MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Minnesota Legislature will convene Thursday for a sixth special session as Gov. Tim Walz looks to extend his peacetime emergency powers to combat the spread of COVID-19.
The extension of the governor’s peacetime emergency powers lasts for 30 days. When the legislature is not in session, the governor is required to call a special session to get approval from state lawmakers. There have been five previous special sessions called since the COVID-19 outbreak began in March.
During recent special sessions, Republicans in the Minnesota Senate have pushed back against the governor, calling for COVID restrictions to be lifted.
Yet just this week, Walz announced new restrictions for bars and restaurants following days of record-breaking counts of new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths. The latest record was broken Wednesday, when state health officials reported the most COVID-related deaths in 24-hour period: 56.
For perspective, since the start of this month, nearly 300 Minnesotans with the virus have died.
Also on Wednesday, the state reported another 4,900 cases of the coronavirus. The governor told MPR News that the state’s positivity rate is now more than 20%, which means that one in every five people that gets tested is testing positive for COVID-19.
In neighboring Wisconsin, COVID-19 cases are also surging. On Wednesday, the Badger State reported more than 7,000 new cases and 62 deaths.