This week, Governor Tim Walz announced a major breakthrough in our efforts to increase COVID-19 testing capacity. Under a new strategy implemented in cooperation with Mayo Clinic, the University of Minnesota, Hennepin Healthcare, and other health care providers, we will be able to test as many as 20,000 symptomatic Minnesotans per day. The strategy, funded in part by $36 million from the COVID-19 Minnesota Fund provided by the Legislature, will enable us to better identify outbreak “hotspots,” expand testing within vulnerable populations, and improve overall surveillance of the condition with the state.
A new COVID-19 website provides easy access to Minnesotans’ closest testing site, offers general information related to the COVID-19 outbreak, and provides an interactive screening tool to help Minnesotans determine if they need a test. Yesterday, the House Health and Human Services Finance Division held an overview of the testing plan and you can watch video of the hearing here.
Minnesotans’ commitment to social distancing is working to slow the spread of COVID-19. While it’s been extremely difficult for all of us, it’s saving lives. I know many Minnesotans are anxious to get back to normal as soon as possible, but it’s critically important that we proceed cautiously, and not risk a setback on our progress to contain the disease.
Governor Walz has announced that steps are underway to reopen some businesses in non-critical sectors starting Monday. This will be a gradual process, starting with workers in non-customer facing industrial and office-based businesses who aren’t able to telework. As testing and health care capacity increases, and positive cases can be isolated, we can continue “turning the dials” to reopen more businesses. More information about this process is available here.
Workers, businesses, and public health experts will all have to be at the table as decisions are made to ensure Minnesotans can remain safe and healthy. The Department of Employment and Economic Development has created a template plan for employers to use if they wish as they implement procedures ensuring compliance with state and CDC guidelines.
Today, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) began making Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) payments for self-employed, contract, and other workers who were not previously eligible for regular unemployment benefits.
Here’s what Minnesotans need to know about applying for PUA:
Additional information, including answers to many commonly asked questions, can be found here: COVID-19 information for self-employed people and independent contractors
The Ramsey County Board of Commissioners approved a measure removing late fee penalties on property tax payments for some owners facing financial hardships due to COVID-19. Payments can be made until July 15 with no late fee penalties. These are challenging economic times, and this action will give some help to those financially impacted by COVID-19. For more information, including eligibility guidelines, visit the Ramsey County Property Tax webpage.
Ramsey County has announced Hodgson Road will be reconstructed from Gramsie Road/Rice Street to Highway 96 in Shoreview starting in 2022. Information, including the project timeline and proposed design layouts, is available here. The county is also working to gather input about the project, and a survey is available until May 8.
Continue to visit the state’s COVID-19 Dashboard for the latest accurate, up-to-date information about the pandemic as well as our state’s response. Also, the Minnesota House website’s COVID-19 section has information about legislative actions to date, as well as links to helpful resources. If I can be helpful, please call me at 651-296-0141 or email me. Also, if you don’t already, I invite you to “like” or “follow” my Facebook page.
Please take care of yourself and your family, and let’s all keep taking all the responsible steps to move past this pandemic.