The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a lot of uncertainty, and I know many community members have questions about what the coming days and weeks might look like. While an in-person gathering isn’t safe or practical at this time, I do want to remain connected to all of you and remain available to hear your concerns.
With that in mind, I’m holding a virtual town hall meeting tomorrow, Friday, March 27, at noon. We’ll meet on Zoom, a free video meeting app. To join us, you’ll need to download the app and then click this meeting link.
If you have any questions that you’d like me to address, please feel free to email me ahead of time at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to answering your questions and listening to your input.
House Passes COVID-19 Assistance Package
This afternoon, the Minnesota House passed a package of legislation that will help protect Minnesotans’ health and economic well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic. Among other things, the bill provides:
- Zero percent interest, partially forgivable loans for small businesses
- Immediate Unemployment Insurance benefits for people who can’t work due to COVID-19
- Funding for food and housing security
- Grants for child care providers
- Support for displaced college students
- Financial assistance for veterans
This legislation will deliver much-needed relief to Minnesotans who are struggling, but there are more issues we’ll need to address in the coming days, weeks, and months. My colleagues and I will continue working hard on behalf of the people of Minnesota.
More information about the COVID-19 assistance package is available here.
Stay at Home Order
Governor Walz announced yesterday that a stay at home order will begin Friday, March 27 at 11:59 p.m. The order directs Minnesotans to stay at home and limit movement outside their homes until Friday, April 10 at 5 p.m.
You will be able to leave your home to buy food, get medical supplies or treatment, exercise, and more. However, you should keep a six-foot distance between yourself and others while doing so. Workers in the following fields are exempt from the executive order:
- Health care and public health
- Law enforcement, public safety, and first responders
- Emergency shelters, congregate living facilities, and drop-in centers
- Child care
- Food and agriculture
- News media
- Water and wastewater
- Critical manufacturing
More information about the stay at home order is available here.
Governor Walz also implemented a Distance Learning Period for Minnesota students from March 30 through May 4 and extended the temporary closure of restaurants, bars, and other gathering places until May 1. A full list of the executive orders that Governor Walz has issued is available here.
Help for Small Businesses Available
Many small businesses are experiencing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19. The U.S. Small Business Association (SBA) has launched an Economic Injury Disaster Loan program to help small businesses and nonprofits overcome the temporary loss of revenue. The federal agency is accepting applications for loans of up to $2 million. For more information, click here or call the SBA’s disaster assistance customer service center at 1-800-659-2955.
The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) has established a Small Business Emergency Loan program to provide immediate assistance to small businesses. The program will offer interest-free loans of $2,500 to $35,000 that may qualify for partial forgiveness. Small businesses can apply here.
MNsure Special Enrollment Period
On Monday, MNsure launched a special enrollment period for qualified individuals who are currently without insurance. The special enrollment period began on March 23 and runs through Tuesday, April 21, giving uninsured Minnesotans 30 days to enroll in health coverage through MNsure.org. MNsure has a statewide network of expert assisters who provide free help to applicants. You can find an assister here or call the MNsure Contact Center at 651-539-2099 or 855-366-7873 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. for assistance.
Tax Filing Deadline Extended
The Minnesota Department of Revenue recently announced that the state income tax filing deadline has been extended. Minnesotans now have until Wednesday, July 15 to file their returns without any penalties or interest. The deadline for filing federal tax returns was pushed back to July 15 as well. More information is available here.
Please be safe and stay home.