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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Hunter Cantrell (DFL)

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Important COVID-19 Updates

Friday, June 05, 2020

Dear Neighbors,

Here is an important update from the Governor:

Governor Walz announced Phase III of the Stay Safe MN plan, including a gradual turn of the dial to allow cautious and safe re-opening of indoor dining, gyms, and entertainment venues beginning Wednesday, June 10, 2020. Customers and employees will be either strongly recommended or required to wear masks and will be required to adhere to appropriate social distancing measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Here is a full list of what will be allowed to open and at what capacity:

  • Restaurants can begin offering indoor dining while maintaining social distancing, requiring reservations, and seating no more than 50 percent occupancy.
  • Indoor social gatherings can take place with 10 people or less; outdoor social gatherings can take place with 25 people or less.
  • Gyms, personal fitness and yoga studios, and martial arts studios may open at 25 percent capacity.
  • Indoor entertainment venues, such as theaters and concert halls, can open at 25 percent capacity.
  • Recreational indoor entertainment venues, such as bowling alleys, arcades, and museums may open at 25 percent capacity.
  • Personal services, such as salons, tattoo parlors, and barbershops, may increase occupancy rates to 50 percent while requiring reservations.
  • Outdoor entertainment venues, such as sporting events, concerts, and theaters may open at 25 percent capacity.
  • Places of worship can increase occupancy rates to 50 percent.

Turning Dials  - June 5th

Reducing racial disparities in the spread of COVID-19

COVID-19 has underscored and widened disparities in health equity within black, brown, and indigenous communities as a result of the impact of systemic racism within Minnesota. Black and Latinx Minnesotans have respectively tested positive for COVID-19 at a rate four and three times higher than white Minnesotans. In working to address these health disparities in our state, the MN Dept. of Human Rights is working to eliminate barriers to accessing testing within black, brown, indigenous, immigrant, and refugee communities in Minnesota.

Plan to Keep Residents of Long-Term Care Facilities Safe

This morning, I attended an virtual interim hearing of the MN House Health and Human Services Finance Division in which we had the opportunity to hear directly from the Commissioner of the MN Dept. of Health, Jan Malcolm, Director of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention, and Control Division at MDH, Kris Ehresmann, and other experts on geriatric care about Minnesota's strategy for keeping residents of long term care facilities, and staff at these facilities, safe.

A few important points from the meeting: MDH has been hosting weekly webinars for all long term care (LTC) facilities in the state to discuss response and prevention strategy. A few weeks ago, the Governor released his 5 point plan to prevent disease spread and expand testing capacity in LTC facilities. To date, the state is still making progress in these five areas outlined in the Governor's plan: 

  • expanding testing for residents and staff at LTC facilities, 
  • supporting the processing, and streamlining the billing, of testing services in LTC settings, 
  • assisting LTC facilities in obtaining personal protective equipment (the state's emergency PPE supply warehouse is meant to supplement the supply chains of all healthcare facilities--which are in charge of obtaining their own PPE supplies), 
  • ensure adequate staffing levels at LTC facilities, and helping to meet unfilled staff needs, 
  • and leveraging partnerships across the healthcare industry continuum to support the needs of LTC facilities.

Some constituents have raised concerns over elderly Minnesotans with COVID-19 returning to LTC facilities after hospital discharge. No contact tracing investigations have shown any outbreaks in LTC facilities to be linked to patients returning from the hospital--these outbreaks likely originate from asymptomatic transmission from staff. Additionally, CMS regulations say that nursing homes can accept a resident who has been treated for COVID-19 if the facility meets CDC guidelines for safely isolating that individual from the broader community within the facility. MDH does not have the authority to interfere with a patient's right to choose where they desire to go after being discharged from the hospital.

It is critical that geriatric patients receive the right care for them. Every day that they spend in a hospital beyond the time necessary to stabilize them can prolong recovery and increase the likelihood of adverse health outcomes. We must continue to ensure that staff and patients in long term care facilities are safe during this pandemic and beyond.

Current trends in laboratory confirmed cases indicate that Minnesota may be nearing a plateau in the number of new COVID-19 cases. However, it is anticipated that with the easing of business/venue restrictions, in conjunction with large protests, that it is likely that case numbers will rise in the coming weeks. If you think you may have been exposed to COVID-19, **regardless of whether or not you have symptoms PER STATE GUIDELINES**, you can find a testing facility near you through this link.

Now is a time at which we must exercise caution and continue to abide by the social distancing guidelines as we proceed to make gradual and steady progress towards safely reopening Minnesota. This progress can quickly be erased if we are not careful in how we, collectively as Minnesotans, move forward.

 

As always, I am here to listen to your concerns and assist you in any way I am able. Please stay healthy, and please stay safe.

Keep in Touch

Please contact me anytime with questions, input, or ideas. You can reach me on my Facebook page, by phone at 651-296-4212, or by email (preferred and quickest response) at  rep.hunter.cantrell@house.mn. Don’t hesitate to reach out if I can provide any assistance!

Sincerely,

Hunter Cantrell

Your Neighbor and State Representative

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