LATEST UPDATE: Gov. Tim Walz is expected to close gyms, halt indoor dining and pause youth sports this weekend. Read the latest here. 

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minnesota’s COVID-19 situation is as bad as it was in New York in the spring. Gov. Tim Walz says he will be announcing major dial-backs on youth fall and winter sports Wednesday.

Additionally, he’ll reportedly add measures impacting social gatherings, bars, restaurants, gyms, and fitness centers. He will make the announcement at 6 p.m. on Wednesday.

The governor and the state’s health department held a news conference Tuesday where Minnesotans affected by the virus spoke out. Walz said that there is a danger of running short of health care workers.

“The velocity that this is moving now compared to any other time is simply stunning,” Walz said. “It would be easy to tell you this is going to be over but it is not. It’s going to be a very difficult four weeks.”

To bolster the argument, Walz included those on the call who have been hit personally with COVID-19, including former Republican State Rep. Nick Zerwas, who is still recovering. Zerwas made it clear he’d been against the governor’s shutdowns and restrictions before. Not any more.

Zerwas said on Monday of last week he had to wait hours before an open ICU bed could be found.

“We are pushing our system to the brink. If we don’t respond now I fear it might be too late,” he said.

Walz said Minnesota is able to increase its ICU bed capacity by 400 in just 72 hours, but the looming problem is too many health care workers are getting sick too.

Walz again appealed to only celebrate Thanksgiving with those who live in your household. Including others, even relatives, is too dangerous.

Walz listed a number of reasons for why he is not announcing the specific restrictions on youth sports until tomorrow. He listed legal issues involved, briefing all the parties involved in advance. Today was clearly meant as another move to set the stage for those announcements and to reinforce what a dangerous place we are in.

“Everything has changed. The virus is here. If we don’t act now, God help us,” Zerwas said.

Also on Tuesday, we did hear some words of regret from the Minnesota Republican Senate Majority Leader. Sen. Paul Gazelka has come under fire after not sharing with Democrats that he and other Republican senators had tested positive for COVID after attending a post-election event.

Gazelka said, “In hindsight we could have handled the event and our information sharing differently.”

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Esme Murphy

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