everything; that we did our homework, we did our stuff and we worked together.
Tim Walz: (39:34)
And I just said that I wanted to get this opportunity to explain what we’re doing to make this little [inaudible 00:39:39]. I said, “I understand there’s frustrations with folks wanting to stay home, but here’s what Minnesota is doing and I want to understand is there something else you’d like us to do?” At that point, president said he appreciated that. He said, “I am hearing good things.” I think it should be noted that I think there were prominent Minnesotans that placed calls to the White House and said, ” You may talk to the governor, he’s trying to get this right.”
Tim Walz: (40:05)
If those calls were made, I certainly can’t say that specifically, but it sure sounded like somebody called because the president said, “I’m hearing from friends in Minnesota that you’re doing things that need to be done and you’re listening to them. So I appreciate that.” And so, I think it was more of kind of a level setting again. The president asked about testing and I said we’re turning to mail the University of Minnesota and our health systems across Minnesota. I said I appreciate it because this was after his news conference yesterday. I said I appreciated the Defense Production Act focusing on swabs and some of that material because I said for whatever reason there is a little bit of a problem with that. And he said that’ll be taken care of this week.
Tim Walz: (40:42)
And then I just asked, I said, “If we’re getting something wrong here, we’re getting something out, can we call or can we talk? And he said, “Absolutely.” And he said, “I appreciate this. We’ll talk soon.” And then I just saw this morning, they said that the president put out a tweet and said the conversation, I think he summed it up the way I would. It went very well. We committed to working together. My talk to him is that he can tweet what he wants to and that’s right. But I said, I think here in Minnesota, they really, really want him to succeed. They really, really want our state to succeed. And I said, if we can work together, this is not an either or proposition.
Tim Walz: (41:21)
And so, I felt certainly better about it. I think, again, we’ll see how things go moving forward, but Minnesotans should expect that. That’s what I’m focusing on. It made me just a little more comfortable that we’re not going to get sidetracked into things that take us away from the main mission.
Speaker 4: (41:42)
You mentioned that there may have been some calls on Minnesota’s behalf. Can you elaborate?
Tim Walz: (41:46)
If I had to speculate, I think there are probably some prominent business people in Minnesota that placed some calls and said, “Hey, we are getting this.” When you look at it, we’re following the [CSO 00:41:55] rules and I think if you look at the three states, we’ve all three done it fairly differently. So the idea that there was a connection between how we were approaching this, each governor. And again, like I said, when the president said it’s up to us, I take that very seriously.
Tim Walz: (42:10)
Many of you sit in this room and heard me, I have not criticized or decided who’s to blame for why we don’t have enough of this stuff. I just said we don’t have it. And then if I’m a Minnesotan out there listening, at that point in time it becomes my responsibility and all I’m asking for is just some partnership and help. I’ll take responsibility to get these tests done and to get this PPE. But I just need a little bit of help. So my guess is that, again I’m speculating here, but it sure sounded like the president did mention that he had heard from people in Minnesota that that we are listening, we are doing this and that I am making that effort to thread the needle of opening businesses while keeping people safe.
Tim Walz: (42:47)
We left the conversation. He was gracious, he spoke to my daughter. She was there. I said, “I have my children here.” And he said, “Are they there?” And I said yes, and he said hi to Hope. So it was very gracious in that regards because I think he recognized we were all sitting at home on a Saturday night doing our things that families across the country are doing and he asked how they were fairing. So, I appreciated that.
Speaker 5: (43:14)
You’ve previously talked about significantly racking up testing and contact tracing. Can you provide an update on what’s happening on those fronts?
Tim Walz: (43:21)
Yeah. And Adrianne, I don’t want to put our team out on the spot. I think one of the things is that there were some coordination issues amongst the healthcare systems, amongst the state and amongst what we’re able to do. There have been conversations with the legislature on how to pay for this. My, I guess, guidance to my team is the preponderance of the evidence looks like to me is that we’re going to have to test and retest and stay out this for a while. If we really think that we’re going to be able to contain pockets, do this smart work that the epidemiologists have done, I think we shouldn’t get people to think that massive testing makes everything go back to normal, but it does move us to a better place and I have just made the challenge that everybody who is symptomatic or who may need a test should be able to get one, and that we should have enough capacity in these major employment centers to be able to go in there, drop in and test everybody if we can.
Tim Walz: (44:15)
And I guess my anticipation is that this week there will be a significant change in that, but I am not going to gloss over this. We’ve run into issues. We’ve run into issues with PPE. We’ve run into some of the issues of coordinating together, but we simply have to step those up, and while last week putting out a specific number, I guess that’s more for me to set a milestone. I think if you don’t have something out there and measure it, then you’re not held accountable for it.
Tim Walz: (44:42)
I think probably the experts and the health people would rather have me say everybody who’s symptomatic and needs a test should be getting them easier. That’s probably a fair way, but I hope that you significantly see on the molecular tests, the front and the PCR on the front, you see a significant increase in that and I think most of us know is once that happens you’re also going to see a significant increase in positive cases.
Tim Walz: (45:05)
But the tracing piece of it is the one where Jan and her team and others are starting to build up this core to be able to get there and I know I saw Governor Baker, Charlie Baker, in Massachusetts is putting some focus on that piece of it and we are too. It’s my intention to create this Minnesota model. It’s one of the things I explained to the president. I said, “I think Mr. President, if you watch what happens in Minnesota this week, this may be the model for opening back up that others want to follow. So give me an opportunity to show this and see.” On that one he said, “Well, we’re watching. Seeing you’re working with great people. Let’s see how it goes.”
Speaker 3: (45:40)
Governor, you mentioned outdoor recreation was going well. You didn’t know of any complaints. Any thought of outdoor sports resuming even if school can’t go back in. Do you think in terms of state high school league and the collegiate level that it’s possible to have any form of collegiate or high school sports go on if the schools are not open?
Tim Walz: (45:57)
Yeah. This is, and again, I just want to express and if there’s any of those athletes out there, both collegiate high school professional and those, the Olympic athletes, I mean, those who even have high school athletes in their family know that so much effort and excitement is put into this and then you’re at a point where it’s your pinnacle season and you’re going to win a state championship and all that was taken away. So, just like many of these things, we’re leaning into it hard. I don’t want to set up any false expectations. I think anything you play close together where you’re touching the same ball or you’re in large groups, that’s going to be hard.
Tim Walz: (46:33)
I come back to the idea that I think the things we miss the most are going to be some of the hardest things to get started again. And that’s difficult for me. So at this point in time, I’m not super optimistic about it, but I think it’s important for me and when we need to make a call, and probably sometime this week I could forecast to you, we will be making a call around schools in these types of things to give people a heads up because we’re thinking now longterm on schools, what does longterm distance learning look like? We have some as… the commissioners and deputy commissioner over at MDE said, “We’ve got some real wow moments in our educational plan and we’ve got some real whoa that it’s not.” And some of these inequities are being exacerbated and this is now going to be… this will have decades long impact on our children with this interruption if we don’t get this right. We’ll give you more this week, Mary, but I think it’s unlikely. And to me, I say this as somebody who’s been around and as a high school coach for all those years it just breaks my heart. I do think the students losing contact with their classmates and losing contact with their teachers and coaches, it has a real detrimental effect. So for those saying the social isolation also has a physical and mental health piece, I absolutely agree with you, and that’s what we have to figure out.
Speaker 5: (47:53)
[inaudible 00:47:53] Senator Abler said a friend of a friend has taken their life because of this and he said this is just devastating, domestic abuse is up, and really thinks you need to start opening the door to more businesses in particular.
Tim Walz: (48:06)
Well, I would also say please have two sides of this coin. I asked for increased mental health funding and was denied that last year. So I just wanted to be clear. I don’t disagree with that. I don’t disagree with the mental health crisis was there ahead of time. But again, if opening up the business were safe, we would do it tomorrow. That did no good at Smithfield. It will do no good at JBS. And there are numerous others on this. So, I asked for a plan, I continue to ask people this. This is what we’re doing. This is what we’re asking business. Come up with a plan. Just to say open up, that’s not reasonable because we can’t just open up without safeguards in place.
Tim Walz: (48:47)
And what Minnesota is doing different is setting clear procedural standards and protocols to try and do that. And as I said, talking with one of the nation’s biggest retailers this morning, they’re doing that exact thing. So I agree with them and we’ve got to figure that piece out.
Speaker 3: (49:02)
This is from Eric Rasmussen from the KSTP TV. He asks, “Will all JBS workers now have access to a test for COVID-19 if they want one. And was it the governor’s task force in Worthington that recommended the JBS close its plant?
Tim Walz: (49:19)
Jan or anybody, Nancy, if you want to talk on this.
Speaker 6: (49:25)
I can’t speak to who recommended what to whom about the plant. I know that the governor’s staff, including these commissioners and I were on the phone a couple of times with the plant and the governor has said, and we have reiterated, it’s our goal to help them open the plant safely. I think they committed their cooperation with helping encourage their employees to get tested. So yes, that is our intent that all employees will be able to get tested, and we also want to do broader testing in the surrounding community. I think as the governor has said, we see this as an opportunity to kind of develop our playbook for how we will respond to hotspots like this because that is certainly one of the ways in which we can try to manage this for the long haul, is to get really focused on where we know. As Chris has said many a time, the concentration of interactions is really what’s very key. So, with the guidance that we’re giving to increasingly specific guidance for different types of sectors for how to tailor their operations, we believe that that’s going to be really key.
Speaker 3: (50:41)
You will be testing every single worker there? Can they have access?
Speaker 6: (50:42)
Yes. We’ve offered that and the company has agreed that should exist. I will say we have a testing operation that’s been up and running for several days now. Getting people to come can be a challenge. So we’re looking for the support also from community leaders in Worthington from some of these communities to encourage their people to come and get tested. So, that’s an important part of the message too, that we want to test people to help them with their health. It’s not a punitive thing.
Tim Walz: (51:17)
If I could just follow up, there’s an interesting point on this. The dynamics about this. People need to pay checks and people want to come to work and people know if they can’t get tested. This is the thing that, and I would go back to this again. The State of Minnesota did not shut down JBS. JBS’s leadership did not shut down JBS. The virus shutdown JBS. Someone has to make these decisions once they’re coming. We want them to be up and running. The company obviously wants them to be up and running. Their employees want them to be up and running, but it is not possible to do that in this situation and I think as a state, anything, and that’s what I keep articulating, having a clear cut plan to test, trace, isolate and then build plans of social distancing and new normal is our surest way to get in. I just don’t know how to respond when somebody says open up tomorrow and you say how and just say do it. Nobody’s going back to work tomorrow even if the stay at home order is lifted, and that’s the part that I just want to get this in. And it’s taking time and I want to be clear with these companies, heartbreaking decisions, Best Buy, 51,000 furloughs last week. Best Buy is trying to figure out; a part of their business is going back in and servicing warranties for people and your refrigerator breaks down at a stay at home. That’s a big deal. Somebody needs to get in there and they’re trying to figure out what does a checklist look like for the homeowner, for the service technician and what can pass the MDH’s responsibility.
Tim Walz: (52:44)
Those are the types of things where we’re working together to say, “This is what a home service view would look like and I don’t see how you can get to that unless that provider, the person going into there has been tested. That person working on the meatpacking line has been tested. I still think, again, this is why you’re hearing all the swirl around this. The call with the vice president today was one hour about testing, testing only.
Tim Walz: (53:12)
So I think that good news in this testing kind of spat that boiled up is everybody agree it needs to be done. My goal and what I told my team’s goal is everybody gets tested and I think Commissioner Peterson has been on the phone with the other plants and we need to get there and be ready to do that before we end up where we’re at now.
Speaker 3: (53:31)
Can aI follow up. This is for form communications related to JBS. They want to know if there is a confirmed connection between Smithfield and Sioux Falls and JVS in Worthington. Do we know that yet? There’s been speculation of family ties of some family members looking at both places. Do we know that Chris or?
Speaker 7: (53:51)
Thank you Chris.
Tim Walz: (53:51)
Speaker 7: (53:54)
Yeah. Chris there’s been department of health. We know that the workers that work at JBS also they have family members or they go back and forth between.
Speaker 8: (54:03)
… also they have family members or they go back and forth between these plants so that there is a potential that what was in Smithfield could’ve gotten to JBS, but by the same token I want to acknowledge that we’re seeing community transmission of COVID-19 and so it’s difficult to pinpoint, but we do know that there is interaction amongst many of the plants in that area and so it certainly is a possibility.
Tim Walz: (54:29)
Speaker 9: (54:29)
Here’s a question from Jerry Burns at the Mesabi Daily News. He asks what the Worthington outbreak in mind, I’m curious if the administration will focus some of the ramped up testing capacity on baseline tests for potential hotspots. For example, testing the iron range communities that are home to open mining operations to determine what’s already here.
Tim Walz: (54:48)
Well thank you, Jerry, for the question. Yes. I think the answer is yes on that. That’s the goal. And to get anything back to a sense of moving towards normalcy, as I said again, I think the consensus, and it’s not unanimous, but a consensus among the experts is testing is going to be a key component of that.
Tim Walz: (55:06)
And I’ve laid out an ambitious goal and you see this across the country, governors are starting to talk about this now. I happen to think Minnesota probably is well positioned, but it’s hard and there are territorial issues and that’s my job to help try and break those down.
Tim Walz: (55:20)
There are the supply issues. That one, we’ve got good people working on that, but I just, Jerry’s point is exactly right. I mean, we should drop into Min Tech and be able to test everybody who’s there on the trucks, things that are happening. That gives you some assurances, and then once we have a baseline on that, knowing when people show symptomatic, we’re testing them as they come through the door, we’re catching fevers on that. They’re being pulled over, they’re giving a test, we’re getting quick results.
Tim Walz: (55:43)
The team, the trace team, is on the spot. They’re highlighting where they were in the morning. Did they fuel up with gas here? Did they pay inside? All that tough work that they do is what has to happen. So the answer is yes, that that is the vision and it needs to come fast. I get that. And I feel the sense of urgency.
Speaker 10: (56:01)
I have a question here from Theo Keith from Fox 9. Theo asks, the number of tests fell, he has that in caps, last week below the level from the previous two weeks. We’re still less than 25% from the 40,000 tests a week you want. Why are the testing numbers down and when will we see 40,000?
Tim Walz: (56:27)
Well Theo, thank you for the question. Soon, I hope. If we don’t, we’re going to be stuck in this. The other states have not quite figured this out yet. I’ve said it and I said it last week when I projected, I thought sometime this week we should start to see a significant uptick.
Tim Walz: (56:42)
We heard that Sanford yesterday was going to do drive by, drive-through testing. They processed 97. That’s not enough. That is not enough, and we’re going to have to crack through those barriers to get it done. So in answer to that, Theo, my hope is is we get close to that 40, 000 a week by this week, because again, the business community, the ones that really get this, know that they’ve got to do their work on social distancing.
Tim Walz: (57:09)
They know the stay-at-home order’s working and shortens the time that we have to be closed. But they also know that they need to have this testing capacity to be able to do what they need to do. So I think we’re breaking down some of those barriers. I think we’ve had all the players, and some of them are the healthcare systems, and what’s the cost going to be? Who’s going to pay for the cost, who gets reimbursed, who has the swabs to do it, who processes it?
Tim Walz: (57:32)
And it’s not like it’s territorial or it’s money-related. It’s the systems managing their own internal work orders and work process. And that’s our job to break that down. And I think when we talked about this, it’s been 10 days ago that I said I wanted the moonshot. My expectation was that within a two-week window, because again, when I’m asking for these stay-at-home orders, Minnesotans are sacrificing to create the space to do what we’ve done. So this one needs to come. So in answer to that, Theo, my hope is this week.
Speaker 10: (58:05)
Just a follow on his question, the President said Saturday at his news conference, there was enough testing, testing was okay. You talked to him on Saturday. Is that what he’s getting you fast? I mean, did you talk to him about testing?
Tim Walz: (58:17)
I did, and I want to be here because I don’t think there’s any percentage getting in a battle on this. For whatever reason, there is a disconnect between the states and the federal government on where this is at. And I think we may be talking past each other where both cases may be correct.
Tim Walz: (58:36)
And what I mean by that is, is that we have some of it in these private labs, but trying to get into it is hard. Some of it is fragmented, where we have pieces of kits in different places. Now, I think Minnesotans and this team that put together, this is just one team, but the team that is showing where we’re at did a great job of inventorying. I think probably for the first time in Minnesota’s history we pretty much know where everything’s at in every hospital across the state.
Tim Walz: (59:03)
That was asking quite a bit of the hospitals to give up that autonomy. So I believe the federal government believes that they put a lot of this out. I think that they had a strategy to use around these labs, these two private-sector labs, the Thermo Fisher and Roche, but what I think they maybe didn’t see was is that pulled from a supply chain that cut off our other labs to be able to do it.
Tim Walz: (59:29)
At this point in time, I think Minnesotans, and I would ask you to ask those providers and things, Minnesotans should just agree we are not testing as much as we should. And at this point in time, if I were them, I would blame both federal and state for not getting that to you. And I think if we get it, which we will, I am more than happy to give credit to the federal government for getting those things out there too. I just want to see the testing.
Tim Walz: (59:57)
So I think at this point in time, we’re probably talking by each other a little bit. I think there’s reasons to be optimistic, but again, no state has figured this out. No state is testing at a level that they need to yet. We need to be one of the first, if not the first to do it. And that’s what I expect to happen.
Speaker 11: (01:00:17)
I have a question for Commissioner Peterson from Forum Communications. They want to know what farmers will specifically be asked to do while JBS is shuttered or any other processors or affected businesses.
Commissioner Peterson: (01:00:29)
Yeah, and that’s a really difficult position, as Smithfield and JBS being closed, that can make up probably over 50% of the pork or pigs markets for them in Minnesota. And like I said, we’re working on trying to find other markets or homes for those pigs, and so some plants are able to take some of those pigs, and so we’re working on that as well as much as we can.
Commissioner Peterson: (01:00:54)
Farmers are also trying to slow the growth weight of those pigs as well and to try to buy some time. We as a state of allowing farmers to hold more pigs on their farm at this time. And unfortunately, some farms may have to depopulate some pigs at a certain time as well.
Speaker 12: (01:01:14)
Question from Jeremy Alston at the Star Tribune.
Tim Walz: (01:01:17)
Speaker 12: (01:01:17)
Please provide an update on hospital inventory and procurement, especially given that we are now out of gowns in our state stockpile and hearing that hospitals are having to use alternatives because they are completely out.
Tim Walz: (01:01:28)
Commissioner? I looked at our website this morning, so yeah.
Commissioner Roberts-Davies: (01:01:34)
Yeah. Thank you for the question. So, as far as inventory goes, as you mentioned, everything except for gowns we do have at least a 30-day supply in hospitals and in our warehouse, as well as everything on order as well, so we continue to pursue opportunities to purchase those things. The one thing that I’ll say is that it’s been very difficult to find them as we’ve talked about before, but continue to pursue every opportunity. Is there a problem?
Tim Walz: (01:02:02)
Did Jeremy say which hospital is out by any chance?
Speaker 12: (01:02:05)
He did not. He just said hearing that hospitals are having to use alternatives because they’re completely out.
Commissioner Roberts-Davies: (01:02:09)
We are. We are ordering alternative or gown substitutes in order to ensure that they have something that they can wear when they’re dealing with patients there. One thing that we’ve done as recently as today to ensure that we can better accommodate the hospitals is we’ve reduced the window for when they can order our supplemental supplies from zero to three days to now four to seven days.
Commissioner Roberts-Davies: (01:02:28)
So now if they have only four to seven days in inventory, we will replenish for them. Before we made them wait until they had zero to three. And so that’s one effort that we’re making to ensure that they have what they need in the hospitals when they need them.
Tim Walz: (01:02:38)
Time for one more question today.
If I could just ask a follow up. I think Jane Malcolm mentioned that at the JBS plant there were people that were not coming forward for testing. Is any of that at all because people might be undocumented, and what is the state’s policy when it comes to testing and finding out information from somebody on their COVID status?
Speaker 13: (01:03:01)
Thank you, Esme. I think that that is a fact of of lots of parts of the labor market, and we know that there are people who are undocumented and that’s part of their reason. And that’s very much why we need to work with community leaders to encourage that. We’ve, absolutely made it an issue that cost should not be a barrier, nor should documentation status.
Speaker 13: (01:03:27)
Certainly that requires a lot of cooperation. But it’s critical to the public health that we understand who’s been exposed and to keep them and their families safe. So we, certainly from a public health standpoint, are always sensitive to that issue and try to make sure that people know it is not a barrier to receiving either testing or any of our support.
Tim Walz: (01:03:52)
Yeah, sure. We have one more, Teddy.
Speaker 14: (01:03:54)
I know South Dakota is doing a study with hydroxychloroquine. Are we doing anything with that? And is any hospitals around here tried anything for the people that are really sick?
Tim Walz: (01:04:03)
They have, they have. And the hospitals and the physicians need to make the call. I called the sister of someone who’s up in intensive care up in Duluth, and they tried a little bit of everything including a hormone treatment that appears to be working. We are not taking part, as a state, in a study on that, but certainly Mayo and these other institutions are doing what they need and trying certain therapies as they get them out there.
Speaker 15: (01:04:31)
One more question [inaudible 01:04:32].
Tim Walz: (01:04:32)
Speaker 16: (01:04:32)
One last question from Minnesota Public Radio. Even with your reopening plans in progress, should the public and private employers be prepared for an extension of the stay-at-home order beyond May 4th?
Tim Walz: (01:04:43)
I think what we’re probably getting used to is modification of it, and that’s one of the things that I think is maybe a little different on the Minnesota model if you look, and that we modified from the first stay-at-home order as new information came in, and I think our intention would be to continue to try and do that as more information comes in.
Tim Walz: (01:05:01)
The thing is that is a challenge for us right now, we’ve done a lot of things right, and when I say we, I say Minnesotans. We’ve stayed home, we’ve social distanced for the most part, we’ve been able to push that curve out, but we know it’s coming, and I think this is the hard part to wrap your mind around. On that state of the state, I talked to my team when we were writing the lines down and I said, “I need to tell people that there are going to be people dying.”
Tim Walz: (01:05:24)
It seems so unacceptable. It seems that we should be able to do more, but the nature of a virus like this, the nature of the way it’s attacking, that that’s going to happen. And what I think I’m looking at is are we seeing an anomaly in five days or are we starting up that curve? And that will impact how it is.
Tim Walz: (01:05:48)
So, what I would tell Minnesotans is we’re always looking at the new data, we’re always looking to modify. I am trying to thread a needle, as I think others are, between public safety and smart, science-based reopening with an understanding of both the economic, physical and mental health tolls that this thing is taking.
Tim Walz: (01:06:08)
So I don’t want to commit on this, but I think most of us recognize, and Mary asked it earlier with the businesses, I think most of us have come to the realization that at least until we get a vaccine there are going to be changes and things in place. I just want to do my best to make sure that this is sustainable for Minnesotans, make sure that we are listening to the experts, and again, as I said earlier, I think the Minnesota model of testing, public private partnerships, collaboration gives us an opportunity to do this a little differently.
Tim Walz: (01:06:39)
So I want to thank you for that. I want to thank Minnesotans again for what you’re doing. We’re going to continue update. Doug, Ecolab, and all the partners out there, thank you for that. If some of you were noticing I was having trouble looking at my notes. My dog ate my glasses today, so that was my Monday. That was my Monday. My wife piled up all his stuff by the door like he was going to be leaving after that, but he’ll stick around. But I just can’t see.
Tim Walz: (01:07:02)
But I want to end with that positive story. It was out of Spring Valley DQ down there. Somebody sent me a picture of it. The owner was masked up, gloves on, and was delivering carryout to folks, and the first person in line, the manager bought their meal for them and said, “Thank you for coming back.”
Tim Walz: (01:07:21)
That person paid it forward and bought the one behind them. That went on for 141 cars through the line, and every single person paid it forward to another. If that doesn’t symbolize Minnesotans’ willingness to help a neighbor, it may be a small thing, certainly not frivolous.
Tim Walz: (01:07:37)
The idea of a warm summer Saturday, people were getting back out and they went out to get DQ. They did it safely, they did it social distanced, and they paid it forward to their neighbor. So thank you Minnesotans. We’ll be back here tomorrow to update you some more. So thank you. Thanks, commissioners. That was good. Really grateful. Doug, thank you.
Yeah, thank you.
Tim Walz: (01:08:37)