HealthPartners accepting donated N95 and other masks

HealthPartners on Friday, March 27 asked for the public’s support in donating N95 masks and other masks that help protect health care workers against the transmission of COVID-19.

Donations will be accepted at 11 locations, including Hudson Hospital & Clinic, Amery Hosptial & Clinic, Lakeview Hospital and Westfields Hospital & Clinic (dental clinic building). Donation drop-offs can be made 10 a.m. to noon weekdays through Friday, April 3. The donation period may be extended depending on supply and demand.

Donated supplies will be dispersed across care sites to best serve health care workers and front line colleagues interacting with patients. For more information, visit www.healthpartners.com/covid19donations.

Allina starts fund to support employees

Allina Health announced Friday, March 27 the creation of the Caring for Caregivers Fund, which will help cover mortgage or rent expenses, car payments, child care and utility expenses and other financial hardships that may arise as employees give their full attention to caring for those who are seriously ill. Anyone interested in supporting Allina Health employees is invited to make a donation to the fund.

“While many people are staying home to help slow the spread of COVID-19, our employees are honoring their oath to care for the sick and showing up to work,” said Christine Moore, chief human resources officer for Allina Health. “We’ve seen the economic impact COVID-19 can have, so we’ve established this fund to give our employees some peace of mind during this trying time and show them our appreciation.”

Other ways that Allina is caring for its employees are:

  • COVID leave (two weeks’ pay, waived short-term disability waiting period) for any employee prohibited from working due to non-work related exposure (travel, family member who is ill, etc.);
  • Two weeks’ pay for any staff sent home due to canceled elective procedures who are not floated to another part of Allina Health or reskilled;
  • Bright Horizons back-up childcare opened to all employees and reimbursed; YMCA childcare also reimbursed; and
  • Shipt grocery delivery benefit expanded to all employees.

The public also is encouraged to sew masks, make donations of needed personal protective equipment and write notes of encouragement.

NFPA urges added caution around home fire safety during COVID-19 pandemic

As the public largely remains at home in response to COVID-19, the National Fire Protection Association urges added caution around home fire safety in the days and weeks ahead.

According to NFPA, cooking, heating, and electrical equipment are among the leading causes of home fires year-round. “We already see the majority of fires happening in homes,” said Lorraine Carli, vice president of Outreach and Advocacy at NFPA. “As people spend much more time at home and engage in activities that significantly contribute to the home fire problem, it’s critical that they recognize where potential hazards exist and what they can do to prevent fires.”

Cooking is the leading cause of home fires and is responsible for nearly half (49 percent) of all reported home fires involving cooking equipment. Moreover, unattended cooking is the leading cause of home cooking fires, meaning that home cooking fires occur most often when people aren’t keeping a close eye on what they’re cooking.

“As many households are now dealing with unusual routines and out-of-the-ordinary circumstances, such as kids home from school and parents working from home, there’s greater potential for distracted cooking,” said Carli.

NFPA statistic show that heating equipment is the second-leading cause of home fires, resulting in an average of 52,050 home fires each year. Electrical distribution or lighting equipment is involved in an annual average of 35,100 home fires.

“For much of the country, heating systems are still in use and in many cases, for more hours than usual,” said Carli. “In addition, with everyone at home, people may be using the same outlets to charge phones, laptops and other digital equipment, which also presents a fire hazard.”

Minnesota

Attorney general clamps down on pandemic profiteering

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison announced Friday, March 27 that his office has put an end to more COVID-19-related pandemic profiteering.

Among them was Dragon Door Publications, Inc. an online retailer of exercise and weight-lifting equipment based in Little Canada, Minnesota. Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, it had not sold N95 masks in the course of its usual business, but began selling them after the start of the COVID-19 crisis for $5 each, plus shipping. It also offered to donate N95 masks with the sale of its ISOCHAIN exercise fitness program, which retails for $499.

Under the terms of an Assurance of Discontinuance filed in Ramsey County District Court yesterday, Dragon Door agrees to stop selling N95 masks, to provide full refunds to all customers who purchased masks, and to donate all masks in its possession in accordance with Executive Order 20-16. Dragon Door will be liable for a $50,000 civil penalty if it violates the terms of the assurance.

“We’re helping Minnesotans afford their lives during this crisis by cracking down on pandemic profiteering and price-gouging on essential goods and services. Most retailers are doing the right thing by Minnesotans and I thank them for it. Some may think they’re trying to help and may not know they’re engaging in pandemic profiteering. But not knowing doesn’t make it okay, and we will still enforce the price gouging ban,” Ellison said.

Minnesotans are encouraged to report price-gouging on essential goods either through a dedicated online complaint form or by calling 651-296-3353 (metro) or 800-657-3787 (greater Minnesota).

Wisconsin

Burning permits suspended In Wisconsin, campfires strongly discouraged

Spring in Wisconsin has the highest fire risk with the top cause of wildfires being debris burning. Wildfires pose a serious threat to public safety, property and natural resources. Due to the COVID-19 Safer at Home order, all Department of Natural Resources burning permits are suspended until further notice.

All burning of debris in barrels, burning of debris piles on the ground, grass or wooded areas is prohibited at this time. Most debris fires occur in the spring after the snow-cover melts and before vegetation greening. Spring is when people are outside doing yard clean-up and then choosing to burn leaves, brush and pine needles.

DNR burning permits do not apply within incorporated cities and villages. These municipalities oftentimes can and do create their own burning permit requirements. In addition, some townships may choose to be much more restrictive than state law and may not allow burning at any time.

Regardless of where you burn, it is up to you to check with your local municipality for their regulations, even if you have obtained a DNR burning permit. Not sure if your burn location falls within DNR forest fire protection? For a more detailed look, zoom-in to your location on the burning restrictions map.

Emergency responders and firefighters have an increased need to take pandemic precautions, so they remain available to continue to protect the public from wildfires and reduce the spread of COVID-19. Report wildfires by dialing 911 immediately.

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