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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Dean Urdahl (R)

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Legislative update

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Dear Neighbor,

I hope you and your family are staying safe and remain in good health as we continue to work to combat COVID-19. Some positive developments are occurring regarding some people getting back to work and a new testing for the virus, giving us a glimmer of optimism as we continue looking to safely re-open Minnesota. Here is an update on those and some other items:

Some workers returning

Today, the governor signed a new executive order to allow businesses in manufacturing, industrial, and office settings that are non-customer facing to reopen. This order could help as many as 100,000 Minnesotans return to work starting on Monday. Businesses must create and share a safety plan for keeping employees safe, conduct daily health screenings of employees upon their arrival, and continue teleworking whenever possible.This link has more info on the guidelines, along with details on what businesses are allowed to return to work, so please check that out if you have questions. 

While this news is encouraging for thousands of businesses who have been waiting to safely reopen they doors, I know many are still frustrated and uncertain about the days and weeks ahead, and wondering when they will be able to do the same. My hope is that today's announcement is a path forward so we can get our economy moving again and help Minnesotans return to work safely. We will continue working with the Walz administration to help reopen as many businesses as possible, and do it in a way that protects the health and safety of employees and our communities. 

COVID-19 testing to ramp up

We also received good news this week regarding efforts to combat the COVID-19 outbreak, with the announcement of a new partnership to significantly ramp up testing capacity. The governor did not indicate an exact date when we can expect to see that capacity reached, but suggested we should start to see an increase shortly. Here are some quick details:

  • A new partnership with Mayo Clinic and University of Minnesota, funded by the COVID-19 Minnesota fund, will establish capacity to deliver 20,000 molecular and 15,000 serology tests per day. This will allow testing of all symptomatic people, and in turn we can isolate and trace contacts for positive cases. 
  • The partnership will help collect data to identify hotspots, conduct further research into how best to treat and prevent COVID-19.

This breakthrough could be a big help in helping our state re-open in a safe, effective manner so we can continue to protect people as workers get back on the job. Please understand this is a major logistical undertaking so, while this is good news, it still will require some time for us to get our system up to speed to handle this volume so we can incrementally re-open Minnesota.

Resorts can be open for business

There has been much uncertainty and even some misinformation regarding how the governor’s executive orders on COVID-19 impact Minnesota’s resorts, a major industry in this part of the state. We have received clarification that resorts never were closed under the governor’s orders and here is the most up to date and accurate guidance we have received:

  • The hotel portions of resorts (including rented cabins) can open as planned and can accept guests.
  • Guests do not have to be members of a critical sector to stay at a resort.
  • Communal amenities may not be open for use.
  • While resorts can accept visitors, the Stay at Home Order continues to discourage unnecessary travel, and the Order asks people to remain close to their homes.
  • Resorts do not have to open if they are not comfortable doing so. 

Maintenance and cleaning staff can begin work now to prepare for the season. Of course, health and safety of employees and guests should remain a priority throughout the season, so please do your part.

Campgrounds and RV resorts are open, with caveats, so click here for a rundown of that information.

Resource for farmers

It seems as though things are in a constant state of change during the COVID-19 outbreak and that makes it difficult to keep track of the latest information. 

Farmers looking for information to help navigate the COVID-19 outbreak are encouraged to check out a Minnesota Department of Agriculture website as a resource. One thing we are hearing more and more about lately is questions from livestock owners who need meat processing for a relatively small number of animals but are running into roadblocks due to plant closures and lost markets. The website addresses that issue and provides helpful guidance on that subject and also covers issues from mental health to financial support and beyond, so I hope farmers will check it out.

Stay tuned for more soon. Another House session is scheduled for Tuesday, so there may be some news to report regarding bills that make their way to the floor for votes. Until next time, let me know how I can help.