US deaths from COVID-19
soar past 48,000
Governor Walz extends
stay-at-home order to May 4
A poster released by the office of Governor Tim Walz to help promote public awareness of his emergency “stay-at-home” order.
Adapted from the Minneapolis Labor Review, April 24, 2020
By Steve Share, Minneapolis Labor Review editor
MINNEAPOLIS — The U.S. death toll from COVID-19 was climbing above 33,000 lives lost as the Labor Review went to press April 17, according to the Centers for Disease Control. By the time the newspaper went in the mail April 23 — six days later — the figure had grown to 48,816.
Minnesota, however, was reported to have the lowest per capita infection rate in the nation.
That’s thanks in large part to Minnesota Governor Tim Walz first issuing and then later extending a “stay-at-home” order until May 4 for everyone but workers in critical industries. And thanks to Minnesotans complying.
In a widely-praised “State of the State” address April 5, Governor Walz declared: “our hearts are filled with gratitude for each and every Minnesotan and the role they play in the fight against COVID-19.”
Walz of course celebrated the work of health care workers and others on the front lines and everyone rushing to increase the state’s capacity to fight COVID-19.
But he also thanked everyone staying at home. “And you—staying home—are doing some of the most critical work of all.”
“What you are doing isn’t paralysis — it’s action,” Walz said. “Staying home reduces face-to-face contact and thus the threat of virus transmission by up to 80 percent.”
The state’s union leaders were quick to commend Walz’s “State of the State” speech and his leadership during the COVID-19 crisis.
“In a time of crisis and uncertainty, Governor Tim Walz is showing the swift and decisive leadership that Minnesotans need right now,” said Bill McCarthy, president of the Minnesota AFL-CIO. “Since declaring a state emergency three weeks ago, Governor Walz has moved quickly to support frontline worker safety and provide much-needed economic security to Minnesotans who have been abruptly laid off or faced reduced work hours.”
“In his State of the State message, Governor Walz didn’t sugar-coat the long road ahead,” McCarthy said, “but made clear that Minnesotans will overcome COVID-19 the same way we have conquered adversity in the past — we join together as one Minnesota to protect our families, neighbors, and our co-workers.”
“Healthcare workers are on the front lines of keeping Minnesotan’s safe during the COVID-19 crisis,” said Jamie Gulley, President of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota and SEIU Minnesota State Council. “Whether in hospitals, clinics, nursing homes or as home care workers, their work is what is keeping our loved ones safe and healthy. It has been great having the strong, smart leadership of Governor Walz and Lt. Governor Flanagan as we navigate our way forward through this crisis and work to make sure those caring for us are getting cared for, too.”
Gulley added: “Minnesota is lucky to have such strong leadership and we remain committed to working closely with this administration to make sure we get through this crisis and tackle the fallout from COVID-19 in a way that makes sure all Minnesota families – no exceptions – are able to be safe and healthy.”
The North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters also issued a statement: “Tonight, Governor Tim Walz again demonstrated his exceptional leadership throughout this pandemic. Walz continues to rely on science and professional experts to make informed decisions in the best interests of all Minnesotans. His determination to leave politics out of the decision-making process has provided a safer environment for everyone. In addition, his transparency and daily communications have helped guide families in their day-to-day lives.”
“We are stronger together. I am confident that if we all do our part, we will emerge from these challenging times stronger than we are today,” said John Raines, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters.
“The Regional Council has also been communicating with our members and contractors about how we must follow all safety and health standards to ensure public health for all Minnesotans. Following Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recommendations such as social distancing, hand washing, disinfection, sanitization procedures and wearing masks will contribute to a safer environment for our most vulnerable citizens including all first responders.”
Walz is facing pressure from Republican legisators to lift the “stay-at-home” order, but health experts warn that doing so too soon could worsen the pandemic.
In closing his “State of the State” address, Walz urged: “Stay home, and stay healthy, Minnesota.”