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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Mary Kunesh-Podein (DFL)

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COVID-19 Update #1

Monday, March 16, 2020

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Rep. Kunesh-Podein

Dear Neighbors,

These next few weeks will be trying times for most of us as we rearrange our families and adjust our work following the advice of our health professionals and elected officials. We, at the Capitol, will continue to work with our State’s leadership to ensure the best possible outcome for every Minnesotan. Today, using new best practices, the legislature is taking necessary preventative actions needed to slow the spread of COVID-19. We ask that each and every one of us do our part in this collective effort to save lives. Here is what you should know.

For our part, Legislators are here at the Capitol, poised to take any legislative action that may be necessary to implement the State’s emergency plans. To minimize the spread of the virus, our committee meetings have been cancelled this week, yet we continue to work on the most pressing issues as best we can. I will be available to respond to constituent communications so please call or e-mail rather than appearing, here, in person.

School Cancellations

On Sunday, March 15, Governor Walz signed Executive Order 20-02, authorizing the temporary closure of Minnesota K-12 public schools to students in order for school administrators and teachers to make long-term plans for the continuity of education and essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools will be closed to students by Wednesday, March 18 through Friday, March 27 to accommodate this planning between school staff, teachers, and administrators with guidance from the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). Executive Order 20-02 requires schools to provide care for elementary-age children of health care professionals, first responders, and other emergency workers during previously planned school days to ensure Minnesota’s first line of defense against COVID-19 can stay on the job. It also makes provisions for the continuity of mental health services and requires schools to continue providing meals to students in need.  As a library media specialist these past 25 years, I know firsthand that it is no easy task to produce an effective online education program so quickly. This was certainly a tough call for Gov. Walz, but one I believe is for the benefit of all Minnesotans. You can watch the full statements of Gov. Walz and the Department of Education Commissioner Ricker here.

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Help prevent the spread

One term we should all get more familiar with is “social distancing.” This is the practice of intentional isolation to reduce the overall level of contact between people and thus reduce opportunities for COVID-19 to spread. What this means for you and me, is to avoid attending events with 250 or more people, avoid going to crowded bars or restaurants. And when you must go out in public, do your best to stay at least 6 feet away from others. It is also encouraged to work from home if at all possible. You can read about other strategies to slow the spread of COVID-19 at the MDH website. The more we distance ourselves now, the sooner we will be able to return to normalcy.

MDH has set up a public hotline that will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. The hotline number is 651-201-3920. You can also visit www.health.state.mn.us for up-to-date and accurate information about what Minnesota is doing to prepare for and stop the spread of COVID-19.

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Additional Important Information

  • For any child care question please reach out to the Minnesota Department of Education School and child care questions: Call 651-297-1304 or 1-800-657-3504 (7am-7pm daily) Visit www.education.mn.gov. Child care providers can visit the Minnesota department of Health for more info, here.  
  • If your employment has been affected by COVID-19, you can apply for unemployment benefits. Visit the Minnesota Unemployment Insurance website for more information, apply for unemployment here. Any other questions should be directed at the Minnesota Department of Employment and economic development at 651-259-7114, 800-657-3858 or www.mn.gov/deed.

Keep In Touch

That's all for now - now more than ever, please reach out with comments and questions at rep.mary.kuneshpodein@house.mn or 651-296-4331.

Sincerely,

Mary KP

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