Responding to the impact of the coronavirus strain COVID-19 this past week became more urgent. Hundreds, and often thousands, of people visit the Capitol and Minnesota Senate Building every day. We must do all we can to keep visitors, staff, legislators and the rest of our community safe and healthy. While many of us were unable to meet in in person, know that I am always available by phone and email. I hope to be a resource in any way I can. Below I included an update from the legislature with resources you may find helpful.
New measures adopted at Legislature in response to COVID-19
Responding to the impact of the coronavirus strain COVID-19 this past week became more urgent at both the state level and at the Minnesota Legislature. Governor Walz has made several moves to promote social distancing to “flatten the curve” of the infection rate for the virus, including mandating that restaurants move to takeout- and delivery-only methods and bars be closed for the next two weeks.
Other social gathering spaces such as theaters, bowling alleys, and museums have also been closed. These decisions come as an effort to slow the spread of the infection, so the state’s health care infrastructure isn’t overwhelmed with too many cases at once. We remain committed to aiding those affected negatively by these closures and have helped pass economic support for workers tirelessly fighting this pandemic, as well as those experiencing economic hardships because of it.
The Legislature passed a bill this week to provide an additional $200 million for health care infrastructure and procedures during the response to COVID-19. The legislation was passed unanimously, showing our commitment to bipartisanship during this trying time for Minnesota.
Governor Walz has also signed executive orders in recent days, which will:
- Protect residents and staff in Veterans Homes by restricting all visitors and non-essential personnel except for end of life care.
- Exempt emergency relief efforts from certain regulations that restrict their ability to provide assistance, including limits on weight and hours of service. The Order allows for the efficient movement of essential supplies, including food, medical supplies, and household items.
- Provide paid leave for all state employees who are unable to work because of COVID-19.
Things will also be looking different in how business is done at the Legislature for the next several weeks. The Legislature is following the guidelines of the Minnesota Department of Health surrounding social distancing: six feet of distance is maintained between people, in-person meetings are being extremely limited, staff are encouraged to telecommute whenever possible, and senators are in recess, only returning to pass emergency COVID response legislation or legislation agreed upon by all legislative caucuses before heading to the floor.
Staying informed is essential, and if we continue to follow these guidelines, we can flatten the curve and ensure Minnesota continues to operate in response to this pandemic effectively and efficiently. The most up-to-date information on COVID-19 from the MDH can be found here.
The MN Department of Health has set up a COVID-19 public hotline that is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The hotline number is 651-201-3920.
A MN Department of Public Safety hotline taking questions regarding community mitigation problems, including school and business impacts, can be found here open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily: 651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903.
Unemployment Benefits: If a business you work for has reduced your hours or terminated your employment in response to the pandemic or for any reason that is no fault of your own, it is likely that you qualify for the unemployment insurance benefits. The agency is encouraging applicants to utilize their website as they are receiving a high volume of calls.
The application to apply is available at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development’s website
Small Business Assistance: The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development is recommending pandemic-impacted small businesses contact the Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster assistance customer service center at 1-800-659-2955 for the latest information on its Disaster Loan program. Small business guidance and loan resources can also be found on the SBA’s website
Starting soon businesses can apply for SBA low interest loans: We care deeply about your business and are actively working with state and federal partners on measures to assist businesses through this unprecedented time.
U.S. Small Business Administration loans available soon: One way Minnesota businesses may be able to get assistance is through low interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Governor Walz has requested an Economic Injury Disaster Loan declaration, clearing the way for businesses to apply for loans to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. If you have questions, please call the SBA hotline at 1-800-659-2955. We will share SBA loan application information as soon as it becomes available.