MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and deaths continue to rise in Wisconsin and Minnesota. It’s part of the reason Gov. Tim Walz is extending the state’s stay-at-home order, a decision he strongly defended on Thursday.

“Nothing more than any of us would want to do is to get back to normal as soon as possible, but we can’t let wishful thinking drive us,” Walz said.

While the Governor updated the state during an hour long conference call, Minnesota Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka tweeted his opposition to the extension of his stay-at-home order.

Senator Gazelka also accused the Governor on Twitter of erroneously planning for what Gazelka labeled a New York style surge.

“I hope that I am as wrong as can be about the needs on those beds but all of the data shows me that I can’t risk it at this time,” Governor Walz fired back.

The Governor says, with the peak hospitalizations under his modeling not expected until mid-July, he hopes those who disagree with his stay-at-home order will follow precautions anyway.

“I hope that because they don’t support it they will honor it and that they don’t put themselves at risk and that we continue to work together,” Walz said.

The Governor acknowledged that other models show a peak much earlier – one model even shows the peak in Minnesota at the end of this month. However, Walz says he is acting on the best information and best advice from local and national experts — including local health care providers — to save as many lives as possible.

The Governor says on Thursday night the I-35W bridge, and other landmarks including U.S. Bank Stadium and Target Field, will be lit up in blue as part of a world-wide effort to say thank you to health care workers on the front lines.

Esme Murphy

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