The COVID-19 situation continues to evolve by the hour. We all have a role to play in preventing its spread to keep our neighbors and community safe. As we are likely to face increasing challenges, the legislature’s responsibility is to ensure Minnesota is prepared to respond. We are taking proactive, swift and thoughtful action to address this issue.

Public health officials in Minnesota are working around the clock to prepare for and stop the spread of COVID-19. The Capitol, House, Senate, Department of Health and governor’s office are in near-constant communication to ensure we can quickly work to prevent further outbreak.

On March 10, Gov. Tim Walz signed into law legislation that authorizes nearly $21 million for our public health response to COVID-19. I’m proud that the legislature moved quickly and collaboratively (the funding passed with unanimous support in both the House and Senate) to provide the Minnesota Department of Health with additional resources. But there is more we need to do.

On March 11, my colleagues announced a package of legislation to further address COVID-19. The bills would:

  • Require health plans to cover all costs of testing, treatment and quarantine related to COVID-19

  • Ban price gouging of necessary goods and services during an emergency

  • Compensate hourly school workers for days canceled or missed due to COVID-19

  • Expand the governor’s authority to declare public health emergencies as possible peacetime emergencies

  • Establish a loan account for health care providers

  • Expand unemployment insurance and sick leave benefits during times of emergency

Minnesotans are encouraged to thoroughly and frequently wash their hands, cover coughs and sneezes, stay home when they are sick and to stay informed. The MDH website (www.health.state.mn.us) is a great resource, and a public hotline (651-201-3920) will be open 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily.

I encourage Woodbury residents to reach out to my office with questions and concerns — we can work together to ensure Minnesota is prepared to navigate this public health crisis.