Minnesota News Connection

Mike Moen

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Gov. Tim Walz offered Minnesotans a mix of harsh realities and encouragement in his State of the State speech Sunday night. The message had a singular focus: the coronavirus crisis.

The speech, which had been postponed by the pandemic, was streamed through YouTube from the governor’s residence. Walz likened the situation to the brutal winters the region is known for.

“We are used to long winters in Minnesota,” Walz said. “We are resilient people with a deep reserve of courage, optimism and grit. But this will be like a winter we’ve never seen before. ”

The governor avoided any specific mention of new policy decisions. But he did offer messages that seemed to be aimed at convincing Minnesotans the current stay-at-home order is worth extending. That order is due to expire Friday evening.

Earlier on Sunday, the Minnesota Health Department announced the state’s death toll from the virus had risen to nearly 30 over the weekend.

The governor also encouraged residents to rely on the helpful nature often attributed to the region when trying to make it through the colder months. And he said when the state finally gets past the darker moments, there will be new heroes to celebrate.

“We will value those we overlooked before,” he said. “When times got tough, who did we lean on? It was the nurse, the grocer, the truck driver, the farmer, the janitor.”

Walz said while there’s no stopping the pandemic, the state will continue to prepare for the additional challenges it will bring. That includes building up hospital capacity while increasing testing efforts to better track the virus.