MINNESOTA-- They hope they don't need them, but they have to be ready if they do. That was the message today from Minnesota Emergency Management Director Joe Kelly about setting up temporary hospitals for coronavirus patients.
Kelly said they've visited seven sites and validated five of them, which can accommodate 600 extra hospital beds.
Their goal is to find sites to house 2,750 beds.
The team was in Duluth looking at locations Tuesday, working to be ready for the surge in patients.
"We're not going to immediately build out all these identified spaces and put stuff in them," said Kelly. "We will convert facilities for this use where and when we need to."
State leaders, including the governor, are encouraging Minnesotans to stay home to buy them time to be ready for the virus to peak.
That's projected to happen any time between mid-May and mid-June, according to experts.
Governor Tim Walz says the state ranks highly for health because people go outside a lot, but he's reminding everyone to social distance.
"We're seeing crowds that are a little too big, especially along the lakes and I would encourage people to continue to think about this and continue to know this is one of the biggest differences we can make," said Walz.
The governor said the state is still gathering data to determine exactly when the virus will peak in Minnesota, but they're erring on it happening sooner rather than later.
The state has also received a waiver from the federal government, so students will not have to take standardized tests this academic year.