My colleagues and I are working around the clock with the Governor and public health officials to respond to challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a rapidly evolving situation, so please stay tuned.
Over the weekend, Governor Walz announced that Minnesota schools will be temporarily closed so school administrators and teachers can make long-term plans for the continuity of education and essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools will be closed from Wednesday, March 18 through Friday, March 27, though most of the schools in our area decided to close earlier. During this time, schools will continue providing meals to students in need, mental health services, and care for elementary-age children of health care professionals, first responders, and other emergency workers to ensure Minnesota’s first line of defense against COVID-19 can stay on the job. If you have any questions about school and child care, you can visit www.education.mn.gov or call a state hotline at 651-297-1304.
Yesterday, Governor Walz ordered the temporary closure of Minnesota restaurants and bars. Starting today at 5 p.m., dine-in customers will not be permitted. Takeout and curbside pickup will still be available at many places. Other venues, such as gyms, movie theaters, and museums, will close as well. The Governor is encouraging grocery stores and pharmacies to stay open so Minnesotans can still get the items they need.
In an effort to support the many Minnesotans affected by these closures, the Governor signed an Executive Order to strengthen Minnesota’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund and ensure that workers who aren’t able to work as a result of COVID-19 have benefits available. Workers and employers with questions or concerns can visit www.mn.gov/deed for more information or call a state hotline at 661-259-7114.
Late last night, we passed an emergency funding package to help our health care system address COVID-19 and ensure Minnesotans get the health care they need during this uncertain time. We’re working on a package of legislation to further address COVID-19 and support Minnesotans, including bills that would:
Legislators are poised to pass necessary legislation as quickly as possible. Although we’re continuing our work, we’ve made several changes to protect the health of members, staff, and our constituents. We’re following social distancing guidelines by maintaining a six foot space between all members in committee hearings, on the House floor, and elsewhere. I encourage you to do the same!
As I mentioned in my last email, you can find up-to-date and accurate information about COVID-19 at www.health.state.mn.us. Click here to view the website in English, here for Spanish, here for Somali, and here for Hmong. You can also call the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH)’s public hotline at 651-201-3920. The hours have been extended from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions or concerns. While the next few days and weeks will be difficult, I’m confident we can get through them together. Remember to be kind and take care of one another.