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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Shane Mekeland (R)

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Legislative update

Friday, April 24, 2020

Dear Neighbor,

Here is another round of COVID-19-related notes on a variety of subjects. Before we get into those, I want to thank the people of our district for all their efforts to lend a hand to those in need. I also have been working day and night trying to help people figure out solutions to issues they are facing. It is good we have some positivity to report this week regarding this challenge, including a number of people soon getting back to work and a new collaboration to seriously increase testing for the virus. Here is more:

Some workers returning

The governor on Thursday signed a new executive order to allow businesses in manufacturing, industrial, and office settings that are non-customer facing to reopen. This order could help as many as 100,000 Minnesotans return to work starting on Monday. Businesses must create and share a safety plan for keeping employees safe, conduct daily health screenings of employees upon their arrival, and continue teleworking whenever possible.This link has more info on the guidelines, along with details on what businesses are allowed to return to work, so please check that out if you have questions. The Department of Labor and Industry will have an optional template plan available to use as a start point. Also, the Department of Employment and Economic Development will be hosting two webinars to discuss this process. More information on the webinars can be found here

While this news is encouraging for thousands of businesses who have been waiting to safely reopen they doors, I know many are still frustrated and uncertain about the days and weeks ahead, and wondering when they will be able to do the same. My hope is that yesterday's announcement is a path forward so we can get our economy moving again and help Minnesotans return to work safely. We will continue working with the Walz administration to help reopen as many businesses as possible, and do it in a way that protects the health and safety of employees and our communities. 

COVID-19 testing to ramp up

We also received good news on Wednesday, with the announcement of a new partnership to significantly ramp up COVID-19 testing capacity. The governor did not indicate an exact date when we can expect to see that capacity reached, but suggested we should start to see an increase shortly. Here are some quick details:

  • A new partnership with Mayo Clinic and University of Minnesota, funded by the COVID-19 Minnesota fund, will establish capacity to deliver 20,000 molecular and 15,000 serology tests per day. This will allow testing of all symptomatic people, and in turn we can isolate and trace contacts for positive cases. 
  • The partnership will help collect data to identify hotspots, conduct further research into how best to treat and prevent COVID-19.

This could be a big help in helping our state re-open in a safe, effective manner so we can continue to protect people as workers get back on the job. Please understand this is a major logistical undertaking so, while this is good news, it still will require some time for us to get our system up to speed to handle this volume so we can incrementally re-open Minnesota.

Resorts can be open for business

There has been much uncertainty and even some misinformation regarding how the governor’s executive orders on COVID-19 impact Minnesota’s resorts, a major industry in this part of the state. We have received clarification that resorts never were closed under the governor’s orders and here is the most up to date and accurate guidance we have received:

  • The hotel portions of resorts (including rented cabins) can open as planned and can accept guests.
  • Guests do not have to be members of a critical sector to stay at a resort.
  • Communal amenities may not be open for use.
  • While resorts can accept visitors, the Stay at Home Order continues to discourage unnecessary travel, and the Order asks people to remain close to their homes.
  • Resorts do not have to open if they are not comfortable doing so. 

Maintenance and cleaning staff can begin work now to prepare for the season. Of course, health and safety of employees and guests should remain a priority throughout the season, so please do your part.

Campgrounds and RV resorts are open, with caveats, so click here for a rundown of that information.

Resource for farmers

Farmers looking for information to help navigate the COVID-19 outbreak are encouraged to check out a Minnesota Department of Agriculture website as a resource. One thing we are hearing more and more about lately is questions from livestock owners who need meat processing for a relatively small number of animals but are running into roadblocks due to plant closures and lost markets. The website addresses that issue and provides helpful guidance on that subject and also covers issues from mental health to financial support and beyond, so I hope farmers will check it out.

I will be back with more news soon. The House has another floor session scheduled for Tuesday, so we will see what comes to the floor for discussion that day. Until next time, I wish you and your family the best. Stay healthy, be safe and let me know if you need anything.



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