Gov. Tim Walz said a statewide mask mandate to help curb the spread of COVID-19 is “on the table” during a Monday press conference.
According to Walz, Republican governors who participated in a Monday phone call with Vice President Mike Pence were also “exploring the idea.”
The governor prefers to “use the carrot rather than the stick,” but said “everything is on the table.”
“The best thing we can do is keep social distance, wear the mask, and if you’re sick, stay home. That would have a bigger impact than any stay-at-home order I could issue so this might be something that is worthwhile,” he said.
Walz said he’s “serious about talking about” a statewide mask mandate, but it’s unclear when such a mandate would be issued or what it would entail. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has required residents to wear masks in enclosed public places since April.
“The businesses seem to think if the state mandated it, it just makes it easier on them. They don’t have to get into a fight with a customer at the door,” Walz added. “It has become much more of a political or ideological decision than it is a scientific decision to wear the mask. I’m making the argument of this: if you are for the economy opening up and for the state to take away some of the limitations on your businesses, the surest way to do that is to wear a mask.”
Walz also announced Monday that the state has completed more than half a million COVID-19 tests and “reached the milestone” of developing a daily capacity of 20,000 COVID-19 molecular tests.
“I’m very proud of the Mayo Clinic team who worked tirelessly to apply our global reference laboratory capabilities to ensure every Minnesotan can get COVID-19 testing when and where they need it. To date, Mayo Clinic has provided over 280,000 COVID-19 diagnostic tests to Minnesotans,” said William Morice, president of Mayo Clinic Laboratories.
As of Tuesday afternoon, Minnesota had 36,303 cumulative positive cases, 1,441 deaths, and had completed 605,316 tests. That means about six percent of those who have been tested for the virus in Minnesota have tested positive.
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