Walz fears political repercussions if he declares state of emergency over COVID

Walz fears the "political fallout" over another state of emergency, especially the loss of his health commissioner, Jan Malcolm.

Background: Minnesota Capitol building (Matthew Deery/Flickr). Left: Gov. Tim Walz/Minnesota Governor's Office.

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz has admitted that declaring another state of emergency in the face of rising COVID cases would lead to negative political repercussions.

In a Wednesday call with reporters — from Finland, no less — the governor said he won’t invoke emergency powers while Minnesota’s COVID cases spiked to the highest 7-day average in the United States.

As reported by Fox 9’s Theo Keith, Walz said a state of emergency is “just not as effective of a tool right now,” adding that declaring one would not magically lower Minnesota’s death rate.

In addition, he fears “political fallout” over another state of emergency, especially the loss of his health commissioner, Jan Malcolm. Although she has served in that role since Jan. 2018, she has never been confirmed by the GOP-controlled Minnesota Senate. Republican senators effectively wield the power to remove her if they so choose.

“It was a tool that worked incredibly effectively pre-vaccine,” Walz said, according to the Star Tribune. “But it comes at a cost both to the public and it comes at a cost obviously, politically. And don’t take light that this is politics about an election, it is politics about effectiveness.”

Walz possessed emergency powers from March 2020 until June 2021, when he had the authority to implement mask mandates and limit indoor capacities. He maintained on his call that the previous state of emergency saved lives.

Chairman of the Foundation for Minnesota’s Future, Kevin Poindexter, released a statement Thursday in reaction to Walz’s remarks.

“I’m sure the Governor is handling very important business in Finland that can’t wait while our hospitals are being overrun under a surge of COVID cases. However, the people of Minnesota should be outraged by the Governor’s admission today that while he held emergency powers for more than 400 days and told us to follow the science, we know now that it was political science he was following the entire time,” he said.

“The current surge in cases doesn’t fit his politics right now especially while he is on his taxpayer-funded tour of Europe. I hope the Governor will clarify these remarks, maybe from his secret email account while he continues his travels outside of Minnesota.”