ST. PAUL, Minn. (FOX 9) - As he extends the state's stay-at-home order until May 18, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz is urging state residents to wear masks when out in public situations.
Walz's decision on Thursday extended the stay-at-home order, which was set to expire on Monday, but further relaxed restrictions put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The governor says wearing masks and practicing basic social distancing are tools that will allow Minnesota to move back towards normal.
But, as we reopen Minnesota, Walz says certain things won't be the same, at least until the pandemic is over with. That includes continuing to wear masks in public.
"I would like to think we're in a marathon," Governor Walz explained. "People say, 'Oh we're at mile 20.' Those who know, mile 20 to miles 26.2 are the hardest part. And I think our analogy is, we've done a lot of good work, I think we're running into that place."
Walz warns that it would be a mistake to rest now on mile 20.
"What you've done has worked," he said. "It only works if you choose to do this. As I've said, wearing the masks and social distancing is for the first responders, it's for the most vulnerable, it's for your neighbors... Let's grind it out on this marathon and get to the other side."
"Is it pleasant to go out in a mask?" Walz added. "Is it pleasant to wait six feet to go into Trader Joe's? No. None of those things are."
But Walz says it works and it prevents COVID-19 spread.
On a positive note, Walz says a drive this past weekend collected 130,000 homemade masks donated by Minnesotans that will go towards care facilities.