• 66°

Next steps in responding to COVID-19 pandemic

Dan Sparks

State Senator, District 27

The challenge of COVID-19 continues to be felt for each of us in not just Minnesota, but throughout the country and the world. We are continuing to take steps to respond and to expand our efforts to meet this challenge. Our top priority remains the safety of Minnesotans, and we are also working to provide additional economic security and expansion of state assistance for those who have been impacted.

Last week, we passed a $331 million relief package addressing some urgent needs and concerns to help vulnerable Minnesotans, and to provide more support for our first responders who are on the front line of this crisis. $200 million of that funding will go to a newly created COVID-19 Minnesota Relief Fund, which will allow the Commissioner of Management and Budget to act quickly in directing funds to areas of need.

The federal government is also stepping up, and recently passed a more than $2 trillion relief package. Minnesota will be receiving some funds to help us pay for the actions we are taking at the state but there is also additional support for individuals, small businesses, and others who may be affected by COVID-19.

These resources from the federal government will be available soon, but the state is still waiting some guidance on how exactly they will arrive. Things can change quickly, but we will continue to do everything we can to provide the most up to date information about resources available. Below are some of the most important resources available as of right now:

If you have had your hours cut back or lost your job, please consider applying for unemployment insurance here: www.uimn.org/applicants/needtoknow/news-updates/covid-19.jsp.

If you are a small business owner, emergency loans have been set up to help, which you can apply for here: https://mn.gov/deed/business/financing-business/deed-programs/peacetime/.

MNsure has also opened a special enrollment period that runs Monday, March 23 through Tuesday, April 21. More information is available here: www.mnsure.org/stay-informed/covid-19-info/index.jsp.

The application to apply for Peacetime Emergency Childcare grants is now open. Childcare centers, family childcare, or group family childcare can get up to $4,500 a month and this award increases if care is being provided during non-standard hours or to more than 15 kids. The application can be found here: www.childcareawaremn.org/providers/emergency-child-care-grants/.

There remains a lot of work to do. The legislature is taking steps to improve our efforts to engage with constituents as we prepare further state action on COVID-19. Some issues I am working to get included in our next relief package are guaranteed pay for our school hourly workers, workplace protections for our first responders, and additional economic relief for our small businesses.

Please reach out to my office if you have any questions or concerns, and we will do whatever we can to connect you with resources and assistance.