The COVID-19 outbreak continues to alter our daily lives and this weekend will be no different over the Easter/Passover holiday. I imagine people will turn to electronics to celebrate in new ways, both for religious services and family gatherings. It is important to keep the true meaning of this holiday season in mind while navigating the changes in our family traditions and customs that this year brings. I wish you and your family a healthy and blessed holiday. Here is a legislative update from this week:
Stay at Home order update
Gov. Tim Walz on Wednesday extended Minnesota’s Stay at Home order until May 4. He indicated the extension will push the low end of the peak into the range where we will have enough ventilators and ICU beds in Minnesota to accommodate patients. The governor also announced flexibility for more businesses to continue operating, including lawn care, landscaping, agricultural equipment repair, garden centers, nurseries and more. It will be helpful that at least some of our workers can get back on the job.
I support this loosening of some restrictions and look forward to the day our businesses are back up and running as a whole because the damage they are feeling is real. I continue to receive feedback from local businesses and I share their concerns.
New insulin option
A new, low-cost option is available for people who are having trouble affording insulin. Eli Lilly and Company pharmaceuticals has introduced the Lilly Insulin Value Program, allowing anyone with commercial insurance and those without insurance to fill their monthly prescription of Lilly insulin for $35. Lilly indicates in a press release that the program was motivated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and also says it has no plans for discontinuing the program in the future. Call the Lilly Diabetes Solution Center at (833) 808-1234 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays, or click here for more.
Workers’ compensation expanded
The Minnesota House on Tuesday approved a bill (H.F. 4537) ensuring first responders and health care workers receive their full workers’ compensation benefits and coverage in the event they test positive for COVID-19. The move addresses concerns that damages suffered from the virus would not be covered by the state’s current no-fault workers’ compensation system, a form of insurance that provides salary replacement and medical benefits for workers injured in the course of their jobs. Click here for more details of the bill.
Disaster loans for farmers
The Minnesota Disaster Recovery Loan Program is now accessible to farmers who are suffering financial damages related to the COVID-19 outbreak after the Legislature expanded access to the funds. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture indicates program dollars can be used to “replace livestock or flocks, make building improvements, or cover the loss of revenue. Loan proceeds may also be used to repair or replace septic and water systems, and replace destroyed agricultural buildings.” More can be found at the MDA website, or by calling (651) 201-6666.
Two programs for veterans
On March 26, the Minnesota Legislature created two new programs to assist Veterans who may be financially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Disaster Relief Grants and Special Needs Grants both have been activated specifically in response to mitigate the economic effects COVID-19 is having on our veterans and their families. Full information can be found at this link.
Unemployment insurance increase
The Department of Employment and Economic Development announces it has authorized the first payments of the temporary additional compensation of $600/week for people receiving unemployment insurance benefits. DEED indicates no additional steps are necessary for people receiving unemployment to receive the increase; it will take place automatically. The week beginning March 29 is the first week for which you can get the additional $600, with those requests having started April 5. This website has more details on this and other unemployment insurance subjects.
I once again wish you a blessed Easter/Passover holiday weekend. Stay healthy and look for more news soon. The House has a floor session scheduled for this Tuesday, so stay tuned for any developments that may occur.