ST. PAUL — Gov. Tim Walz on Friday, April 3, said he was concerned about how the reluctance of governors in three states bordering Minnesota to issue stricter measures could impact the state's efforts to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Three of Minnesota's neighbors — Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota — have so far bypassed stay at home orders aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, and have instead opted for other measures aimed at responding to the pandemic.
The federal government has not issued guidance on whether Americans should stay home amid the pandemic and that has left the decision about what actions to take to heads of each of the states. And in the region, that has fueled a patchwork of answers.
Wisconsin and Minnesota governors, both Democrats, issued stay at home orders last month as the reported number of COVID-19 cases in those cases, as well as resulting deaths, grew. Meanwhile, Republican governors in Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota said the restrictions weren't needed to bend the curve in cases in each of those states.
"I do worry about that," Walz told reporters. "I think it's probably only a matter of time, as you have seen, before they issue those (orders) too ... we want to see these border states move to it. I think they will."
Walz said there's a good chance the state will extend its stay in place order past the current April 10 deadline, but just how long a renewed order would last and whether it would include the same restrictions as the current order would depend on how well Minnesotans complied with social distancing recommendations.
South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem on Friday responded to criticisms of her decision not to launch additional restrictions by pointing to modeling that showed the state's peak in cases would come in June, a push back from prior estimates.
Noem said existing recommendations to limit gatherings and in-person business had already bent the curve in terms of COVID-19 spread in South Dakota. Noem said the state didn't yet have the hospital beds or ventilators it was projected to need at the peak of the pandemic's impact in her state.
North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and Walz had discussed their strategies for tackling the disease in recent days. North Dakota has closed bars, restaurants and places of public amusement through April 20. And on Friday, Burgum said he'd still left the option open on tougher orders.
"We're going to do that if and when it makes sense for North Dakota," Burgum told reporters on Friday.
The Iowa Board of Medicine on Friday voted unanimously to encourage Gov. Kim Reynolds to put in place a stay at home order, the Des Moines Register reported, in a growing campaign to issue an order there.
The states are holdouts nationally, as more than three dozen governors have issued shelter in place or stay at home orders restricting citizens' ability to travel and congregate in large groups. And on Friday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who heads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he didn't understand why the states had yet to take that step.
Across the country and the region, reported cases of COVID-19 ticked up again Friday and hospitalizations and deaths also increased.
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