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Legislative Update – August 18, 2021

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Dear Neighbors,I hope you’re enjoying your summer with family and friends. Labor Day and the start of a new school year are upon us, and if you have students in your family, I hope they will have a safe, rewarding, and successful school year. COVID-19 UpdateLast week, I participated in a briefing with the Minnesota Department of Health where state officials gave a status update on the pandemic. Thank you to everyone who has done their part to help defeat COVID-19 by getting vaccinated. So far, 3,031,445 Minnesotans have completed their series of vaccine, with 70 percent of people 16 or older having at least one dose. While we all wish the pandemic was behind us by now, the cases of the Delta variant – which spreads twice as easily between people as prior strains – continue to increase. In June, the Delta variant accounted for less than 1 percent of cases in Minnesota; now it accounts for more than 90 percent of cases.  People infected by Delta have more of the virus in their body than previous variants. While there are reasons to be concerned and cautious, one piece is very important: virtually all hospitalizations and deaths continue to be among the unvaccinated.Yesterday, the Minnesota Department of Health and Department of Education announced resources for students and school staff to get tested regularly. Schools will have access to a variety of tests and will determine which type works best for their school and their community.  The CDC and MDH recommend that all unvaccinated school-age children and school staff get tested for COVID-19 at least weekly throughout the school year, while vaccinated students should get tested if they were exposed to someone who has COVID-19 or are experiencing symptoms. MDE will offer grant funding for tests to all school districts, charter schools, tribal schools and nonpublic schools. More information is available here.Testing remains a critical component of controlling the virus’s spread. Minnesotans can get tested the following ways:Order a test through the state’s no-cost at-home COVID-19 testing program.Find a testing option near you through the state’s Find Testing Locations map.Walk-in or schedule an appointment for a test at one of the state’s no-cost community testing sites across Minnesota. Vaccine Rewards: ExtendedThe single most important thing people can do to protect themselves, their family, and their community from COVID-19 is to get vaccinated.  More than 55,000 Minnesotans took advantage of an opportunity to receive a $100 Visa gift card for getting vaccinated. Due to the incentive program’s popularity, Governor Walz extended the eligibility period through August 22. For more information or to claim your reward, visit this website and find a vaccine provider here. Milbank Fellows ProgramI’m honored to have recently been selected to participate as a fellow in the Milbank Memorial Fund Fellowship program. In this program, I look forward to working with national health policy experts to improve population health across states. There’s a lot we can learn from one another to examine areas of common concern and discuss solutions to improve outcomes, reduce costs, and strengthen health within communities. In the program, we will have access to a variety of evidence-based resources, and I’m hopeful this experience will offer some helpful takeaways I can bring to my work in the Minnesota House to improve health and wellbeing across our state.Please continue to stay in touch with your viewpoints, ideas, or if I can ever be of assistance. Thank you for the honor to work as your public servant.Sincerely,Jen SchultzState Representative

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