The COVID-19 outbreak is presenting us all with a set of challenges unlike anything most of us have ever seen. The most important thing right now is to continue to be in communication with the people I represent, providing assistance or directing folks to services that are available.
The House formally will remain in session as the state addresses the pressing public health issue surrounding COVID-19, with meetings and floor sessions taking place on an on-call basis until April 14. McDonalds said alternate means of working will allow the House to respond to the needs of Minnesotans, while also fully complying with Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) guidelines including social distancing, limiting large gatherings, telework, and increased cleaning measures necessitated by COVID-19.
McDonald indicated MDH hotlines are available to assist Minnesotans, including a public line (651) 201-3920 and a line for questions specifically related to schools and/or childcare (651) 297-1304. Several online resources also are available to help individuals stay up to date:
Early Tuesday morning, the House approved nearly $200 million in additional funding to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill provides $50 million to the Public Health Response Contingency Account for use by providers, ambulance services, health care clinics, hospitals, and long term care facilities. It also allocates $150 million to the newly-created Health Care Response Fund for grants to providers for costs necessary for COVID-19 response.
This outbreak is coming with great consequences for workers. The governor has issued an executive order to ensure workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic have full access to unemployment benefits. According to the Minnesota Unemployment Insurance Program, the executive order makes applicants eligible for unemployment insurance benefits if:
The executive order also eliminates the one week waiting period to ensure applicants have access to unemployment benefits as quickly as possible, and assures business owners that benefits paid as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic will not increase their future unemployment tax rate.
If your employment has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the department urges you to apply for unemployment benefits online. Visit the Unemployment Insurance Program website to learn more.
Minnesota’s public health professionals and other emergency responders are exceptional in their fields and words do not suffice in the debt of gratitude they are owed. While our world may have been turned a bit upside-down by this COVID-19 outbreak, the short-term changes we are adopting will help us to come out stronger on the other side.
Please stay in communication and let me know if there is any way I can assist in overcoming this challenge. Have a safe St. Patrick's Day!