This week at the State Capitol, much of our work has been dedicated to ensuring that Minnesota is prepared for COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus. Following the first case of COVID-19 in the state last Friday, the Minnesota Legislature acted swiftly and unanimously to pass $20.8 million in investments for the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). We have amazing public health professionals in our state, and these funds will help them combat this virus.
Today, Governor Walz declared a peacetime state of emergency, emphasizing the need to deploy community mitigation strategies (canceling large events, avoiding crowds and travel, keeping substantial space between you and others). This is a quickly evolving situation, but these recommendations don’t mean that healthy Minnesotans should bar themselves from leaving their home entirely, rather that practical measures should be taken to prevent the contraction and spread of COVID-19.
The best thing we as a community can do at this time is follow the recommendations of our public health officials, things like frequently washing our hands, covering coughs and sneezes, staying home when sick, and staying informed. MDH’s website is a fantastic source of up-to-date information that can be found here, and a daily hotline will be available from 7am-7pm to answer all coronavirus-related questions. That number is (651) 201-3920.
This is an issue I take seriously, and while I’m grateful we were able to quickly get these funds to MDH, I anticipate more legislation will be needed in the weeks ahead. This week, my colleagues in the House DFL introduced a series of bills aimed at addressing issues that may arise as we continue to deal with COVID-19. Together, these bills would:
- Require health plans to cover all costs of testing, treatment, and quarantine related to COVID-19.
- Ban price gouging of necessary goods and services during an emergency.
- Compensate hourly school workers for days canceled or missed due to COVID-19.
- Expand the Governor’s authority to declare public health emergencies as possible peacetime emergencies.
- Establish a loan account for health care providers.
- Expand unemployment insurance and sick leave benefits during times of emergency.
These are just some of the many proposals we’ll be considering as we formulate our next steps in making sure Minnesota remains strong during and after this pandemic. I’ll continue to update our community as we receive more information from MDH. If you have any questions about our work in the Minnesota House, please feel free to contact me at (651) 296-3751 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rep. Michael V. Nelson