Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jason Lewis has joined a growing list of litigants challenging the Walz administration over the Minnesota governor’s shutdown orders to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Lewis’ lawsuit, filed Tuesday, is the second federal legal challenge to Gov. Tim Walz’s amended executive order in as many days: On Monday, the Upper Midwest Law Center filed suit on behalf of churches asking a judge to fully reopen places of worship.
Attorneys for the state also will be in court later this week in an enforcement action against a Stearns County bar owner who sought to reopen his chain of restaurants on Monday in defiance of the governor’s emergency orders.Those cases follow a challenge brought last month by the Free Minnesota Small Business Coalition, a group of small-business owners asking the Minnesota Court of Appeals to strike down a series of executive orders that forced them to close their businesses.
Lewis, challenging DFL incumbent Sen. Tina Smith, is seeking an order stopping Walz from enforcing his orders limiting public gatherings and temporarily shuttering bars, restaurants and other types of businesses that bring people into close contact.
The former radio talk show host and congressman has made the pandemic restrictions a focus of his campaign, speaking out on a statewide RV tour and joining protesters outside the governor’s residence last month. His senior counsel, Justin Clark, also serves in the same role for the re-election campaign of President Donald Trump, who supported the protesters.
To make matters worse, this fucking idiot is taking his shit show on the road:
Lewis, who met with a group of people at Robert Hoffman Realty in downtown Albert Lea, said he thinks evidence shows that all that is being done with the stay-at-home order and business closures or modifications is delaying the onset of COVID-19 and prolonging the period the most vulnerable would be at risk. He said this was the first time in his life that he has seen healthy people be quarantined.
Lewis said this is leading to a rise in mental health issues and suicides, and he said he thinks health care costs that result from the restrictions will be worse than the costs from the virus itself.
“They’re going to dwarf anything we’re going through with COVID,” he said.
He said he feared some politicians are using COVID-19 to expand their power and said he is trying to be a voice for small business owners, many of which are struggling.
He also said he is worried about people who need treatment such as hip replacements and biopsies, whose problems are worsening as they have not been able to be seen, and farmers who are having to euthanize hogs because processing plants are closed.
The number of coronavirus patients in Minnesota needing intensive care beds reached a single-day high Monday, a spike officials said was expected.
Minnesota Health Department officials said patients needing ICU beds increased to 248 Monday. They also announced another 12 deaths, bringing the state total to 881. The previous single-day high for intensive care bed usage, 233, occurred Friday, with the number dipping again to 207 by Sunday.
“This is an expected trend,” Jennifer DeCubellis, CEO of Hennepin Healthcare, which oversees Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC), told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “We anticipated that social distancing would allow health systems time to get space, staff, and supplies in place in order to be better prepared for higher volumes — but that the volumes would still increase, ideally at a slower and more manageable pace.”
The additional 41 ICU beds filled also marked a single-day increase for Minnesota since the pandemic began. The previous record for an increase was on May 16, when the number of beds in use increased by 25 to 225.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz’s approval rating has risen as the first-term governor navigates the coronavirus crisis, with 2 in 3 registered voters supporting his performance on the job, a Star Tribune/MPR News/KARE 11 Minnesota Poll found.
The 65% approval rating is an increase from a Minnesota Poll conducted in February, weeks before the pandemic upended daily life and politics, leading to a series of executive actions temporarily closing businesses and limiting people’s movements. Before the crisis, 56% of registered voters approved of the DFL governor’s work.
But the share of Minnesota voters who disapprove of Walz’s job performance also has grown as the political debate intensifies about the state’s stay-at-home orders. In February, 25% of Minnesotans said they disapproved of his job as governor, compared to 30% in May, even as a majority of registered voters also voiced support for the restrictions put in place to slow the spread of the virus.
Plymouth resident Cheri Rolnick has backed Walz since his 2018 run for office. She said his “top notch” response to the crisis has reinforced her support.
“I feel he was very quick to act and pay attention to the scientists,” she said. “I’m a retired epidemiologist, so science means a lot to me. Hunches mean very little.”
The telephone poll of 800 registered voters was conducted May 18-20, after the end of the statewide stay-at-home order and just as the governor was rolling out new rules allowing for some reopening of restaurants and salons. The poll, by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy, has a margin of sampling error of 3.5%.
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