The House approved additional funding to combat the COVID-19 pandemic early this morning and then went into on-call mode at least until April 14 amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
The bill we passed funds the Public Health Response Contingency Account for use by providers, ambulance services, health care clinics, hospitals, and long term care facilities. It also allocates dollars for the newly-created Health Care Response Fund for grants to providers for costs necessary for COVID-19 response. Taxpayer protection is included for oversight and accountability; any unspent dollars go back to the state’s general fund.
I want to be clear that, even though our daily operations are a bit different for at least the immediate future, I will very much continue working on behalf of the residents of District 15B.
At the same time, it is our responsibility as legislators to adapt to the current situation. Alternate means of conducting our work will allow the House to respond to the needs of Minnesotans, while also fully complying with Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) guidelines including social distancing, limiting large gatherings, telework, and increased cleaning measures necessitated by COVID-19.
MDH hotlines are available to assist Minnesotans, including a public line (651) 201-3920 and a line for questions specifically related to schools and/or childcare (651) 297-1304. Several online resources also are available to help individuals stay up to date:
- MDH’s COVID-19 page
- Mayo Clinic’s COVID-19 page
- CDC COVID-19 page
On another note, COVID-19 is causing challenges for workers and business owners. An executive order was issued to ensure workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic have full access to unemployment benefits. The order eliminates the one-week waiting period to ensure applicants have access to unemployment benefits as quickly as possible, and assures business owners that benefits paid as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic will not increase their future unemployment tax rate.
If your employment has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the department urges you to apply for unemployment benefits online. Visit the Unemployment Insurance Program website at www.uimn.org to learn more.
Please let me know if there is anything I can do to help and I will be back with any further developments at the state level. In the meantime, please do your part to be safe as we try to minimize the spread of COVID-19.