- Today, the Minnesota House and Senate passed legislation delivering workers’ compensation benefits to health care and public safety workers who contract COVID-19 in the line of duty. In particular, the legislation provides a presumption that if these workers contract COVID-19, they did so during the course of their employment and are covered by workers’ compensation.
- The legislation is the result of an agreement reached by legislative leaders in both the Minnesota House and Senate, as well as Governor Walz.
- A number of professions will benefit from the change – including paramedics, home health care workers, police and fire officials, nurses, emergency medical technicians, correctional officers, and childcare providers who are caring for children whose parents are on the front lines.
- The bill passed the Minnesota House 130-4 and the Minnesota Senate 67-0.
- It is expected that there will be follow-up legislation to this bill to address its funding needs. The legislature is scheduled to return to session on Tuesday, April 14, but can return sooner if needed.
Governor Walz Daily Press Briefing
This afternoon, Governor Walz and administration officials held a conference call with reporters to update the public on state efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Governor Walz announced four additional fatalities in the state due to COVID-19.
- He thanked the legislature for coming together to find agreement on workers’ compensation legislation and announced he intends to sign the bill this evening.
- The governor announced that because of collaboration by the Department of Commerce and Public Utilities Commission, over 100 utilities have stepped up to voluntarily agree to not cut off heat and power to Minnesotans.
- He also mentioned that he anticipates a deal on emergency insulin to come together soon.
- When asked about extending his Stay at Home Executive Order 20-20, the governor responded that he anticipates making an announcement tomorrow extending the order and incorporating refinements to it based on data and trends now available to him and state officials.
- Governor Walz also announced he intends to wear a face mask in public to protect others and encourages Minnesotans to do so as well.
Commissioner Jan Malcolm, Department of Health
- Commissioner Malcolm announced 1,069 laboratory confirmed cases in Minnesota. That’s an increase of 83 over yesterday’s report.
- There have been four more COVID-19 deaths in the state – bringing the total to 34. These four deaths were from residents in long-term care facilities
- 120 patients are in the hospital with 64 of those in the ICU.
- 549 patients have been released from isolation.
- The commissioner announced that Minnesota is seeing a slower rate of the doubling of COVID-19 infections than the state initially anticipated.
- Minnesota had been seeing the infection rate double every one-to-two days in early March.
- Since March 18, the double rate slowed to once every eight days.
Director Joe Kelly, Homeland Security & Emergency Management Division
- Director Kelly announced that the National Guard will be on duty to help the city of Oslo manage their levies due to the flooding in the city.
- The water in the city is going to remain high for the next 10-14 days.
Commissioner Steve Grove, Department of Employment and Economic Development
- Commissioner Grove announced 355,108 unemployment applications have been submitted since March 16.
- This is 11.4% of the total labor force in Minnesota
- 13,424 applications were submitted yesterday.
- The commissioner clarified that the $600 per week authorized by the federal CARES Act will automatically be included in applicants’ benefits. Those applying don’t have to do anything proactively to receive that benefit and it will be back-dated beginning March 29.
Minnesota Senate COVID-19 Response Working Group Holds Fourth Meeting
- Today, the Minnesota Senate held a fourth COVID-19 Response Working Group meeting – focusing on the long term care community. Testifiers included Care Providers of Minnesota, LeadingAge Minnesota, Lakeview Methodist Health Care, the State Ombudsman for Long-Term Care, and the Department of Health.
- Long term care facilities made the decision early on to implement strict preventative measures, including restricting all visitors and screening all staff for temperature before each shift. Staffing shortages, insufficient amounts of testing and personal protective equipment, and adult day program closures were all discussed as critical needs for long term care facilities. The State Ombudsman for Long-Term Care described a series of complaints regarding family members being barred from seeing or monitoring their seniors in critical care.
- Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka (R-Nisswa) summarized his priorities and next steps including:
- Prioritizing testing for long term care facilities in order to help retain workforce and reduce isolation times for seniors.
- Making common sense exceptions so seniors can see their family.
- Being flexible with rules to streamline the addition of healthcare workers.
The next meeting of the Senate COVID-19 Response Working Group will be held on Wednesday, April 8, at 10:30AM. The meeting will be focused on the continuity of transportation operations. The public may view livestream coverage on the Minnesota Senate’s Facebook page.
Amos A. Briggs | Government Relations
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