The COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve and challenge our communities in unimaginable ways. Governor Walz, state health officials, and lawmakers continue to work on solutions to protect Minnesotans health, safety, and economic wellbeing during this crisis. Here’s an update on recent developments.
Yesterday, legislators returned to the State Capitol – practicing physical distancing guidelines the entire time – to enact a bipartisan, comprehensive package of legislation addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill created a new $200 million COVID-19 Fund in the state treasury to enable state agencies to respond to COVID-19 related challenges. As part of the legislation, I was proud to champion a $9 million Food Security Package, because no one deserves to go hungry as they experience economic hardship. The package invests in regional food banks, allows food shelves to purchase food, diapers, toilet paper, and other necessary supplies, and supports the distribution of food and supplies to people impacted by COVID-19.
The bill also included $26.5 million for the Emergency Service Grants program to provide shelter for Minnesota’s homeless population, $30 million in one-time grants to child care providers, $10 million for small business loans, financial relief for displaced workers, and the necessary flexibility for state agencies to respond to the pandemic. Learn more about the legislation here.
The Legislature remains in recess and on-call to return to the Capitol as needed. In the meantime, we will keep working on other important measures, like pay for hourly school workers, workers’ compensation benefits for first responders who might become ill due to COVID-19, temporary court changes requested by the judicial branch, a jobs and local projects bill, and other solutions to protect the economic security of individuals and small businesses.
Governor Walz took a bold, but necessary step in issuing a “Stay at Home” order for a two-week period beginning tonight at 11:59 p.m. Minnesotans are asked to not leave their homes except for essential travel, like trips to get food, medical appointments, or outdoor activities like fitness or walking a pet. While data shows that Minnesotans have been largely practicing physical distancing guidelines, this step is necessary to ensure our health care system has the capacity to treat Minnesotans who may become afflicted, especially with a limited amount of ICU units and ventilators. Read the executive order here, and a list of Frequently Asked Questions is available here.
Minnesotans may leave their residences only to perform any of the following activities, and while doing so, they should practice social distancing:
The Minnesota Department of Health’s (MDH) Metro Immigrant and Refugee Health Network is working with diverse communities to raise awareness and minimize impacts from COVID-19. Here are some resources, and if you are involved in a community organization I encourage you to share these:
Additionally, Twin Cities PBS and St. Paul Neighborhood Network have produced a special episode of the program “Almanac” and it’s translated into Spanish, Hmong, and Somali.
The Minnesota Department of Health remains the best resource for accurate, up-to-date information regarding this pandemic. Please visit their website for informative resources. For resources for workers and businesses, including Unemployment Insurance, visit the Department of Employment and Economic Development’s website.
We all must continue to do our part to stop the spread of this illness. Please wash your hands often and thoroughly, cover your cough with your sleeve, and stay home if you aren’t feeling well. Also, please take the guidance from Governor Walz and Stay at Home.
Don’t hesitate to call me at 651-296-5158 or email me at email@example.com if I can be of help in any way. As Minnesotans, we will get beyond this crisis together.
It’s an honor to represent you.