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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Michael Nelson (DFL)

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The Latest on COVID-19

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Rep. Nelson


I hope you and your loved ones are faring well during these challenging times. Major changes to how we live our lives have been happening in quick succession, and I know the uncertainty can be one of the hardest things to deal with right now. At the State Capitol, we’re continuing to work on ways to make sure Minnesota remains strong during and after this pandemic, and I take solace in the ways I’ve seen our community and state band together as we weather this storm. 

Here’s a quick update on what we’ve been working on, as well as information on some helpful resources. 


Emergency Support for Health Care

In the early hours of Tuesday, the Minnesota House and Senate passed our latest bill in response to the coronavirus. The bill, now law, allocates $200 million toward an emergency and long-term grant program, designed to respond to the needs of health care and long-term care facilities.

The funds could be used to help plan, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19 in a range of ways, including:

  • the establishment and operation of temporary sites to provide testing services, treatment beds, or to isolate or quarantine affected people
  • staff overtime, the hiring of additional staff, and training or orientation
  • expenses related to the isolation or quarantine of staff

You can read more about these new investments here.


Restricting Restaurants, Closing Venues

Businesses open to the public have been ordered to shut their doors in Minnesota, including restaurants, bars, movie theaters, gyms, museums, and many others. Thousands of Minnesotans are now living with either reduced hours, or a lack of dependable income. This is a tough, but necessary pill to swallow, and highlights what’s at stake for us to take this epidemic seriously. To those whose employment has been impacted by these measures, I highly encourage you to look into Minnesota’s unemployment benefits, which you can find and apply for here.

It should be noted that many restaurants are able to continue business through take-out or drive-thru methods. If you’re able, consider supporting a local business for dinner sometime this week.


School Closures

There have been several important state and federal announcements, all of them in quick succession over the past couple days, including the closure of Minnesota’s schools. The next few days will be used to accommodate planning between school staff, teachers, and administrators with guidance from the Minnesota Department of Education and the Minnesota Department of Health on how to make sure Minnesota’s students are able to continue their studies during this pandemic. 

During this time, schools will be required to provide care for elementary-age children of health care professionals, first responders, and other emergency workers during previously planned school days to ensure Minnesota’s first line of defense against COVID-19 can stay on the job. It also makes provisions for the continuity of mental health services and requires schools to continue providing meals to students in need.

If you have any questions on school closures or child care, please make use of the numbers and link below:

  • Call 651-297-1304 or 1-800-657-3504 (7am-7pm daily)
  • Visit 
  • Child care providerswith questions should call 1-888-234-1268 


Stay Informed

A reminder that the best source of accurate, up-to-date information on COVID-19 in the state is the Minnesota Department of Health, who just released several informational documents on the coronavirus in various languages:

COVID-19 in Amharic (PDF)

COVID-19 in Arabic (PDF)

COVID-19 in Chinese (PDF)

COVID-19 in Hmong (PDF)

COVID-19 in Karen (PDF)

COVID-19 in Russian (PDF)

COVID-19 in Somali (PDF)

COVID-19 in Spanish (PDF)

COVID-19 in Vietnamese (PDF)  


MDH has also set up non-English versions of its coronavirus website. A full list of available languages and links to each page is available below. 





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




Rep. Michael V. Nelson