Even as daily operations in St. Paul have been altered amid the COVID-19 outbreak, State Representative Bob Dettmer and State Senator Mark Koran indicated in press releases that they are committed to continuing to work for their constitutents.
The House and Senate formally will remain in session as the state addresses the pressing public health issue surrounding COVID-19, with meetings and floor sessions taking place on an on-call basis until April 14.
In a press release, Dettmer said alternate means of working will allow the House to respond to the needs of Minnesotans, while also fully complying with Minnesota Department of Health guidelines including social distancing, limiting large gatherings, telework, and increased cleaning measures necessitated by COVID-19.
“Residents should know that I continue to work on their behalf, but due to the circumstances surrounding COVID-19 all lawmakers are now doing their jobs in different ways,” Dettmer said. “Constituents should continue to contact me with any legislative questions they may have and I will do my best to respond quickly.”
The Senate, meanwhile, passed a large additional emergency funding of $200 million for hospitals, nursing homes and other medical professionals on the front lines to combat the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. The bill lifts the cap for e-learning to give more flexibility to schools. Additionally, the Senate has decided to extend the regularly scheduled Easter Recess two weeks to flatten the curve of coronavirus spread.
“Our work continues, but we need to do our part to protect the public and slow the spread of the virus,” Koran said in a press release. “I will continue working to serve my district, update the public, and be readily available by phone and email. Hopefully, by taking these measures, the state’s infection numbers will remain very low.”
On March 9, the legislature unanimously approved $21 million for emergency funding to combat COVID-19. The emergency funds will allow the Minnesota Department of Health, in collaboration with state and federal officials, to support disease investigation, monitor potential cluster outbreaks, provide information to the public, coordinate statewide response activities, and conduct laboratory analysis. The dollars have flexibility for their use and accountability to be used only for COVID-19.
Dettmer indicated MDH hotlines are available to assist Minnesotans, including a public line at 651-201-3920 and a line for specifically for questions related to schools and childcare at 651-297-1304.
As the COVID-19 virus unfolds in Minnesota, there are several resources that individuals can use to stay up to date on the latest information:
- MDH’s COVID-19 page: health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/index.html
- MDH’s COVID-19 prevention tips: health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/prevention.html
- MDH’s COVID-19 Situation Update: health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/situation.html
- Mayo Clinic’s COVID-19 page: mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/symptoms-causes/syc-20479963
- CDC COVID-19 page: cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html
- CDC COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions: cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html