On Monday, the Minnesota Senate approved a bill to provide emergency funding for combatting COVID-19 in Minnesota. The Senate bill, authored by Senator Jerry Relph (R-St. Cloud), passed with bipartisan support.
“This is a bipartisan effort to make sure that medical professionals and public health workers have the equipment they need to implement preventive measures and that Minnesotans have access to timely testing and treatment. I think we can all agree that the health and safety of Minnesotans comes first,” said Senator Relph, the bill’s chief author. “Public health officials are warning this is on the verge of a worldwide pandemic. With two confirmed cases already in Minnesota, it’s important to get this done.”
“Our state has heightened concern over the virus, but luckily we have not hit epidemic status. We’re trying to get ahead of this to support people who will be handling quarantines, hospital workers, and anyone who may contract the virus,” said Senator Torrey Westrom (R-Elbow Lake). “I pray this doesn’t hit Minnesota hard, but we want to take precautionary steps. There is nothing better to do than to be ready and avoid spreading fear.”
Senate File 3813 appropriates $20.899 million to the Public Health Response Emergency Account. In the event the funds go unused or are reimbursed by the federal government, the money will automatically transfer back to the general fund. 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. Top legislators, the administration, and public health officials remain in frequent contact.
Public health officials have announced two confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in Minnesota. While no large-scale travel bans are in place, officials have announced temporary flight restrictions at Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport. State and local officials are also working with state epidemiological officials on contingency plans that could be implemented if the needed arises.
The legislation was signed by the Governor Tuesday morning.