Legislative leaders react to Walz ‘stay-at-home’ order

Three people sit at a table in an auditorium.
Gov. Tim Walz answers a question as Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, right, and House Speaker Melissa Hortman, left, listen during a legislative preview panel inside of the Minnesota Senate Building in St. Paul on Feb. 5, 2020.
Evan Frost | MPR News file

DFL Gov. Tim Walz received some mixed reaction to his “stay at home” executive order Wednesday from top legislative leaders.

In his latest response to the coronavirus pandemic, Walz directed Minnesotans to significantly limit their movements for a two-week period that begins Friday night.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, said he shares the governor’s concerns about safety, but he has “grave concerns” about the order. Gazelka did not elaborate. But he noted “the consequences for the families of Minnesota when their jobs and businesses that provide their livelihood are lost.”

DFL House Speaker Melissa Hortman said the governor’s decision is difficult, but in the best interest of Minnesotans. She said additional efforts are needed to slow the spread of the virus.

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“Minnesotans have done an excellent job social distancing, but we need to keep fighting to slow the spread of COVID-19 and prevent our health care system from being overwhelmed,” Hortman said.

The House and Senate are scheduled to meet in session Thursday to pass some additional relief measures related to the health crisis.

DFL Senate Minority Leader Susan Kent said she thinks Walz made the right call.

“There is significant, reliable data that concludes staying home makes a tremendous difference in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 and as a result, saving lives,” Kent said. “Mitigation will allow our health care systems and the people who care for the sick to continue to do their life-saving work.”