Minnesota health officials announced Friday that the number of positive cases of COVID-19 has increased to 14 as Gov. Tim Walz declared a peacetime emergency.
Gov. Walz also unveiled legislative proposals to prepare for the pandemic.
“The safety and well-being of Minnesotans is my top priority and we are working around the clock to combat the spread of COVID-19,” said Governor Walz. “I am declaring a peacetime emergency in Minnesota to ensure the State is able respond to more rapidly to issues as they arrive. We’re looking to the future and preparing for the next chapters of this pandemic as it continues to evolve.”
The newest cases are clustered near the Twin Cities area in Hennepin, Ramsey, Anoka, Dakota, Carver and Wright counties.
Outside of the Twin Cities, cases have also been confirmed in Olmsted and Stearns counties.
More information from Gov. Walz and the state of Minnesota can be found below:
"Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm today issued a number of community mitigation strategies, which Governor Walz advises and urges Minnesotans to follow, including:
• Cancel or postpone large events in excess of 250 people gathered together;
• Ensure space for social distancing of six feet per person at smaller events and gatherings (less than 250 people); and
• Limit gatherings with participants at high risk for severe disease to less than 10 people.
Further details on MDH’s recommended community mitigation strategies can be found here.
In addition to declaring a peacetime state of emergency, Governor Walz also unveiled a package of legislative proposals to better prepare our health care system and provide relief to Minnesotans affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Governor is requesting immediate assistance from the Legislature in creating a COVID emergency fund, removing financial barriers for Minnesotans who need to be tested, expanding the use of paid sick time, and providing long-term care facilities with more resources, among other recommendations."
PROVIDE COVID-19 EMERGENCY FUNDING
The Governor and Lt. Governor recommend the legislature provide COVID-19 emergency funding to ensure state resources are in place to address COVID-19 emergencies and continue the functions of all branches of government, even if the legislature is not in session.
REMOVE FINANCIAL BARRIERS FOR MINNESOTANS WHO NEED TO BE TESTED FOR COVID-19
The Governor and Lt. Governor recommend the removal of financial and administrative barriers that may keep Minnesotans from being tested for COVID-19. This proposal brings private, public, and state health insurance into alignment and provides additional flexibilities, including:
• Authority to waive co-payments for testing, lab, office visits and urgent care related to diagnosis of potential cases of COVID-19;
• Ability to address cost barriers to treatment, particularly for Minnesotans with high deductibles; and
• Flexibility to require network and cost-sharing changes.
PROVIDE NEEDED RESOURCES TO HEALTH CARE AND LONG-TERM CARE FACILITIES
The Governor and Lt. Governor recommend creating a grant and loan program to respond to the needs of health care facilities for training, equipment, transportation, and expansion of systems. In addition, this proposal would provide access to emergency short-term grants, long-term grants, and aid with cash flow for systems and facilities.
ACCELERATE AND MODIFY UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE
The Governor and Lt. Governor recommend allowing benefits to kick in immediately for employees who qualify for unemployment insurance because of COVID-19. The Governor and Lt. Governor also recommend relieving employers of the cost of unemployment benefits paid to their workers as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
EXPAND USE OF PAID SICK TIME
The Governor and Lt. Governor recommend allowing private-sector employees to use paid sick time benefits when taking time off work related to COVID-19.
EXTEND TAX FILING DEADLINE
The Governor and Lt. Governor recommend adjusting the state tax filing deadline to conform to federal extensions.
COMPENSATE HOURLY SCHOOL WORKERS FOR CLOSURES DUE TO COVID19
The Governor and Lt. Governor recommend ensuring hourly workers employed by school districts are compensated during a school closure because of COVID-19.
RATIFY STATE CONTRACTS AND COMPENSATION PLANS
The Governor and Lt. Governor recommend taking legislative action to ratify state employee contracts and compensation plans to provide current insurance benefits and negotiated terms and conditions of employment to state employees, including those protecting the health and safety of Minnesotans.
EXTEND GOVERNOR’S PEACETIME EMERGENCY POWERS
The Governor and Lt. Governor recommended extending the Governor’s peacetime emergency powers for a longer duration for ease in implementation of rules and regulations necessary to help affected Minnesotans.
CONTINUE TO IDENTIFY NEEDS AS THEY ARISE
The Governor and Lt. Governor direct state agencies to examine emergent and ongoing needs of Minnesotans and bring ideas forward for further legislation or rulemaking.