Minnesota Enters New Stage in Coronavirus Response

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Early this morning, the Minnesota Legislature passed legislation to provide an additional $200 million in funding to ensure Minnesota has the resources it needs to remain strong both during and after the COVID-19 epidemic. 

$150 million of these funds will go to the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and a new health care response fund to make sure Minnesota’s health care providers can respond to this virus with more treatment beds, testing sites, and the increase and protection of staff. The remaining $50 million will go towards a contingency account that can be used for costs needed on an emergency basis to prepare and respond to COVID-19 or similar public health emergencies.

Additionally, a resolution was passed allowing the House and Senate to adjourn for more than three days. This was a necessary procedural matter that will allow lawmakers to continue to restructure work in the House and Senate to focus legislative efforts on responding to COVID-19. In the coming weeks, the Legislature will be meeting on an on-call basis, only taking up bills that have the joint support of the House and Senate DFL and GOP. 

“I am proud of the bipartisan approach we have taken in passing additional funding to support our efforts in fighting the spread of COVID-19. While the situation of how we do legislative business has changed, the work of my colleagues and I will continue as we remain focused on addressing the challenge of COVID-19 in Minnesota,” said Senator Erik Simonson (DFL-Duluth). “Right now, the most important thing every Minnesotan can do is to follow the guidance of the Minnesota Department of Health and Governor Walz. Our community can expect significant disruptions in our daily lives, but I also know that we are prepared for this challenge.”

The Minnesota Department of Health’s guidelines for community mitigation of the spread of COVID-19 will continue to be updated here: https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/action.html.

Since declaring a peacetime emergency on Friday, Governor Walz has announced a series of executive orders in the interest of the public safety of Minnesota. These include the temporary closure of public schools beginning Wednesday, March 18, and the closure of bars and restaurants beginning Tuesday, March 17 at 5 p.m.

“This is an unprecedented situation before our state, and we are doing everything we can to support our state’s health care system and economy,” said Senator Simonson. “My heart goes out to all of our small businesses and workers who have been negatively impacted, but I remain confident the steps we are taking will help flatten the curve, to ensure our most vulnerable citizens will get the care they need, while also taking proactive measures to provide economic security for people affected.”

There are now two hotlines available for Minnesotans to call to receive more information, both of which are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. For School and childcare questions: 651-297-1304 or 1-800-657-3504. For

Health questions: 651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903.

Additionally, steps are being taken to assist Minnesotans who are facing unemployment because of COVID-19. The most up to date information is available here: https://www.uimn.org/applicants/needtoknow/news-updates/covid-19.jsp.

“Due to the public health crisis of COVID-19 and based on the guidance of the CDC and MDH we will be postponing in-person meetings and town halls at this time, but I still encourage people to reach out to me via email, phone, or on my social networks,” said Senator Simonson. “In the coming weeks we must come together to support one another and our community.”

To reach Senator Simonson by email: sen.erik.simonson@senate.mn. By phone: 651-296-4188. Senator Simonson is also on Facebook @simonsonforsenate1 and on Twitter @eriksimonson.

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Erik Simonson represents District 7 in northeastern Minnesota.

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