COVID-19 has presented a challenging time for all of us, and this situation will continue to evolve over the coming days and weeks. Many folks are experiencing significant economic hardship due to no fault of their own. If you’re able, I encourage you to contribute to a charitable cause, and the United Way of Northeast Minnesota has set up a COVID-19 crisis fund. During the pandemic, blood donations are also needed, and if you’re able, I encourage you to give.
Legislature Approves COVID-19 Aid Package
Thursday, the Minnesota House and Senate both approved a COVID-19 aid package to help workers, small businesses, childcare providers, and other Minnesotans as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Lawmakers came together in a bipartisan way to quickly enact solutions that will help our state respond to the health and economic consequences of this pandemic.
The bill creates a new $200 million COVID-19 Fund in the state treasury to enable state agencies to respond to COVID-19 related challenges. It also included $9 million to the Department of Human Services for food security, $26.5 million for grants to provide shelter for Minnesota’s homeless population, $30 million in one-time grants to child care providers, $10 million for small business loans, financial relief for displaced workers, and the necessary flexibility for state agencies to respond to the pandemic.
Legislators will keep working with Governor Walz and public health officials to protect Minnesotans’ health and safety. This work includes measures to ensure first responders are able to access workers’ compensation benefits if they become afflicted with COVID-19, hourly school workers still receive pay, temporary changes requested by the judiciary branch, and economic security for all Minnesotans during the pandemic and well into the future.
A summary of the bill is available here.
Stay at Home
Last night at 11:59 p.m., a Stay at Home order went into effect for two weeks in order to help slow the spread of COVID-19 throughout the state. To be clear, you can still go to the grocery store to get food, go to medical appointments, and get outside to exercise, but during this time, folks are asked to avoid travel unless it’s absolutely necessary. Many services and industries are classified as essential, including iron ore mining and processing. You can read the executive order, which has a list of essential services, here. A list of Frequently Asked Questions is also available.
When the Governor announced this action earlier this week, he shared modeling from the Department of Health and the U of M that shows how serious this situation is. In short, Minnesota has a low number of ICU beds: 235. Sixty percent of our rural counties don’t have any of these beds, and buying time to increase this capacity will be critical toward overcoming this pandemic. Please take this order seriously, and continue to practice social distancing.
I encourage you to visit the Minnesota Department of Health’s COVID-19 section of its website for accurate, up-to-date information. Help is available for businesses and workers, and the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development has resources, including unemployment insurance and small business loans. If I can be of help in any way, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call my office at 651-296-0170. I’m also on Facebook, and I invite you to “like” or “follow” my page.
While it’s important for us to be physically apart, please be there for your family, friends, and neighbors. Pick up the phone and check in on people close to you, especially those who are elderly or vulnerable. We will get through these tough times together as Minnesotans.
It’s an honor to represent you at the Capitol.