On Nov. 18, Gov. Walz ordered a new round of restrictions on businesses and social gatherings. You’ve probably heard about some of them, but here is a quick refresher of the governor’s demands for the next four weeks:
• Minnesotans stop gathering with anyone outside of their immediate household
• Bars, Restaurants, and coffee shops will close for dine in service
• Pools, gyms, zoos, dance studios, and indoor entertainment will close
• Youth and adult sports must “pause”
First of all, I extend my deepest sympathies to everyone who has been affected by this virus. It is definitely serious business, and we should take our health seriously. With hospitalizations, deaths, and case positivity rates all climbing, it’s clear we are no longer in the same situation as we were during the summer and early fall.
But I remain concerned about what impact this order will have on workers and Main Street business owners. Many of them have been struggling just to stay afloat since the start of this outbreak. Another round of restrictions will put them in an even more dire situation.
I am also concerned about the lack of action in long-term care facilities, which is where the real crisis is. In May, the governor announced a plan to protect nursing homes. Since that announcement, 71% of Covid fatalities have occurred in long-term care facilities. The governor needs to present a new strategy, and fast.
I am a firm believer that we have to get students back in the classrooms. We say we are following the science, so let’s follow the science: there is now a mountain of evidence that schools can reopen safely without posing a significant risk. In fact, experts say the risk of keeping students in a distance learning model is far worse.
The governor believes a new round of restrictions are needed. I would ask him to be transparent with Minnesotans about what comes next: what is the plan to help businesses and workers who will be harmed? What is the hard evidence that the last shutdown worked, or that this one will? What is the plan moving forward, and how do we measure success against Covid-19? Minnesotans deserve to have this information.
Changes coming at the Capitol
Those of you who regularly read this column know that one of my good friends in the Senate is David Tomassoni, a Democrat from the Iron Range town of Chisholm. This week, Senator Tomassoni and another Democrat Senate colleague, Tom Bakk (from Cook), decided to effectively leave the Senate Democrats and create their own group.
It’s a pretty big shakeup. The narrow Republican majority in the Senate effectively expanded by two votes, which hopefully will lead to less acrimony, less intensity, and more bipartisanship.
And that’s the main goal — a better functioning government. Both Bakk and Tomassoni claim they were driven away by the leftward drift of the Democratic Party. They said the party is out of step with the values of rural Minnesotans. As someone who represents a district outside the metro, I share their concern about Twin Cities-centric government, and am glad they are doing what is best for their constituents.
No matter what, I’ll continue to build relationships with people on both sides of the aisle, just as I always have. Strong relationships are the key to being effective and getting the job done, and it is this spirit of bipartisanship that has led to so many of our successes. I am looking forward to another successful year!