MANKATO, Minn. (FOX 9) - In his third State of the State address Sunday evening, Gov. Tim Walz outlined the sacrifices Minnesotans have made over the last year during the COVID-19 pandemic while pointing to brighter days ahead.
Walz hosted the speech from his former Mankato West High School social studies classroom Sunday evening, one week after he was originally scheduled to do so. Walz underwent a 10-day quarantine after coming into contact with a COVID-19 case.
At the outset of the speech, he explained that he chose the classroom as the location because he most looks forward to the "laughter of students in a school hallway," once the pandemic is over.
"Brighter days are here, and even more are coming," Walz said. "We are winning the fight against COVID-19."
Walz made note of the nearly 7,000 Minnesotans who died from COVID-19 over the last year and said his near miss with COVID-19 last week is a sign that the pandemic is still not over.
He applauded the efforts of Minnesota businesses who were forced to close during the pandemic and those who shifted production to make masks, hand sanitizer, and other coronavirus-specific products. He also thanked Minnesota residents for masking, social distancing, and missing out on milestones over the past year.
The Governor also touted the state’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout, which he says ranks first nationally. He advocated for all Minnesotans to receive the vaccines.
Referring back to a metaphor of his state championship-winning Mankato East football team from earlier in the speech, Walz concluded with a call for action.
"The state of our state is strong, Minnesota. This is our goal line stand. Get vaccinated. We’re coming back," he said.
Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Death of George Floyd
Walz’s State of the State speech was held the night before opening statements in the trial of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, who is charged with the murder of George Floyd.
Walz said he was motivated to host his speech at Mankato West, in part, because Martin Luther King, Jr. gave a speech there 60 years prior.
He echoed King’s calls for nonviolence as the "only way to truly move hearts and create change."
He called on all Minnesotans to remain peaceful during the trial and reflected on what he felt were the "winds of change" taking place across the state as it relates to police accountability and race relations.
GOP Response to the State of the State
Sunday, the state’s top Republican, Sen. Paul Gazelka, released the GOP response to the State of the State address, which can be viewed here.