Yesterday, Governor Walz announced that Minnesota has made a significant breakthrough in the fight against COVID-19. Thanks to a partnership with Mayo Clinic, the University of Minnesota, and other health care providers, our state will have the capacity to test as many as 20,000 people per day. That means every Minnesotan with COVID-19 symptoms will be able to get tested.
Rapid, widespread testing will help us build a better picture of how COVID-19 is impacting our state. This is a vital step towards better controlling the virus and safely reopening our economy. You can read more about it here.
Takeout Beer and Wine
Last Friday, my colleagues and I passed a bill that allows restaurants to sell beer and wine with takeout orders during the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re finding ways to get our economy up and running while keeping people safe, and this was a good first step. You can find more information about this bill here.
Many restaurants and bars are experiencing significant hardship as a result of COVID-19. You can support local businesses by ordering takeout food, beer, and wine or purchasing gift cards. A list of places that are open for takeout and delivery is available here.
Outdoor Recreation during COVID-19
Governor Walz recently issued an executive order to ensure Minnesotans can continue golfing, boating, fishing, hunting, hiking, and spending time outdoors during the pandemic. As a result, public and private parks and trails, golf courses and driving ranges, bait shops, outdoor shooting ranges, and boating and off-highway vehicle services will remain open. However, the governor cautions people to stay close to home, avoid crowded areas, and maintain a six-foot distance from others while outdoors. You can read the executive order here.
Extended Unemployment Benefits
Minnesota was one of the first states in the nation to implement the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program, which provides a 13-week extension of Unemployment Insurance benefits for eligible workers. If you’ve exhausted or will soon exhaust your unemployment benefits, you can find step-by-step instructions to apply for the extended benefits here or within your online account.
Ramsey County Property Taxes
On Tuesday, the Ramsey County Board unanimously voted to remove penalties on property tax payments made up to two months past the May 15 deadline for qualifying homeowners and small business owners. That means that residents and businesses with taxes of $50,000 or less can delay payments until July 15 without fines or interest. Small landlords with residential non-homesteads with up to three units and taxes of $20,000 or less are also eligible for deferred payments. Those who escrow their taxes aren’t eligible. A tool to help you determine if your property qualifies is available here.
Statewide Mask Drive
Last week, Governor Walz launched a week-long homemade mask drive. He encouraged Minnesotans to make homemade masks and deliver them to their local fire department on Saturday, April 25 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Fire departments will deliver the masks to local congregate living facilities.
Homemade masks don’t replace personal protective equipment (PPE), but they help limit the spread of the virus. If you’d like to participate in the mask drive, patterns and instructions are available here.
I’ll keep you updated with more information as it becomes available. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions, feedback, or suggestions.