Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz on Friday, March 20, said he's weighing a shelter-in-place order like governors in California, Illinois and New York had instituted but said he wasn't ready yet to deliver that order.

The announcement comes as the number of positive coronavirus cases in the state saw it's largest one-day increase Friday, March 20, hitting 115 total in 22 counties. The news of the spread comes two weeks after the state announced its first positive case and days after state officials took actions to limit the potential spread in schools, restaurants, bars and other public spaces.

While the state doesn't have clear-cut metrics for when it would issue a shelter-in-place order like other states have done in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, Walz and state health officials said they are using the experience of other countries and states that have weathered the crisis to determine when the move might be appropriate.

“It certainly needs to be predicated on the best science, some of it is going to be extrapolating from what’s happened in other states to determine if that’s the time,” Walz said.

Reports of positive cases were reported in 22 counties, including the first reported in Chisago and Fillmore counties. And they were picked up among 3,856 total tests processed in the state, officials said. Two of those individuals were in intensive care units, Walz said.

7 more cases in N.D.

The North Dakota Department of Health has confirmed seven new cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by coronavirus, on Friday, March 20. The state now has 26 known cases of the illness.

There are three new cases in Morton County, two in Burleigh County, one each in Ramsey and Pierce counties. Positive tests have previously been announced in Ward and Cass counties. Two North Dakotans with the illness have been hospitalized.

The state has reported 938 tests for the virus as of Friday morning, with 912 coming back negative. The department no longer lists pending tests on its website because private providers don’t need to get permission to send tests to the state lab.

Burgum also announced the state's 175 public and private school districts will remain closed indefinitely.

Noem pleads for help

South Dakota Gov. Noem pleaded for help with lab supplies to process coronavirus tests in a conference call with President Donald Trump, other governors and other federal officials on Thursday, March 19.

"I need to understand how you're triaging supplies," Noem asked Trump. "We, for two weeks, were requesting reagents for our public health lab from CDC, who pushed us to private suppliers who kept cancelling orders on us. And we kept making requests, placing orders."

South Dakota has 14 confirmed cases, all travel-related, with 270 tests pending at the state lab as of Friday at 3:30 p.m., according to the state's coronavirus tracking website. The state has fully processed 677 tests.

Around the region

  • The Douglas County (Wis.) Health Department reported the first confirmed case of the new coronavirus in the county on Friday. The case is likely associated with travel, Kathy Ronchi, Douglas County public health officer, said in a news release. The county borders the Duluth area on the southeastern edge. In Wisconsin, 206 cases have been reported with three deaths.

  • Gov. Tim Walz on Friday said he and his administration were weighing changes that could free up beverage options with restaurant takeout orders.

  • By Thursday night, March 19, approximately 95,300 unemployment applications had been submitted in Minnesota, roughly a third of which came from the hospitality and entertainment industries. Department officials have said that only about 500 applications are normally submitted each day at this time of year.

  • Sioux Falls (S.D.) Mayor Paul TenHaken on Friday begged businesses in the state's largest city to adjust their practices to promote social distancing among customers to reduce the potential spread of coronavirus, and consider closing their doors. Some businesses were "not taking this seriously enough," he said.

  • The Census Bureau this week announced that it would delay in-person follow-ups until April 9 for college areas and until late May for other locales.

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