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News from Dave: Update on State's COVID-19 Response

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Dear Neighbors,

We are living in extraordinary times as we work hard to contain the outbreak of COVID-19 here in Minnesota and across the nation and world.

The Minnesota House of Representatives will remain in session as the state addresses the public health issues surrounding COVID-19, with meetings and floor sessions taking place on an on-call basis until April 14. Alternate means of working will allow legislators 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.

I want to communicate to you that I will remain working hard to represent Kandiyohi County even if legislative work will look different for the foreseeable future.

My job is to ensure that you have the most accurate information possible so that you can make informed decisions to protect the safety of you, your family, and our community. With that said, I know a lot of you have been receiving emails regarding COVID-19 in recent days. I want to respect that and will only be sending out information as it comes up.

If you would like to unsubscribe from these emails, visit this link and follow the instructions.

Things are evolving quickly and changing every day. On Sunday, the Governor announced that all Minnesota schools would close; the Minnesota legislature has altered its session schedule; and Governor Walz announced yesterday the mandatory closure of restaurants, bars, and other public places where crowds generally congregate. 

Closing school, restaurants, bars, clubs, gyms, and other similar spaces businesses across the state will cause significant hardship for many families and individuals.

In order to mitigate some of the economic hardship employees will face, Governor Walz issued an additional 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:

  • A healthcare professional or health authority recommended or ordered them to avoid contact with others.
  • They have been ordered not to come to their workplace due to an outbreak of a communicable disease.
  • They have received notification from a school district, daycare, or other childcare provider that either classes are canceled or the applicant’s ordinary childcare is unavailable, provided that the applicant made reasonable effort to obtain other childcare and requested time off or other accommodation from the employer and no reasonable accommodation was available.

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 at www.uimn.org to learn more.

School Closures and Child Care Information

I also encourage you to visit your school district’s website to learn more about school closures:

The Minnesota Department of Health has a hotline available related to schools and/or childcare. Call (651) 297-1304 for more information. 

Strengthening our Hospitals

Early Tuesday morning, I voted for legislation that provides 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.

Staying in Touch

This health crisis will eventually end and life will return to normal. For now, we need to listen to the advice of health experts and ensure we’re doing everything we can to stop the spread of COVID-19. Look out for each other and help those in need. Together, we will get through this.

Please reach out to me if you have any questions or concerns. I can be reached by phone at 651-296-6206 or via email at rep.dave.baker@house.mn.

Be well,

Dave

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