I hope you have been able to get outdoors and enjoy this early taste of spring! I was able to head out for a stroll along Nine Mile Creek in Bloomington on Sunday afternoon and the sound of running water was rejuvenating! Our days are getting brighter both literally and figuratively.
Minnesota was recently ranked 3rd in our ability to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine.This week, we reached an important milestone in our fight against COVID-19; 70% of Minnesotans 65 years of age and older have officially been vaccinated! We had initially hoped to reach this goal by the end of March, but thanks to an increased supply from the federal government we have been able to speed things up. As a result, the state will expand eligibility to the next two phases of Minnesotans at once, starting Wednesday. Providers have been directed to prioritize people in the first of these phases, which includes Minnesotans with specific underlying health conditions; food processing plant workers; and Minnesotans with rare conditions or disabilities that put them at higher risk of severe illness. Providers will then have the flexibility to provide available appointments to other eligible Minnesotans. You can stay up to date on our stats on the State’s Vaccine Dashboard.
More than 1.8 million Minnesotans will become eligible to receive a vaccine beginning this week including:
Next, folks with the following qualifications will be eligible, including:
Whether you’re eligible to get the vaccine in a few weeks or a few months, be sure to sign up for the state’s Vaccine Connector. I have been registered for a while and was notified on Friday night that I was eligible to make a reservation at the new Community Vaccination Center at the Mall of America. I was able to make a reservation and received my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on Saturday afternoon. At the time that I made my reservation, there were quite a few times to choose from and I was able to book my second dose at the same time. The MOA center is very well organized and the wait was minimal.
I was also invited to make a reservation at Hennepin Healthcare using MyChart, which tells me that they are now vaccinating their age 65 to 70 patients, though this may change now. All the major healthcare organizations have been vaccinating their senior patients, working down from 75+, to 70+ and, now, most of them are working on their 65+ populations. If you have patient relationships with more than one provider organization, make sure that your MyChart account is updated with each of them. Hennepin Healthcare is not my primary healthcare organization, but they were the first one to reach out to me.
Personal Care Attendants
In the Business Section of Sunday’s Star Tribune, there was an illuminating story by columnist Neal St Anthony about the Personal Care industry and its difficulty in attracting and retaining Personal Care Attendants (PCAs) to serve people with disabilities. One out of five Minnesota families are touched by disabilities and many of them rely on the services of a PCA to help with the care of a loved one. The jobs require training, hard work and dedication to the task. Many PCAs describe their work as a labor of love and grow deeply attached to the people they serve. However, the jobs do not offer pay commensurate with the difficulty of the work and so turnover is high (almost 50% per year at Opportunity Partners in our community). At any given time, many jobs go unfilled and people with serious disabilities can go months without the care they need. I was proud to have supported the pay increase described in St Anthony’s article. A majority of the funding for the PCA program comes from federal Medicaid dollars, but there is a significant state contribution, as well. The largest part of the state budget consists of health and human services programs, like this one, funded with a combination of state and federal dollars. This illustrates why it is so difficult to balance the state budget through cuts to “entitlement programs” like this one -- real people get hurt.
The state budget officials announced a new economic forecast, highlighting a turnaround in our state budget outlook. This is good news, but the fact remains too many Minnesotans are still struggling as a result of the health and economic impacts from the pandemic. Those who were already struggling before the pandemic have experienced even greater hardship over the past year. We need to come together to invest in what Minnesotans value most – like excellent public schools, health care, and support for small businesses and families – to ensure we can all pull through this crisis.
Keep in Touch
Now more than ever, please contact me anytime with questions, input, or ideas. Don’t hesitate to reach out if I can provide any assistance. Please follow me on my Facebook page for further updates and invite your friends and family to do so as well.
Thanks for the honor of representing you at the Capitol.
Representative, District 49B
Minnesota House of Representatives
515 State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55155