MN Government Updates 04.24

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. Much of the focus of today’s media availability was on the continuation of distance learning for the remainder of the school year.

Governor Tim Walz

  • Governor Walz noted it was a hard decision to extend distance learning for the remainder of the school year.
  • The governor announced the launch of a new section on the COVID-19 state website to help Minnesotans find a testing location in their community.
    • The website provides easy access to Minnesotans’ closest testing site, offers general information related to the COVID-19 outbreak, and provides an interactive screening tool to help Minnesotans determine if they need a test.
    • The interactive testing site allows the state to coordinate with local public health and tribal organizations that have strong connections to the communities they serve.
  • Walz also shared the news that the Department of Employment and Economic Development is making pandemic unemployment assistance payments to independent contractors and self-employed individuals beginning today.
  • Additionally, the governor announced that his merit selection panel has recommended four finalists for appointment to the Minnesota Supreme Court to fill an upcoming vacancy. Justice David Lillehaug will be stepping down from the state’s high court effective July 31.
  • When asked about when he will be making a decision regarding the opening or continued closure of bars and restaurants, the governor responded that there will be a decision sometime in the middle of next week.
  • When asked about whether hospital surge capacity and critical care supplies are ready for a peak in hospitalizations, the governor responded that he’s “guardedly optimistic” and that he feels “confident that anyone who needs critical care would get it.” He also said that the personal protective equipment supply chain is “becoming a little bit more clarified” but that he’s not yet comfortable. He said Minnesota will create its own strategic stockpile.

Commissioner Jan Malcolm, Department of Health

  • Commissioner Malcolm said that Minnesotans should expect to see the number of cases increase each day as the virus spreads and as testing increases.
  • The state has 244 more laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19. This brings the state total to 3,185.
  • Additionally, 21 more people have passed away due to COVID-19. This bring the state total to 221. Of the 21, 18 were residents of long-term care facilities.
  • Currently, 278 patients are hospitalized for COVID-19 with 111 of those in the ICU.

Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan

  • Lt. Governor Flanagan said this is a difficult time. She noted that in addition to being lieutenant governor, she is also the mother of a first grade who is distance learning.
  • She mentioned that distance learning has exacerbated already-existing inequities within our education system – especially for communities of color, indigenous students, those struggling financially, and those who have less access to technology or high-speed internet.
  • For those experiencing mental health challenges or a crisis, texting “MN” to 741741 will prompt someone to reach out with assistance. Alternatively, individuals can also call **CRISIS. More information is available on the state COVID-19 website.

Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker, Department of Education

  • Commissioner Ricker reiterated that the state understands that school closures puts burdens on families and students and that it disproportionally impacts communities of color, indigenous students, students with disabilities, and those who may not have access to technology or high-school internet.
  • The commissioner outlined three ways that the department is providing additional support for students, families, and teachers for improvements to distance learning:
    • Recommitting to intentional relationship building between students and educators.
    • Working to get broadband and devices to every student through legislation and public-private partnerships.
    • Collaborating with different agencies and local organizations to ensure that there are adults who can check in on the status of students regularly.
  • She encouraged parents to contact local schools or the Department of Education with any questions. Parents can email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

House, Senate to Reconvene Floor Sessions Next Week

The House and Senate will reconvene for floor sessions next week. The Senate will return on Monday at 11:00 a.m. while the House will convene again on Tuesday at 12:00 p.m.

Amos A. Briggs | Government Relations
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