Governor Walz announced yesterday an extension of the current stay at home order through May 4 with some modifications. He shared data that highlights Minnesotans’ social distancing is working to slow the spread of COVID-19, but we need to continue buying time to increase capacity within our health care system, including hospital beds, personal protective equipment (PPE), and ventilators. If we don’t stay the course, it’s possible any progress we’ve made to this point could be lost and Minnesotans’ health and safety could be put in greater jeopardy. Here are some FAQs about the order.
On Wednesday, the House and Senate passed legislation strengthening workers’ compensation benefits for health care and public safety workers who contract COVID-19 in the line of duty. In particular, the bill provides a presumption that if these workers contract COVID-19, they did so during the course of their employment and are covered by workers’ comp. Yesterday, Governor Walz signed the bill into law.
Occupations covered by the presumption in the bill include firefighters, peace officers, paramedics, EMTs, health care workers, correctional officers, and child care providers who are caring for children of first responders and health care workers under the Governor’s executive orders. Our first responders and health care workers are putting themselves in harm’s way to keep Minnesotans safe and healthy. If these dedicated Minnesotans contract COVID-19, we need to have their backs.
The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act included a provision increasing unemployment insurance benefits an additional $600 per week. Minnesota is among the first states in the nation to process benefits with this increased amount. Displaced workers don’t need to take any additional steps to receive this $600. To apply for unemployment benefits, please visit www.uimn.org.
On Monday, Governor Walz issued an executive order suspending a requirement that delayed unemployment insurance benefits for workers using vacation, sick pay or personal time off. This will help more Minnesotans receive relief immediately. More information is available from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.
There have been increased reports of discrimination against Asian Americans across the country. Viruses don’t discriminate, and neither should we. In response, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights has established a new discrimination helpline to help protect the civil rights of Minnesotans during the COVID-19 pandemic. Minnesotans who experience or witness discrimination can now report it by calling 1-833-454-0148 or filling out an online form, linked here. During this crisis when everyone is struggling to some degree, I hope everyone can make an extra effort to be patient and kind to one another.
Holidays important to many people of faith are upon us, but it’s critically important to continue practicing social distancing. Many Minnesotans would typically be gathering with extended family and friends during this time of year, and I recognize how hard it can be to not spend precious time with important people in our lives. Still, avoiding gatherings is the best one of the best things we can do to stop the spread of the virus and keep our neighbors and loved ones safe.
Governor Walz has launched a COVID-19 dashboard with comprehensive data, information about actions to address the pandemic, and helpful resources for Minnesotans. The dashboard, which will be updated daily, includes information on available ventilators, ICU beds, personal protective equipment (PPE), testing, and more. This data will help drive decisions to address the economic and social impacts of COVID-19 in Minnesota. The Minnesota House website also has a COVID-19 section with the latest from the Legislature and links to helpful resources.
Please contact me if you have questions or if I can be of assistance in any way. Email me at email@example.com or call me at 651-296-4262. Please take care of yourself and your family.
Rep. Fue Lee