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Testing deal good news for getting back to work

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz is calling it a breakthrough for rapid and widespread testing for COVID-19. He made that assessment during his Wednesday briefing where he announced an agreement with the University of Minnesota and the Mayo Clinic to test as many as 20,000 people per day for the coronavirus.

This is a big announcement for a governor who has been under pressure by Republicans recently to lift the statewide shutdown over the pandemic. This agreement may allow the state to quickly move toward goal shared by all Minnesota residents — getting back to work. That’s because testing is one of the key elements for containing the spread of the virus.

The announcement received the endorsement from the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, which represents hundreds of businesses in the state, understands the importance of testing.

“Today’s announcement to leverage the unique capabilities of the Mayo Clinic, University of Minnesota and our incredible health systems statewide will ensure Minnesota has the testing and related public health infrastructure necessary to support businesses and their employees as they work to re-engage the economic engine of the state. We urge the Governor to move expeditiously on testing as we work to bring more businesses and employees safely back to work,” Minnesota Chamber President Doug Loon said in statement released shortly after Walz’s announcement.

The state’s testing development comes on the heels of major national development that should benefit Minnesotans. Minnesota’s two U.S. senators touted two of the components of the second relief package passed by the Senate. It provides $75 billion for hospitals and $25 billion for testing. Hopefully some of this aid will trickle down to southwest Minnesota.

“The money for testing will allow us to better understand the breadth of this pandemic and hopefully push the Trump administration to finally put in place a coordinated testing plan that health experts tell us is essential to getting our economy reopened,” Sen. Tina Smith said in her statement released Tuesday.

Their announcements followed Monday’s release of major report on why testing is so important for the nation to squelching the COVID-19 pandemic. The The Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University put out its Roadmap to Pandemic Resilience. It’s authors point out the keys for the nation to overcome the destruction by COVID-19 to the economy.

The roadmap points to three factors: Massive scale testing, tracing and supported isolation.

We’ve been doing the isolation for weeks now, and it’s no fun. And we may have to continue some limited isolation for many months to come. However, the combination of the testing and tracing gives us hope that freedom from COVID-19 is just around the corner. And Minnesotans can get back to work.

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