Yesterday, Governor Tim Walz announced a plan to temporarily close schools from March 18 through March 27 so educators can plan long-term for continuity of education and services. The Governor’s Executive Order also requires schools to provide care for elementary-age children of health care professionals, first responders, and other emergency workers to ensure those in the first line of defense against COVID-19 can stay on the job. Schools will continue providing meals to students in need and ensure continuity of mental health services. I am in communication with the Mounds View School District regarding any assistance our community needs from the State. There is a state hotline specific for school and child care questions at 651-297-1304. Our school district website is www.moundsviewschools.org.
Friday, Gov. Walz declared a peacetime state of emergency, and along with Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Health Jan Malcolm, announced community mitigation recommendations: cancel large events in excess of 250 people gathered together, ensure space for social distancing of 6 feet per person at smaller events, and limit gatherings with participants at high risk for severe disease to less than 10 people. We can all do our part to prevent the spread of this disease by staying home when sick, washing hands thoroughly with soap and water for 20 seconds, and covering coughs and sneezes with a sleeve or tissue. Please remember that while many people who contract COVID-19 will recover successfully, people with underlying health conditions and the elderly are the most at risk. By following the guidelines above, you are helping to save lives and to keep our health care providers and facilities from becoming overwhelmed.
MDH’s website has comprehensive information and a hotline available from 7am to 7pm daily 651-201-3920 staffed by public health professionals. Information is also available in several languages including Spanish, Somali, and Hmong. If you have questions about unemployment insurance benefits, the Department of Employment and Economic Development has information for workers and employers here.
Lawmakers are working on legislation to further address COVID-19, including the following: requiring health plans to cover testing, treatment, and quarantine without cost-sharing; expanding unemployment insurance and sick leave benefits during an outbreak; compensating hourly school workers for cancellations; banning price gouging of necessary good and services; and more. As you may have heard, legislative leaders announced operations will reduce to an “on-call” basis and will return to the Capitol when needed to address COVID-19.
Also, as a reminder, my scheduled “Chat with Kelly” this coming Sunday has been cancelled. As always, constituents can reach me at Rep.Kelly.Moller@house.mn. I’m thankful for the leadership in our state, and I know that Minnesotans will work together to help each other through this challenging time.