By Jordan Gerard

Editor, The Caledonia Argus

On March 25 in a video conference, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz issued a Stay at Home Order effective Friday, March 27, at 11:59 p.m. to April 10 at 5 p.m.

So what does this mean for Houston County?

Residents can still leave their homes for health and safety activities; outdoor activities including walking pets, hiking, running, biking, hunting or fishing; necessary supplies and services; essential and interstate travel; care of others; displacement such as moving between shelters; relocation to ensure safety; and tribal activities and lands. 

When residents leave their homes for the above mentioned reasons, they still need to practice social distancing, Walz said. In the conference he added “Minnesota is doing better than any other state” which was shown by cell phone data, travel patterns and anecdotal. 

Workers who provide critical services are exempt including healthcare and public health, law enforcement, public safety, first responders, child care, emergency shelters, homeless shelters, food, agriculture, news media, energy, water, wastewater and critical manufacturing. 

Minnesotans are urged to voluntarily comply with the order, a Frequently Asked Questions document explains. No, Minnesota is not closing its borders and no, there is not martial law, the document stated.

Distance learning for schools was extended to May 4 and public places (those previously closed) are still closed until May 1. 

Walz said officials and University of Minnesota experts were using “the best data possible” to build models of mitigation. The data is also Minnesota-specific. Though there are still uncertainities, the data and models can be updated and modified, he added.

Essentially, the order should “buy time” to build up Intensive Care Units (ICU) and personal protective equipment (PPE) and also identify people who should be isolating at home. Walz called the model “smart mitigation.”

He asked Minnesotans to buckle up and limit movements outside of their homes beyond essential needs.

Cases of COVID-19 so far are seeing 85% of those infected recovering, 15% requiring hospitalization and 5% in ICU, he added. In Minnesota, 12 people were in ICU and one person died.

This is an ongoing story and we will update as often as possible. The Argus will have more coverage of the Stay at Home Order and how it affects Houston County.

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