April 5, 2020

CHA-MN Local COVID-19 Update of March 5

A quick recap of Coronavirus related news from the past week.  As a reminder, the Governor’s 14-day Stay at Home order went into effect at 11:59 pm, one week ago today.  While the Governor has continued to put in place a number of Executive Orders, most have been revisions to his previous orders.  Today, Governor Walz reached the end of his own 14-day self-quarantine, which was the result of exposure to someone on his executive protection team who contracted the Coronavirus. 
This afternoon, the Governor conducted a half-hour address to the residents of Minnesota.  During the event, he announced a new Minnesota COVID-19 Dashboard.  This new resource includes links to Executive Orders, up-to-the minute data on the spread of COVID-19 in Minnesota along with data on available resources, critical care supplies and Minnesota’s own COVID-19 modeling.  The Governor has also continued this week to conduct his 2pm media briefing and included a variety of agencies heads and commissioners.  During these events, the Governor indicated there is a slim likelihood schools will reopen for the 2019-2020 school year, and suggested he will announce early next week a likely extension to his Stay at Home Order.  The following is a link to the COVID-19 Dashboard.
The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development has continued to work on their updates and tools for Minnesota Employers and Employees.  In addition to managing the State’s UI program, DEED has also been managing the critical worker program, coordinating efforts with the SBA federal loans and grants and the implementation of Minnesota specific loans and grants.  Their information is included in the State’s new COVID-19 Dashboard, or can be reached at the following link.
Since last week’s session, both the House and Senate have begun implementing remote committee hearings.  This week, the House Rules Committee began deploying technology the House will likely use for the balance of the 2020 Legislative Session.  The Minnesota Senate announced the formation of a new COVID-19 Working Group, which will conduct remote hearings on a number of topics.  On Thursday, using Zoom and Facebook Live, the new working group held a hearing on COVID-19 related healthcare issues and today’s hearing focused on jobs and the economy.  Next week, the group plans to discuss state agency budgets and potentially education.
With the Legislature set to return on April 14th, and a constitutional adjournment date of May 18th, the Legislature has a handful of outstanding issues they still hope to resolve, along with additional COVID-19 related legislation.  It is unlikely, the Legislature will return to a business-as-usual process with open committee hearings and broad access to the Capitol complex.  The use of remote technology will create a number of challenges to entities hoping to influence the legislative process.
Items of Note
  • The Governor will conduct his State of the State on Sunday, April 5th at 7pm.  The event normally conducted in the Minnesota House of Representatives, will be broadcast by a single camera from the Governor’s Residence.
  • As of today, 320,043 Minnesota’s have filed for Unemployment Insurance, since the Governor announced his order closing bars, restaurants and places of amusement on March 16th.  For context, this exceeds the total number of Minnesota Unemployment Insurance Claims processed in 2019.
  • This week, Minnesota’s non-profit health insurers agreed to waive all out-of-pocket costs for COVID-19 related in-network treatments and testing.
  • Traffic volumes across the state continue to drop, on April 1st statewide volume was down 38%, with the metro down 44%.
  • The age of individuals who have contracted COVID-19 range from 4 months to 104 years.
  • This week, the Governor announced the cancellation of the Governor’s Fishing Opener – a traditional event showcasing a great Minnesota pastime.  Fishing will still open on May 9th, but without the typical fanfare.
  • The Minneapolis Parks Board decided this week to close all beaches, city pools and programming for the entire summer.
 As mentioned, the Legislature is scheduled to return on April 14th.  It is likely the Legislature will come in, pass some additional COVID-19 related legislation and recess for another extended period of time.  This will allow their members and staff to recognize the rules on social distancing, and time to gather further information on needs related to COVID-19.