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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Lisa Demuth (R)

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Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Dear Neighbor

I would like to pass along a note to let the residents of District 13A know that I remain on task and available as a resource for citizens as the state combats the current COVID-19 outbreak.

People are urged to take advantage of Minnesota Department of Health hotlines, including a public line (651) 201-3920 and a line for questions specifically related to schools and/or childcare (651) 297-1304. Several online resources also are available to help individuals stay up to date:

At the local level, call CentraCare at (320) 200-3200 to speak to a nurse 24 hours a day, seven days a week. CentraCare also offers curbside service with an appointment. Benton and Stearns counties also are partnering on a COVID-19 hotline, available 8:30-4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at (877) 782-5683.

Early Tuesday morning, the House approved 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. 

This outbreak is coming with great consequences for workers and business owners in Minnesota. The governor has issued an 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.

Please stay in communication and let me know if there is any way I can assist in overcoming this challenge.

Sincerely,

Lisa

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