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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Ami Wazlawik (DFL)

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Legislative Update - Action on COVID-19

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Rep. Wazlawik

Dear neighbors,

We’re working around the clock to address the COVID-19 pandemic and help Minnesotans navigate the challenges it has created. Here’s a brief update on where things stand, including actions already taken by the Governor and the Legislature and information about what Minnesotans can do to help:


Emergency Funding for Hospitals, Clinics, and Other Health Care Facilities

On Monday night, we unanimously passed an emergency funding bill that will help hospitals, clinics, and other health care facilities prepare for and respond to an outbreak of COVID-19. We’re committed to ensuring Minnesotans can get the care they need.

This bill was part of a package of legislation that House DFLers proactively introduced last week. We’ll keep working on the other bills, which would help Minnesotans navigate this public health crisis by:

  • Requiring health plans to cover all costs of testing, treatment, and quarantine related to COVID-19.
  • Expanding unemployment insurance and paid sick leave benefits.
  • Compensating hourly school workers for days cancelled or missed due to COVID-19.
  • Banning price gouging of necessary goods and services.

School Closures

Over the weekend, Governor Walz announced that Minnesota schools will be temporarily closed so teachers and administrators can make long-term plans for the continuity of education and essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some decided to close earlier or longer than required, but all schools will be closed until Friday, March 27. During this time, schools will continue providing meals to students in need, mental health services, and care for elementary-age children of health care professionals, first responders, and other emergency workers to ensure Minnesota’s first line of defense against COVID-19 can stay on the job.

If you live in the White Bear Lake Area School District, click here for information about meals, child care, and other resources for students and their families. Click here to see similar information for Mounds View School District residents. If you live in the Mahtomedi School District, click here for information, and if you live in the Stillwater Area School District, click here.

If you have any questions, you can visit www.education.mn.gov or call a public hotline dedicated to schools and child care at 651-297-1304. The hotline is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.


Restaurants and Other Venues Close

On Tuesday, the Governor ordered the temporary closure of Minnesota restaurants and bars. While restaurants can no longer take dine-in customers, takeout and delivery are permitted. Other venues, such as community clubs, fitness centers, and movie theaters, were ordered to close as well. The Governor is encouraging grocery stores and pharmacies to stay open so Minnesotans can still get the items they need.

Ordering takeout or delivery is a great way to support our local businesses if you can! A map of some of the restaurants that are offering these services, including those in the White Bear area, is available here.


Support for Impacted Workers

In an effort to support the many Minnesotans affected by these closures, Governor Walz signed an Executive Order to strengthen Minnesota’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund and ensure that workers who aren’t able to work due to COVID-19 have benefits available. If your employment has been impacted by COVID-19, you can learn more about Minnesota’s Unemployment Insurance Program and apply online at uimn.org.

Additional information for workers and employers is available at www.mn.gov/deed. A public hotline is available at 661-259-7114 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.


What Minnesotans Can Do

We all have a part to play in keeping our neighbors and communities safe. Minnesotans should follow the guidelines provided by the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) in addition to taking basic precautions like washing your hands thoroughly, covering coughs and sneezes, and staying home if you’re feeling sick. The guidelines, which are listed here, include canceling gatherings and events, keeping a six-foot distance between yourself and others, and limiting nonessential travel.

Another way that individuals can help is to donate to local organizations that are helping community members access necessary items such as food for themselves and their families. The White Bear Area Emergency Food Shelf has seen an increase in families seeking their help. If you’re interested in contributing to the Food Shelf, you can donate online here.

You can visit www.health.state.mn or call MDH’s public hotline at 651-201-3920 for up-to-date and accurate information about COVID-19. The hotline is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.


Please take care of yourself and others! These next few weeks or months will be difficult for many of us, but we will get through this together if we all do our part. Let me know if you have any questions, or if I can ever be of assistance.

Sincerely,

Ami Wazlawik
State Representative

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