It’s been a busy and eventful week in Minnesota. On Monday, the first batch of COVID-19 vaccines arrived in our state, and the Legislature reached a compromise to pass an economic assistance package that provides critical support for small businesses and working families. The bill was signed into law on Wednesday. More information about the bill is included below.
Sen. Jason Isaacson, Rep. Kelly Moller, and I are holding a virtual town hall on Saturday, January 9 at 10 a.m. We hope you’ll join us to discuss your ideas and priorities for the upcoming legislative session. The town hall will be held on Zoom, a free videoconferencing platform. To participate, click here when the event begins or call 312-626-6799 and enter the meeting ID (831 1637 7275) and password (320937) when prompted. If you have a question for us, you can also send it ahead of time to my assistant Anna at email@example.com
Earlier this week, we passed a new COVID-19 assistance package that delivers critical aid to small businesses and working families. The bill provides $88 million of direct financial support for businesses experiencing economic harm due to the pandemic. Restaurants, bars, breweries, gyms, and more will be eligible for this aid. Movie theaters and convention centers will receive $14 million of grants. Another $114.8 million will be distributed among counties to provide grants to other impacted businesses, such as hotels, museums, and live theater venues.
The legislation also extends unemployment insurance in order to protect the economic security of Minnesotans who’ve exhausted their benefits. As a result, more than 100,000 workers – including those who are set to lose benefits when federal unemployment funding expires on December 26 – will receive 13 more weeks of benefits.
This assistance will help small businesses and working families make ends meet as we wait for more aid from the federal government. However, we know it doesn’t address all of the issues Minnesotans are facing. Hopefully Congress will follow our lead and provide additional assistance soon. In the meantime, I’ll keep working with Minnesotans and leaders at all levels of government to find ways to ease the burden and help people get through this pandemic.
Governor Walz recently announced the next steps in Minnesota’s fight against COVID-19. Some of the measures that restaurants, bars, gyms, and other venues are currently following will change on Saturday, December 19:
Further changes will take effect next month. Youth and adult sports can resume practices on January 4. On January 18, elementary schools may opt to begin in-person learning as long as they’re able to implement additional safety measures. You can find more information about these guidelines here.
Governor Walz unveiled a COVID-19 vaccination plan last week, a few days before the FDA authorized the first vaccine for emergency use. The goal is to quickly, equitably, and safely deliver a free vaccine to every Minnesotan who wants one, while ensuring we make the most of the limited initial supply.
The arrival of the vaccine is great news, but we’re still several months away from it being widely available. Health care workers and long-term care residents will be the first to receive the vaccine, followed by essential workers, seniors, and people with preexisting conditions who are more likely to become seriously ill if they contract the virus. In the meantime, it’s important to continue doing all we can to keep our communities safe, including wearing a mask, social distancing, staying home when possible, and getting tested if you feel sick.
As always, please don’t hesitate to contact me if I can be of assistance or if you have questions or feedback that you’d like to share. You can reach me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 651-296-7153.