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Serving: MN
Minnesota State Capitol building Paula Mohr
STATE LEADERSHIP: Minnesota’s state leadership has been one of the national leaders in working on COVID-19 issues.

Times such as these need collaboration

Science paves the way through COVID-19 for the Walz administration.

No one knows what our daily lives will look like next week, next month or next year with COVID-19.

The experts, relying on science and modeling, talk how we are in this for the long haul, another 18 months or so, and that our lives will be forever changed.

Related: Complete coronavirus coverage

The scariest thing right now is how the pandemic is severely disrupting the food marketing and processing chain — shuttering slaughter facilities, prompting fresh raw milk to be dumped, and chicken and pigs to be euthanized. How these will evolve and gradually resume remains to be seen.

The one thing I do know, though — and deeply appreciate — is the voice of reason and investment in collaboration from Minnesota’s state leaders. They might not all agree with each other for political reasons, yet they have set aside most disagreements and have focused on the task at hand.

We are fortunate in Minnesota to have globally respected public health departments, medical research and health care facilities. Officials with the Mayo Clinic, the University of Minnesota medical school and the state Department of Health, along with other stakeholders, are working at testing, tracking and containing the virus. Other segments of state government are weighing the pros and cons of when to lift or partially lift the stay-at-home order.

The inclusivity of Minnesota’s leadership is visible almost daily during Gov. Tim Walz’s COVID-19 updates. Walz is accompanied by Jan Malcolm, commissioner of the state Department of Health, who provides the latest COVID numbers. Others include state economic leaders and medical experts.

Last week, Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, spoke at a daily briefing. Not one to mince words and sparse with praise, Osterholm described the times we are in as being in the first innings of a baseball game.

Office of Gov. Tim WalzCovid-19 safety graphic

SLOWLY, SAFELY: Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz offered this graphic at a April 23 press conference to provide an update on COVID-19. The state has a “stay-at-home” policy in place until May 18. Specific parameters have been given (see graphic) that will help determine when the at-home policy will be eased or lifted.

“This is not going to get over with anytime soon,” Osterholm said. “Well less than 5% of the state has been infected by the coronavirus so far. This virus will not rest until at least 60% to 70% of our population has either been infected, and then hopefully developed immunity, or we have a vaccine.”

Osterholm went on to say everyone hopes there will be a vaccine one day. However, hope is not a strategy, he said. He encouraged Minnesotans to take the pandemic seriously.

From a professional and personal perspective, he added that he is deeply appreciative of the state’s leadership and response to COVID-19 thus far. Osterholm has served in public health roles under Minnesota governors from Republican (twice), Democrat (twice) and Independent (once) political parties and five presidents, including the current administration.

“I can honestly say this [Minnesota’s COVID response] is as good a response as any state I have seen and been able to do,” he said.

I add my thanks to the governor’s leadership, which is desperately needed at this time. Walz weighs expert advice to aid decisions. He seeks collaboration from others in government and business. Clearly, calmly and empathetically, he communicates updates to constituents. He takes the mantle of responsibility for all on his shoulders and has publicly said the buck stops with him.

Like his decisions or not, Walz and his administration have earned national respect for leadership.

Minnesotans are fortunate to have Team Walz at the helm guiding us beyond COVID-19.

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