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COVID-19 Update #1: Taking Preemptive Action
These next few weeks will be trying times for many of us, but by following the advice of our health professionals and elected officials we will be able to get through this together. Minnesota leadership is taking the actions needed to slow the spread of COVID-19, and now each and every one of us must do our part in this collective effort to save lives.
Early yesterday morning the House moved to adjourn until April 14th, but not before we voted to set aside emergency funding for a COVID response. The House and Senate will meet in floor and committee sessions on an on-call basis through April 14. During this time period, the Legislature will only take up legislation on the House and Senate floors by agreement of the House DFL, House GOP, Senate DFL and Senate GOP caucus leaders.
Emergency COVID-19 investment in health care system
We stayed up past midnight on Monday, March 16, into Tuesday, March 17, to pass SF 4334, providing $200 million in investments for the health care response fund and Minnesota's public health response contingency account.
Above all we have a duty to provide our health care system with everything it needs to get us through this safely. The bill provides $150 million to the Minnesota Department of Health to make grants to eligible providers for costs related to managing COVID-19.
As a condition of accepting a grant, the provider must agree not to bill uninsured patients for the cost of COVID-19 screening, testing, or treatment. If a patient is out-of-network, the provider must agree to accept the median network rate as payment in full.
The additional $50 million is appropriated to the public health response contingency account, which allows MDH to make flexible payments throughout our healthcare system where needed.
On Sunday, March 15, Governor Walz signed Executive Order 20-02
, authorizing the temporary closure
of Minnesota K-12 public schools to students in order for school administrators and teachers to make long-term plans for the continuity of education and essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Schools will be closed to students by Wednesday, March 18 through Friday, March 27 to accommodate this planning between school staff, teachers, and administrators with guidance from the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH).
Executive Order 20-02 requires schools to provide care for elementary-age children of health care professionals, first responders, and other emergency workers during previously planned school days to ensure Minnesota's first line of defense against COVID-19 can stay on the job.
It also makes provisions for the continuity of mental health services and requires schools to continue providing meals to students in need. You can watch the full statements of Gov. Walz and the Department of Education Commissioner Ricker here
Governor signs orders temporarily closing certain public spaces & improving Minnesota's unemployment insurance
Late Monday, Gov. Walz signed Executive Order 20-04
to order the temporary closure of Minnesota restaurants and bars to dine-in customers. He also ordered the temporary closure of other places of public accommodation and amusement, including theaters, museums, fitness centers, and community clubs. Take-out and drive-thru options are still available.
Gov. Walz also signed Executive Order 20-05
to strengthen Minnesota's Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund and ensure that workers who are not able to work as a result of COVID-19 have benefits available. Specifically, this Executive Order will waive the employer surcharge and allow the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development to pay unemployment benefits immediately, providing fast relief to employees who need it. If your employment has been affected by COVID-19 please visit this site
. Any other questions should be directed at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development at 651-259-7114, 800-657-3858 or www.mn.gov/deed
Help prevent the spread
One term we should all get more familiar with is “social distancing.” This is the practice of intentional isolation to reduce the overall level of contact between people and thus reduce opportunities for COVID-19 to spread. What this means for you and me is avoid attending events with 50 or more people, avoid going to crowded spaces, when you must go out in public do your best to stay at least 6 feet away from others. It is also encouraged to work from home if at all possible. You can read about other strategies to slow the spread of COVID-19 at the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) website
. The more we isolate ourselves now the sooner we will be able to return to normalcy.
MDH has set up a public hotline that will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. The hotline number is 651-201-3920. You can also visit www.health.state.mn.us
for up-to-date and accurate information about what Minnesota is doing to prepare for and stop the spread of COVID-19.
Additional Important Information
Stay in Touch
- For any child care question please reach out to the Minnesota Department of Education School and child care questions: Call 651-297-1304 or 1-800-657-3504 (7am-7pm daily) Visit www.education.mn.gov. Child care providers can visit the Minnesota department of Health for more info, here.
- Here is a list of various other resources that may be of help to you. Keep in mind that as we move forward some of this information may change. I will do my best to keep you updated.
Please feel free to reach out to me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
or by phone at 651-296-3533. If you have a friend, neighbor, or relative who wants to receive updates about the Legislature, let them know they can subscribe to my email list here. It's an honor to represent our community. Please stay in touch.
Minnesota House District 51A