On Wednesday, Governor Walz and leaders from Mayo Clinic, the University of Minnesota, Hennepin Healthcare, and other health care providers announced a plan to dramatically increase COVID-19 testing. Thanks to this new partnership, our state will be able to test everyone with COVID-19 symptoms (as many as 20,000 Minnesotans per day), isolate confirmed cases, and expand public health surveillance tools.
Rapid, widespread testing will help us build a better picture of how COVID-19 is impacting Minnesota. It’s a vital step towards better controlling the virus and safely reopening our society. You can read more about the testing breakthrough here.
Extended Distance Learning
Yesterday, Governor Walz announced that distance learning will continue until the end of the school year. Distance learning has created new challenges for Minnesota children, teachers, and families, and I know it’s particularly difficult for students who are missing their classmates and important events. My colleagues and I will continue advocating to improve the current system and better support students.
First Step to Safely Reopen Businesses
The Governor also shared a plan to reopen certain office, industrial, and manufacturing workplaces, allowing up to 100,000 Minnesotans to return to work next week. Businesses will need to create a COVID-19 Preparedness Plan and meet certain criteria in order to reopen. More details are available here.
Legislation We’re Working On
Legislators are working closely with Governor Walz and doing all we can to help Minnesotans during this difficult time and into the future. Here are a few of the things we’re fighting for:
- Ensuring full pay for hourly school employees
- Investing in housing assistance for struggling Minnesotans so they can remain safe in their homes
- Defending democracy and helping Minnesotans vote safely by expanding mail-in voting options
- Using available federal funding to boost payments for low-income working Minnesotans in the Minnesota Family Investment Program
- Keeping people connected by ensuring all Minnesotans have access to the broadband
- Keeping Minnesotans safe by expanding COVID-19 testing and treatment
If you’d like to stay updated on our progress, you can find audio and video recordings of remote hearings and floor sessions on the House website, YouTube, and Facebook. House Public Information Services is also a great nonpartisan source for legislative news.
Earth Day Conversation with Vice President Mondale
Wednesday was the 50th anniversary of Earth Day! Earlier in the week, I had the chance to interview former Vice President Walter Mondale with two of my colleagues. Vice President Mondale was serving as a U.S. Senator when Congress established this holiday and spoke before thousands gathered at the University of Minnesota to celebrate the first-ever Earth Day in 1970. You can listen to our conversation about this transformative moment here.
Statewide Mask Drive
Governor Walz recently launched a week-long homemade mask drive. He encouraged Minnesotans to make homemade masks and deliver them to a local fire department. Fire departments will collect masks on Saturday, April 25 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and deliver them to congregate living facilities.
Homemade masks don’t replace personal protective equipment (PPE), but they can help limit the spread of the virus. If you’d like to participate in the mask drive, patterns and instructions are available here.
Volunteer opportunities have changed due to public health guidelines, but volunteers are still needed to help in all kinds of ways. The India Association of Minnesota (IAM), for example, has created a COVID-19 Task Force that has served food or delivered groceries to 1,000 people, made and distributed 1,000 face masks, and organized four virtual events. You can learn more about the task force here. If you’d like to get help or volunteer, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 612-405-6135. Click here to find additional volunteer opportunities.
It’s an honor to serve you in the Minnesota Legislature. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have questions, feedback, or suggestions.