Minnesota Political Leadership Reels Under COVID-19 Onslaught

RICHMOND, VA - FEBRUARY 29: Democratic Presidential Candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) speaks during a campaign rally at the Altria Theatre on February 29, 2020 in Richmond, Virginia. Klobuchar continues to seek su... RICHMOND, VA - FEBRUARY 29: Democratic Presidential Candidate Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) speaks during a campaign rally at the Altria Theatre on February 29, 2020 in Richmond, Virginia. Klobuchar continues to seek support for the Democratic nomination leading into the Super Tuesday vote on March 3. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images) MORE LESS
March 23, 2020 11:22 a.m.

The novel coronavirus has hit home for three Minnesota political leaders, with Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan all being personally affected by the pandemic.

Klobuchar said that her husband has coronavirus after receiving his test results earlier Monday morning. The Minnesota senator added that she and her daughter are in contact with him digitally while he is “cut off from all visitors.”

“While I cannot see him and he is of course cut off from all visitors, our daughter Abigail and I are constantly calling and texting and emailing,” Klobuchar said in a statement. “We love him very much and pray for his recovery. He is exhausted and sick but a very strong and resilient person.”

Klobuchar noted that her husband began feeling sick while she was in Minnesota and he was in Washington, D.C. Although her husband thought he only had a cold, Klobuchar said that he “immediately quarantined” himself as a precaution and stopped going to his job teaching in Baltimore.

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“He kept having a temperature and a bad, bad cough and when he started coughing up blood he got a test and a chest X-ray and they checked him into a hospital in Virginia because of a variety of things including very low oxygen levels which haven’t really improved,” Klobuchar said in the statement. “He now has pneumonia and is on oxygen but not a ventilator.”

Klobuchar added that because she and her husband have been in different places for the last two weeks, in addition to how she’s outside the 14-day incubation period for the coronavirus, her doctor advised her against getting tested.

Gov. Walz told the Star Tribune Monday that he will self-quarantine for the next two weeks after a member of his security team who he was in close proximity to late last week tested positive for the coronavirus the night before.

“The most important thing Minnesotans can do to stop the spread of COVID-19 is to stay home,” Walz said in a statement, according to the Star Tribune. “I’m using this as an opportunity to lead by example. Though I’m feeling healthy and not showing any symptoms, I’m going to work from home and model the protocol we are asking all Minnesotans to follow.”

On Sunday night, Flanagan, the state’s lieutenant governor, revealed in an Instagram post that her brother Ron, who was recently diagnosed with cancer, passed away in Tennessee after contracting the coronavirus. Her brother’s passing came almost two months after the death of their father.

“To many, he’ll be a statistic: Tennessee’s second COVID-related death,” Flanagan wrote in an Instagram post. “But to me, I’ll remember a loving, older brother, uncle, father, and husband. Ron was a tough-as-nails Marine who was a big teddy bear on the inside. He never left my dad’s side during his final weeks and took care of everyone else in the way only he could.”

Flanagan also highlighted the importance of social distancing in light of her brother’s death.

“If you feel fine, that’s great. But please consider the possibility that you’re carrying the virus and don’t know it, and then you walk past the next Ron, my big brother, in public,” Flanagan wrote. “COVID-19 now has a personal connection to me. Please do all you can to prevent one for you. #StayHomeMN.”

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