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What would a shelter-in-place order look like in Minnesota?

Mar 22, 2020 06:29AM ● By Editor
Gov. Tim Walz speaks during a news conference about the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in St. Paul on Monday, March 16, 2020. Walz ordered bars and restaurants across Minnesota to temporarily close to customers who dine in amid fears of coronavirus cases. Photo: Glen Stubbe | Star Tribune via AP

By Cody Nelson of Minnesota Public Radio News - March 21, 2020

A shelter-in-place order is among the tools Gov. Tim Walz is considering in the state’s attempt to slow the COVID-19 pandemic.

The governor said Friday he’s not yet ready to issue such an order, but "it is a possibility."

The global death toll from COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, neared 13,000 Saturday, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, and by Saturday evening the global number of confirmed cases topped 300,000. As of Saturday, the United States has more than 24,000 cases in total, a number that's on the rise since testing capabilities expanded over the past week.

Minnesota’s coronavirus outbreak is eight to 10 days behind places like Seattle or New York, Walz said, where the virus is more widespread. In California’s Bay Area, another COVID-19 hotspot, six counties have already enacted shelter-in-place orders.

In New York, which is becoming this nation’s epicenter of the virus outbreak, Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered all nonessential businesses to close by 8 p.m. Sunday, NPR's Hansi Lo Wang reports. Essential businesses that will remain open include grocery stores, pharmacies and public transit.

In San Francisco, the order requires people to stay at home except to “provide or receive certain essential services or engage in certain essential activities and work for essential business and government services.” All businesses must stop non-essential operations, and all non-essential travel and gatherings must stop. Those experiencing homelessness are exempt, but urged to find shelter from government agencies.

Chicago’s Oak Park neighborhood is on similar orders, too. The Tribune reports: “Oak Park residents can still go to the grocery store, keep their doctor appointments, make pharmacy runs and get some fresh air. They’ll also be able to go to work, especially if they have essential jobs such as health care providers, first responders and sanitation workers.”

Overall, the phrase “shelter in place” is broad and means different things for different situations. Specifics, such as who is considered an essential worker or what people aren’t allowed to do, vary on the threat.

The Minnesota Health Department said it didn’t yet have public information for how it would handle sheltering in place, a spokesperson said, but added it wouldn’t be entirely restrictive.

“[It’s] clearly a higher level of community mitigation that, as implemented in Bay Area, still allows people to get food and other necessities,” the spokesperson said.

To read the original story and see related COVID-19 reporting, follow this link to the MPR News website.

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