Yesterday, Governor Walz announced he is extending the stay at home order until May 4. Click here for more information about what this means for you. Please continue doing your part to slow the spread of COVID-19. I know staying home isn’t easy, but it is allowing our state to continue key preparations and is ultimately saving lives.
Workers’ Compensation for First Responders and Health Care Workers
Our first responders and health care workers deserve to know that we have their backs as they put their health and safety on the line every day. On Tuesday, I voted in support of legislation to ensure nurses, firefighters, paramedics, police officers, long-term care workers, child care providers, and other frontline workers are covered by workers’ compensation if they contract COVID-19. The legislation establishes a presumption that if these workers contract COVID-19, they did so during their employment and are covered by workers’ comp. It passed with bipartisan support and was signed into law.
Unemployment Benefits Available
Many Minnesotans are experiencing economic hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) has received more applications for Unemployment Insurance benefits in the past three weeks than they did in all of 2019. To help smooth out the process, DEED is urging new applicants to apply online here on certain days based on the last digit of their social security number. This will help the agency process record numbers of applications and deliver the benefits workers are depending on quickly and effectively.
Self-employed and contract workers have been put in an especially difficult situation. As a result of federal legislation, unemployment benefits will soon be available to these workers for the first time. DEED is working with the U.S. Department of Labor to get a new system up and running so these payments can be made. In the meantime, DEED is accepting applications here, and a guide for self-employed and contract workers is available here.
Discrimination Helpline Now Open
Amid rising reports of discrimination against our Asian American community, Governor Walz and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights have launched a new Discrimination Helpline to help protect the civil rights of Minnesotans during the COVID-19 pandemic. Minnesotans who experience or witness bias or discrimination can report it by calling 1-833-454-0148 or completing an online form here.
Governor Walz’s State of the State Address
Governor Walz has displayed steady and thoughtful leadership throughout this public health crisis. On Sunday, he delivered his second State of the State address. This speech is usually given at the Capitol with legislators in attendance, but this year the Governor addressed Minnesotans from his home. During his address, Governor Walz highlighted several stories of folks helping one another – including the White Bear Lake hockey community. I encourage you to watch the speech here.
Helpful Information and Resources
Last week, Governor Walz created a new COVID-19 dashboard to track the spread of the virus and help Minnesotans find information and resources. It also provides information on available ventilators, ICU beds, personal protective equipment (PPE), and testing. The dashboard, which is updated daily, is available here.
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH)’s website, linked here, is still an excellent source of accurate and up-to-date information. I encourage you to check out MDH’s mental health resources, linked here, as well as those focused on physical health.
Thanks to everyone who joined the virtual town hall I held last Thursday! If you weren’t able to participate, a video is available here.
I’m extremely proud of the way our community has responded to this pandemic. While these times are difficult for all of us, I remain hopeful because they are also bringing out the best in Minnesotans. Please continue checking in with your family, friends, and neighbors and reach out to fellow Minnesotans who might need support, particularly those who are elderly, isolated, or ill. We will get through this together.
Thank you for the honor of serving you during these challenging times. Please keep in touch.