As we navigate through a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, I’d like to give an update on where things stand at the state government level as of today (Tuesday, March 17), including actions already taken by the Legislature and the Governor, and current measures we are advancing to support workers, employers, and health care providers.
TIMELINE OF STATE GOVERNMENT RESPONSE
- On Friday, March 6, public health officials confirmed the first case of COVID-19 in Minnesota.
- On Monday, March 9, the Legislature unanimously approved a $21 million appropriation for Minnesota’s public health response contingency account, and Governor Walz signed the bill into law Tuesday, March 10.
- On Wednesday, March 11, the Minnesota House announced additional COVID-19 preparedness legislation, including no/low-interest loans to providers, clinics, facilities, health systems; expanding eligibility for Unemployment Insurance and paid leave; compensating hourly school workers for COVID-related closures; banning price gouging of food and other household necessities; and reducing financial barriers for Minnesotans who need testing and treatment.
- On Friday, March 13, Governor Walz issued Executive Order 20-01 declaring a peacetime emergency in Minnesota and unveiled legislative proposals to prepare for the COVID-19 pandemic (largely similar to proposals introduced by the House). These actions came in conjunction with the Minnesota Department of Health announcing community mitigation strategies to limit the spread of the virus.
- 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.
Click here to find more information for each district:
Eastern Carver County Public Schools
Minnetonka Public Schools
Orono Public Schools
Westonka Public Schools
- On Monday, March 16, the four legislative leaders from both political parties and chambers announced major changes to public access and legislative operations at the State Capitol to protect Minnesotans’ health. Please be assured, legislators are continuing to work around the clock to respond to this crisis in a variety of ways, but we’re doing so in ways that ensure we are in compliance with public health guidelines.
- Monday evening, Governor Walz signed Executive Order 20-04 to order the temporary closure of Minnesota restaurants and bars to dine-in customers. He also ordered the temporary closure of other places of public accommodation and amusement, including theaters, museums, fitness centers, and community clubs effective tomorrow-Friday, March 27. Take-out and curbside pickup will still operate at most locations. The Governor is encouraging grocery stores and pharmacies to stay open so Minnesotans can still get the items they need.
- In an effort to support the many Minnesotans affected by these closures, the Governor also signed on Monday evening Executive Order 20-05 to strengthen Minnesota’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund and ensure that workers who are not able to work as a result of COVID-19 have benefits available. Specifically, this Executive Order will waive the employer surcharge and allow the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development to pay unemployment benefits immediately, providing fast relief to employees who need it.
- Early this morning, the Minnesota House of Representatives unanimously passed emergency COVID-19 health care funding, which provides $200 million in investments for a health care response fund and Minnesota’s public health response contingency account. This legislation will ensure Minnesotans can access the care they need and our providers are equipped to provide it.