The top order of business was passing a small business relief package. The bill is off to the Governor’s desk and includes $216 million in economic relief:
- $88 million for the Minnesota Department of Revenue to distribute to bars, restaurants, and other closed business that had a 30% or higher reduction in their sales tax payments in the past three weeks. The grants would range from $10,000 to $45,000 per business based on the size of their operations.
- $14 million for the Department of Employment and Economic Development to make grants to movie theaters and conventions centers. Closed theaters would be eligible for up to $15,000 per screen. Event centers would get grants based on their capacity up to $500,000.
- $115 million for counties to distribute to local businesses as they see needs. Businesses that may not have met the threshold of a 30% drop in sales tax payments could be eligible for relief.
The legislature also voted to extend unemployment benefits for 13 weeks with a $25 million appropriation. If the federal government passes a relief package that includes the extension of unemployment benefits, the federal program will replace the state program.
The legislature also debated the governor’s continuation of peacetime emergency powers. As expected, the Republican Senate voted to end Governor Walz’s emergency powers, while the DFL House rejected the resolution. The governor formally extended the peacetime emergency in Minnesota by another 30 days through January 13, 2021.
Minnesota Department of Health Briefing
This afternoon, officials with the Minnesota Department of Health conducted a press briefing with reporters to update the public on the spread of COVID-19 in the state and discuss COVID-19 vaccination.
Commissioner Jan Malcolm, Department of Health
- Commissioner Malcolm reported 3,026 new cases of COVID-19. This brings the state’s total number of COVID-19 cases to 381,841.
- An additional 18 Minnesotans have died due to COVID-19. This brings the state’s total number of COVID-19 deaths to 4,462.
- Currently, 1,283 Minnesotans are hospitalized for COVID-19 with 319 of those in the ICU.
- The current COVID-19 case positivity rate is between 12% and 13%. This is down from the state’s peak of 15.4%.
- Commissioner Malcolm said that the state anticipates reaching 400,000 total COVID-19 cases before Christmas.
- It took 30 weeks to reach 100,000 cases.
- It took 6 weeks to reach the next 100,000 cases.
- It took 16 days to reach the next 100,000 cases.
- Over 1,000 Minnesotans have died from COVID-19 since mid-November
- It took 12 weeks from the first reported death to reach 1,000 deaths.
- It took 17 weeks to reach the next 1,000 deaths.
- It took only 7.5 weeks to reach the next 1,000 deaths.
- It took only 20 days to reach the next 1,000 deaths.
Director Kris Ehresmann, Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention, and Control Division
- Director Ehresmann reported that the first Minnesota shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine came to four sites today:
- Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Medical Center
- Sandford Bemidji Medical Center
- Olmsted Medical Center
- Cass Lake Indian Health Services
- 46,800 units of vaccine are expected to be received across hubs in Minnesota this week. The vaccine will eventually be distributed to smaller hospitals and clinics for healthcare workers in Minnesota.
- The first groups designated for vaccination are healthcare workers and long-term care residents.
- The priority groups for Phase 1B and Phase 1C have yet to be determined, but the state anticipates it will be essential workers and older adults.
- This week, Minnesota Department of Health staff will be training providers on protocols and procedures relating to the vaccine. Most vaccinations will begin next week, December 21.
Amos A. Briggs | Government Relations
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