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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Chris Swedzinski (R)

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Legislative update

Friday, April 24, 2020

Dear Neighbor,

Here is wishing you and yours good health as we continue working to combat COVID-19 in our state. There is some news to touch on this week regarding some workers getting back on the job and a breakthrough collaboration in testing for the virus. Here are some notes on those subjects and more:

Some workers returning

Gov. Tim Walz announced that industrial, manufacturing, and office-based businesses will be able to reopen effective this coming Monday, as long as they create and share a safety plan for keeping employees safe, conduct daily health screenings of employees upon their arrival, and continue teleworking whenever possible. The Department of Labor and Industry will have an optional template plan available to use as a start point. The Department of Employment and Economic Development will be hosting two webinars to discuss this process. More information on the webinars can be found here

We need to do more to safely get our economy going again, but between 80,000-100,000 Minnesotans will be able to get back to work through this move, one step toward re-opening our businesses. This link has more info on the guidelines, along with details on what businesses are allowed to return to work, so please check that out if you have questions. 

While that news is encouraging for thousands of businesses who have been waiting to safely reopen they doors, I know many are still frustrated and uncertain about the days and weeks ahead, and wondering when they will be able to do the same. My hope is this announcement is a path forward so we can get our economy moving again and help Minnesotans return to work safely. We will continue working with the Walz administration to help reopen as many businesses as possible, and do it in a way that protects the health and safety of employees and our communities. 

COVID-19 testing to ramp up

We also received good news this week regarding efforts to combat the COVID-19 outbreak, with the announcement of a new partnership to significantly ramp up testing capacity. The governor did not indicate an exact date when we can expect to see that capacity reached, but suggested we should start to see an increase shortly. Here are some quick details:

  • A new partnership with Mayo Clinic and University of Minnesota, funded by the COVID-19 Minnesota fund, will establish capacity to deliver 20,000 molecular and 15,000 serology tests per day. This will allow testing of all symptomatic people, and in turn we can isolate and trace contacts for positive cases. 
  • The partnership will help collect data to identify hotspots, conduct further research into how best to treat and prevent COVID-19.

This effort could be a big help in helping our state re-open in a safe, effective manner so we can continue to protect people as workers get back on the job. Please understand this is a major logistical undertaking so, while this is good news, it still will require some time for us to get our system up to speed to handle this volume so we can incrementally re-open Minnesota.

Resorts can be open for business

There has been much uncertainty and even some misinformation regarding how the governor’s executive orders on COVID-19 impact Minnesota’s resorts, a major industry in this part of the state. The fact is, resorts never were closed under the governor’s orders and here is the most up to date and accurate guidance we have received:

  • The hotel portions of resorts (including rented cabins) can open as planned and can accept guests.
  • Guests do not have to be members of a critical sector to stay at a resort.
  • Communal amenities may not be open for use.
  • While resorts can accept visitors, the Stay at Home Order continues to discourage unnecessary travel, and the Order asks people to remain close to their homes.
  • Resorts do not have to open if they are not comfortable doing so. 

Maintenance and cleaning staff can begin work now to prepare for the season. Of course, health and safety of employees and guests should remain a priority throughout the season, so please do your part.

RV resorts and campgrounds also are open, with certain conditions. Click here for more information on those facilities.

Resource for farmers

Farmers looking for information to help navigate the COVID-19 outbreak are encouraged to check out a Minnesota Department of Agriculture website as a resource. It has numerous topics and contacts for department staff. The site covers issues from questions about meat processing to mental health resources to financial support through RFA.

Look for more news soon. The House is scheduled to conduct another session on Tuesday, so stay tuned for any developments on legislation that may be brought to the floor that day for consideration. As always, let me know if there is any way I can be of help.