MN Government Updates 08.24

Minnesota Senate Holds Confirmation Hearing for MPCA Commissioner

Today, two Senate committees held a joint confirmation hearing for Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Commissioner Laura Bishop. Much of the focus of the hearing was on the Walz Administration’s drafting of new clean car rules that some Republican senators believe bypass the authority of the legislature. 

No committee vote was taken on Commissioner Bishop due to the legislature no being in session. If a special session of the legislature is called in September, the Senate would have the opportunity to vote up-or-down on the confirmation of Commissioner Bishop

While commissioners and top officials of the state’s various departments are appointed by the governor, they are subject to confirmation by the Senate. Once appointed, commissioners can serve without any action by the Senate, but they cannot serve any longer if the Senate has voted to refuse to consent to their appointment. If a cabinet official is confirmed, he or she can serve to the end of the governor’s term (at the discretion of the governor).

Minnesota Department of Health Briefing

This afternoon, officials from the Minnesota Department of Health conducted a press briefing with reporters to update the public on the spread of COVID-19 in the state.

Commissioner Jan Malcolm, Department of Health

  • Commissioner Malcolm reported 717 new laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19. This brings the state’s total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases to 70,298.
  • There were 735 new cases on Friday.
  • There were 725 new cases on Saturday.
  • Just under 12,300 COVID-19 tests were processed yesterday.
  • There were four more deaths due to COVID-19. This brings the state’s total number of COVID-19 deaths to 1,771.
  • Currently, 310 patients are hospitalized with 135 of those in the ICU.
  • The seven-day COVID-19 test positivity average is 4.9% (as of August 15). This is up by .1% a week prior.
  • As some school districts make the decision to go to distance learning based on new COVID-19 cases in the community, Commissioner Malcolm expressed the following reminders to Minnesotans:
  • For school staff, families, and students: it’s important to practice social distancing and mask-wearing. It’s also a good idea to “lay low” and avoid gatherings for the two weeks leading up to school resuming.
  • For schools: it’s important to have the most updated contact information for families of students as school officials communicate potential changes to the learning model for the academic year.
  • For all Minnesotans: be mindful of the impact individual actions have on others and exercise health precautions in order to keep students and school staff as safe as possible.

Director Kris Ehresmann, Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention, and Control Division

  • Director Ehresmann reminded people who live in multi-unit residential buildings to wear a mask in common areas.
  • When asked about the CDC’s vist to the Minnesota Department of Health today, Director Ehresmann responded that the meeting is about Minnesota being one of five states participating in a pilot effort to think about and inform planning for vaccine distribution. She said it’s an opportunity for local public health agencies and tribal health entities to participate and comment on how a vaccine would be made available to Minnesotans – including the role pharmacists would serve. Director Ehresmann said that vaccines would be prioritized to healthcare personnel and vulnerable populations. Since there are likely to be several different formulations or manufacturers of a vaccine, it will be important for people to receive the same vaccination as the expectation is that this will be a two-dose vaccine. Participating in this pilot effort does not mean Minnesota will get the vaccine earlier than other states.

Amos A. Briggs | Government Relations
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