Quote of the Week: “This is unchartered territory,” Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-East Gull Lake)
COVID-19 Hits Minnesota
The coronavirus has hit Minnesota and Governor Walz and the Legislature have quickly responded. The Governor has issued multiple Executive Orders declaring a peacetime emergency, shutting down K-12 schools, closing bars, restaurants and other public spaces and barring all nonessentinal surgeries and dental procedures.
The Legislature on Tuesday passed a $200 million financial package to help health care providers respond to the pandemic. HF3980 (Liebling, DFL-Rochester) creates two funding pools:
• $50 million under the State’s public health response contingency account; and
• $150 million to create a health care response fund in the state treasury, which would be used to make grants. Any money left over on Feb. 1, 2021 would be returned to the General Fund and the section would sunset on June 30, 2022.
Both pools are available to health care providers including hospitals, clinics, pharmacies, nursing facilities, health care facilities, ambulance services and settings in which assisted living services or health care services are provided. The funds could be used to help plan, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19.
The four caucus leaders held a press conference last week to announce how the Legislature will conduct business in the coming weeks in light of the COVID-19 virus. Bills will be passed only under three conditions:
• They address the COVID-19 virus;
• They address a top priority of the State, like the bonding bill, or
• They are a consensus issue that all four caucuses support.
The Legislature has not recessed or adjourned, but no hearings or floor sessions are currently scheduled. The Legislature is expected to be in this partial shutdown mode until Tuesday, April 14, when it was originally scheduled to return from a one week Passover/Easter break.
More information about COVID-19 is available on the Department of Health website. A hotline is available at 651-201-3920 or 800-657-3903.