Ahead of expected campaign stops this week from President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, Gov. Tim Walz asked their campaigns Tuesday to follow state COVID-19 safety guidelines on crowd sizes, masks and social distancing.
Walz's letter to the campaigns stressed that some 1,900 Minnesotans have died during the pandemic, including 200 in August.
"Please demonstrate that you value Minnesota by protecting the health of our communities. Join us in our efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19, keep our businesses open, and get back to the activities we love," Walz concluded in the statement.
Such safety guidelines were ignored by Trump during campaign stops on Sunday and Monday, including one at a resort in Ahwatukee, Ariz. Photos from the event show a crowd of mostly maskless supporters gathered shoulder-to-shoulder indoors for the president's speech. Trump supporters have told some media outlets that the events are like peaceful protests and are protected by the First Amendment.
President Donald Trump's campaign has an event scheduled Friday in Bemidji. Biden's campaign has not yet announced a city or venue.
The state's coronavirus safety guidance asks that events not exceed 25% capacity or 250 people, whichever is less. A venue with multiple spaces with separate capacity limits might allow the campaigns to gather larger crowds if each space meets the guidelines, according to Walz's letter. Social distancing of 6 feet and face masks for indoor events are also required. Masks for outdoor events are strongly encouraged, the letter stated.
The state's safety rules are consistent with Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations, Walz wrote. He added that White House coronavirus expert Dr. Deborah Birx, on a recent visit to Minnesota, "praised our state's mitigation efforts. She stressed the importance of wearing face coverings, practicing social distancing, and avoiding large gatherings."
Matt McKinney • 612-673-7329