GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. — Gov. Walz seeks to extend COVID-19 peacetime emergency
Gov. Tim Walz is planning to extend the state's COVID-19 peacetime emergency for an additional 30 days, and will call the Minnesota Legislature into a special session starting at noon on Friday, June 12. The current peacetime emergency expires Friday, but Walz said the emergency powers are necessary to quickly respond to the pandemic. Minnesota law requires the legislature to be in session in order for the governor to extend a peacetime emergency order. The legislature does have the power to end the peacetime emergency with a majority vote by both houses. As part of the special session, the governor is also asking the legislature to address his bonding proposal, a jobs plan, and economic assistance for businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. The governor noted 19 other states are seeing coronavirus cases climbing sharply after reopening, while Minnesota is not currently in that situation. Data released by the Minnesota Department of Health shows the average number of COVID-19 cases in the state have been declining in recent days, though Wednesday's figures did show a small one-day increase.
A group of protesters toppled the Christopher Columbus statue outside the Minnesota State Capitol on Wednesday evening. A few hours earlier, Minnesota Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington had been asked if he was aware of threats that the group had been making about taking down the statue. Harrington said that authorities would be present and would talk to the group about what the process would be to have the statue removed. Despite this, the group pulled the statue off its base later in the evening. Mike Forcia of the American Indian Movement (AIM) Twin Cities said that he brought a rope and allowed others to do the heavy lifting to bring the statue down to the ground. He said their actions came after repeated efforts to petition for removal through official avenues. State Troopers then surrounded the toppled statue while protesters remained on the scene. A spokesperson for Minnesota State Patrol said that "no one was arrested at the event; however, the State Patrol identified the instigator who will face charges related to destruction of public property. Once the State Patrol’s investigation is complete, it will be turned over to the Ramsey County Attorney."
The University of Minnesota Board of Regents is getting ready to discuss the possibility of bringing back in-person classes in the fall of 2020. According to a release from the university, President Joan Gabel has recommended a framework to resume in-person instruction and open residence halls, dining facilities and other campus services this fall, in line with public health guidelines. The board will review and act on those recommendations in meetings Thursday, June 11 and Friday, June 12. Those meetings, both beginning at 8 a.m., will be live streamed on YouTube. Since the COVID-19 pandemic forced the U of M to go to virtual classes in March, Gabel has been working with an advisory team to develop a plan for returning in the fall. Recommendations include remote learning when possible and concluding classes by Thanksgiving, as well as a system of testing, isolation, contact tracing and quarantine that will be implemented on each U of M-system campus.