Senate DFL Leader Melisa López Franzen issued the following statement on Governor Walz’s plans to deal with the record surge in COVID-19 cases brought on by the Omicron variant and Senate Republicans’ response:
“This ongoing and deadly pandemic has driven Minnesota’s hospitals and nursing homes to the brink for nearly two years. The current Omicron surge has resulted in a record number of infections across our state, dangerously stretching many facilities’ resources to the breaking point, and hampering their ability to care for patients.
We need immediate action. Facilities across the state continue to plead for help to ensure they have adequate staff to deal with the dramatic increase in patients.
I fully support Governor Walz’s strong response today to provide $40 million to support health care staffing needs and with other tools necessary to get Minnesota through this crisis until the Omicron surge subsides.
Beyond his actions today, there are other items he has asked legislative leaders to consider in a special session that are also necessary to help the state respond to the Omicron surge. Unfortunately, in response, Senate Republicans put political priorities ahead of effectively addressing the surge by demanding we take steps that don’t come close to meeting this moment. The Governor asked the legislature to address 14 specific items hospitals, nursing home, and child care providers have asked for. Senate Republicans responded with two items, one of which was not even on the list.
That is unacceptable and could ultimately cost Minnesotans their health and their lives. Put simply, the Republican caucus has done nothing but complain about the pandemic and willfully ignored basic public health measures that could have ended this situation months ago.
The public health experts and leaders who have been immersed in pandemic response and patient care for the past two years are begging us to listen to their expertise right now. They have been begging for help since October, when a list of immediate responses was first proposed. Our hospitals and nursing homes have been paralyzed for months because Republicans have prioritized political agendas rather than earnest efforts to help Minnesotans. It is unfortunate to see Republicans once again choose to play games with people’s lives.
Senate DFLers stand ready to work with the Governor and health care leaders to provide immediate relief to hospitals and nursing homes across the state. We sincerely hope Senate Republicans will join us in prioritizing the needs of Minnesotans and our health providers as we deal with the growing number of infections caused by the current surge.”