Minnesota officials project between 40 and 80 percent of Minnesotans will be infected with COVID-19 before the pandemic lets up, Gov. Tim Walz said Monday, as he considered more aggressive measures to curb the new coronavirus' spread.

While the "vast majority" of those cases would be mild, Walz said, he is still considering a shelter-in-place order for the state. If enacted, he said its duration would “probably have to be more like multiple weeks to months."

Asked Monday about whether Minnesota would cancel school for the year, Walz said: "As the situation evolves it may become necessary to do that." For now, he wants virtual and distance learning to take root.

Minnesota had 235 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Monday, but public health officials said that number is actually much higher — testing remains limited to the highest-risk patients — and that community spread was happening throughout the state.

The governor and other state leaders made several other announcements concerning the COVID-19 outbreak and the government's response:

A small-business loan program beginning later this week could make up to 5,000 businesses eligible for loans between $2,500 and $35,000.

Walz's revised budget request seeks an additional $356 million for coronavirus response.

Elective veterinary services are halted to preserve the stock of personal protective equipment, or PPEs.

The National Guard will disperse PPEs from Camp Ripley as officials develop a centralized system to manage Minnesota’s stock of the supplies.

Officials pleaded with Minnesotans to stay home whenever possible, limit contact with others and wash their hands often.

"We should assume that [COVID-19 is] in all of our communities," Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm told reporters Monday.


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