ST. PAUL, Minn. (FOX 9) - Minnesota’s top ranking GOP leader is against the governor’s stay-at-home order, saying, “We have to get on with our lives.”
A back-and-forth between these Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka and Gov. Tim Walz played out during the governor's press conference Thursday.
Just as Walz was about to start his daily coronavirus press conference, Gazelka sent out a tweet making his opinions clear, saying, “I do not approve of the governor’s unilateral decision to continue the order to shelter at home until May 4th. We have to get on with our lives.”
It was a change in tone from the Republican senator’s tweet the day before—where there was no mention of any disagreement with the extended stay at home order.
Walz responded to Gazelka’s tweet, defending the call.
“I will certainly change course of action based on the facts and the facts don’t support taking this off right now,” he said. “No one else is doing that and no one else is suggesting we do that.”
Walz added he understands this is difficult on all Minnesotans, but the work has to be done together.
“I want to go back to work as badly as anybody does. This is not a false dichotomy,” he said. “I don’t know if they are somehow seeing that my job is to protect the health of people and their job is to help the economy—it doesn’t work that way.”
Gazelka tweeted a second time during the press conference, saying the state is prepared for a surge and does not need to shut down.
“Gov Walz expecting up to 5,000 people in ICU this June,” he wrote on Twitter. “New York State has less than 5,000 people in the ICU TODAY! NY has 19.5 million people to our 5.6 million. We have around 3000 beds available. We are ready for the surge now. Why shut MN business down for a NY sized surge?”
The governor answered the tweet in real time, saying the data and advice from health care experts shows this is how the state needs to be ready.
“I hope that I am as wrong as can be above the needs of beds, but all the data shows me that I cannot risk that at this time,” Walz said.
FOX 9 reached out to Gazelka for an interview, but he declined. His spokesperson said the senator’s tweets speak for themselves.
Gazelka appeared on WCCO Radio Friday morning, saying he wish he didn't tweet right before the governor's news conference, but affirmed his position on the stay-at-home extension.
"I know that he did not like that I put out the public comment," Gazelka said. "I did tell him that privately, as he announced to us what he was gonna do and the timing. I wish I would have done better. You know, I'm sheltering at home. I'm working from home and I put it out just before his press conference. I wish I had not done that. I'm doing calls all day long, and I'm not really keeping track of every one of his press conferences."
"We're all battling to make sure our lives stay intact," Gazelka said. "If I believe he is on the wrong path I have to point that out."
On WCCO Radio, Gazelka said he supports social distancing" but thinks it's time to get people back to work.
"Social distancing, I'm a big fan of. I think everyone needs to work on that. That is a way we can stop the spread. I just think we need to let people get out there at work if they can do it safely and follow CDC guidelines and shelter people over 70."