As COVID-19 deaths climb to nearly 4,500 in Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz today extended the peacetime emergency that gives the state flexibility in responding to the pandemic, including safely and effectively distributing the vaccine.

“As Minnesota receives its first shipment of the vaccine, there is hope on the horizon. But we need to remain vigilant until we put the threat of COVID-19 behind us,” said Walz. “The Peacetime Emergency gives us the tools to keep Minnesotans healthy and deliver the vaccine in a way that is quick, equitable, and safe.”

The announcement comes as hospitals continue to express concern about their capacity to treat Minnesotans with COVID-19. Forty-eight other states remain in a state of emergency.

Minnesota’s peacetime emergency gives the state the tools necessary for the timely acquisition of supplies and technology to support the vaccine effort. It also supports the expansion Minnesota’s testing capacity; protects Minnesotans against evictions and wage garnishment; provides expedited procurement power for personal protective equipment (PPE) and other equipment; allows Minnesota to follow the advice of public health experts in combatting the spread of COVID-19; protects workers from unsafe worker conditions; requires Minnesotans to wear a face covering in certain settings to prevent the spread of COVID-19; and provides economic relief and stability to Minnesotans and small businesses impacted by the pandemic.

“This pandemic continues to cause heartbreak and loss every day – we can’t give up our efforts to save lives now,” said Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan. “On the day the first vaccines will be distributed across the state, I feel hopeful for our future. The end of this long winter is in sight, and the Peacetime Emergency is needed more than ever so that we can all stay safe.”

Also today, Walz signed Executive Order 20-101 authorizing the Minnesota Board of Behavioral Health and Therapy to modify licensing requirements during the COVID-19 Peacetime Emergency and Executive Order 20-102 amending Executive order 20-05 to ensure timely unemployment insurance benefits.

These executive orders are subject to approval by the Minnesota Executive Council, which is made up of Walz, Flanagan, Attorney General Keith Ellison, Secretary of State Steve Simon, and State Auditor Julie Blaha.

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