One year ago, Minnesota and its schools, businesses, sports, recreational facilities and most all other aspects of the state were shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our Iron Range communities missed out on events including 4th of July Celebrations, Land of the Loon Festivals, parades, graduations, weddings and funerals.

It has been a long year. In March of 2020 there was almost unanimous agreement that it was appropriate for Governor Walz to use his emergency powers to issue closure orders to maintain the health and safety of Minnesotans. We faced a virus we didn't really understand, didn't know how to treat and for which there was no vaccine. Over the last year, the state's business community and citizens alike have faced personal loss, financial difficulty and threats to their physical and mental health.

We sacrificed together to slow the spread of COVID-19 to ensure there were hospital beds for those in greatest need.

Today, we understand much more about COVID-19 than we did a year ago. We have three vaccines that have been granted emergency authorization by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and more than 20% of Minnesotans have received at least one dose of those vaccines. Our hospitals have developed best practices that allow them to better treat patients with COVID-19 and the death rate among such patients has fallen. President Biden announced last week that vaccinations will be available to all adults in the United States by the end of May. This timeline was bumped up by two months after the Johnson & Johnson vaccinate received emergency use approval by the FDA.

One year after our state was initially shut down, it is time for the governor and legislature to work together to wind down Minnesota's State of Emergency designation. Our businesses deserve certainty so they can properly plan for full capacity and ensure they have adequate staff to serve Minnesotans who will be anxious to emerge in a post-pandemic world. While we appreciate the governor's recent decision to expand capacity limits for a number of business sectors, it is time to move beyond turning the dials and plan toward a full reopening of the state. Based on President Biden's plan, 70% of Minnesotans could be vaccinated by the end of May. It seems reasonable that our businesses should be able to fully reopen at the same time this metric is met.

This plan would let business owners watch the metrics and be able to plan for a specific reopening date.

It would let people planning weddings and celebrations know they are safe to move forward. It would let communities know they can plan their 4th of July and other summer celebrations. Governor Walz, we've all sacrificed a lot to help Minnesota get to where we are in the pandemic response. Please move forward with specific reopening plans so we can come together and safely celebrate what we have achieved.

Sincerely,

Erik Holmstrom

President, Laurentian

Chamber of Commerce

Senator David Tomassoni

Representative Dave Lislegard

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