Situation Update for Thursday, April 23

Posted at 9:17 a.m.

This article will be updated as more information becomes available.

Featured photo: Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm at a video press conference Wednesday, April 22.

STATE UPDATES

Governor Tim Walz announced an ambitious plan to have up to 20,000 Minnesotans tested each day. During the press conference, Walz said the plan was a partnership with the University of Minnesota, the Mayo Clinic and others to create a system that could handle that increased capacity. In addition to the widespread testing of those showing symptoms of COVID-19, severe or not, the state will ramp up contact tracing as part of the effort to contain the contagious virus. The plan is funded in part by $36 million from the COVID-19 Minnesota Fund, allotted by the Minnesota Legislature earlier this month.

The partnership will improve control of COVID-19 in Minnesota through increased public health surveillance and research. The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and its public health partners will simultaneously expand contact tracing efforts for better control of the infection. The partnership will help to identify and respond to emerging “hotspots” of infection.  They will collect data on prevalence, geographic distribution, and barriers to care for the virus, and they will conduct groundbreaking research on COVID-19 to assure that tests are applied according to the best emerging science.

“We are pleased to roll out this new testing effort in partnership with the University of Minnesota and the Mayo Clinic,” Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm said.

“Having this greatly increased testing capacity will improve our understanding of how COVID-19 is spreading in Minnesota, and will provide key data to inform our decisions about how to protect Minnesotans.”

The Housing Finance and Policy Division approved $100 million yesterday to help renters and homeowners across the state. Representative Alice Hausman, chair of the committee, said the proposal is needed to assist renters with making their monthly payments, as well as to help homeowners pay their mortgages. The funding can also be used to help with utility bills and property taxes.

Senate Republicans are introducing a similar measure but the one being proposed in Senate Committees provides about $30 million.

UPDATED RESORTS, RV PARKS AND CAMPING GUIDELINES

The Governor’s Office has issued the following direction for operators:

Resorts

  • The hotel portions of resorts (including rented cabins) can open as planned and can accept guests.
  • Guests do not have to be members of a critical sector to stay at a resort.
  • Communal amenities may not be open for use, except for the following that may be open provided social distancing and enhanced cleaning protocols are followed:
    • Retail food stores
    • Laundry facilities
    • Fish cleaning stations and docks
  • While resorts can accept visitors, the Stay at Home Order continues to discourage unnecessary travel, and the Order asks people to remain close to their homes.
  • Resorts do not have to open if they are not comfortable doing so.

RV Resorts

  • People who rely on their campsite as a primary residence, or that are seasonal renters and who maintain personal property at their site, can continue to utilize the RV resort.
  • Camp sites can be used on a short term or temporary basis by people who require necessary shelter for the purposes of work or required social distancing.
  • Camp sites that are reserved for temporary or rotating use for purely recreational and short term purposes are not allowed.
  • Communal amenities may not be open for use, except for the following that may be open provided social distancing and enhanced cleaning protocols are followed:
    • Bathrooms/shower buildings
    • Retail food stores
    • Laundry facilities
    • Fish cleaning stations and docks
  • While people can visit RV resorts as outlined above, the Stay at Home Order continues to discourage unnecessary travel, and the Order asks people to remain close to their homes.
  • RV resorts do not have to open if they are not comfortable doing so.

Private and Public Campgrounds

  • All private and public campgrounds and dispersed camping sites are closed to recreational camping. This means that camp sites that are reserved for temporary or rotating use for purely recreational and short term purposes are not allowed. This closure does not apply to:
    • People who rely on their campsite as a primary residence, or that are seasonal renters and who maintain personal property at their site.
    • Camp sites used on a short term or temporary basis by people who require necessary shelter for the purposes of work or required social distancing.
  • Communal amenities may not be open for use, except for the following that may be open provided social distancing and enhanced cleaning protocols are followed:
    • Bathrooms/shower buildings
    • Retail food stores
    • Laundry facilities
    • Fish cleaning stations and docks
  • While people can continue to visit campgrounds as outlined above, the Stay at Home Order continues to discourage unnecessary travel, and the Order asks people to remain close to their homes.
  • Campgrounds do not have to open if they are not comfortable doing so

LOCAL UPDATES

Team Industries recently made a donation of 2,000 N95 Masks to the Sanford Health Foundation of Northern Minnesota. N95 masks are recommended by the CDC as a key part of personal protective equipment for healthcare providers caring for patients confirmed to have COVID-19.

Mike Hoffmann, supply chain director for Sanford Bemidji, and Cole Young, development officer for Sanford Health Foundation.

WHITE EARTH

The White Earth Reservation Business Committee (RBC) and White Earth Reservation Natural Resources have made the decision to host a virtual leech drawing to safeguard the health and safety of staff and members due to COVID-19. This leech drawing will be for those interested in leeching the Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge.

To participate in the virtual leech drawing, applicants must send their full name, address, phone number and enrollment number to contact.WEN@whiteearth-nsn.gov by 4:30 p.m. on April 28. On April 30, Natural Resources will draw at random – four names and one reserve for the four approved leeching locations. A video of this drawing will be posted on White Earth Nation’s Facebook page. Winners of the drawing will be notified via social media and phone.

White Earth Nation would like to remind eligible voters that they can vote absentee in this upcoming Election.   It is uncertain when public spaces will be safe for our most vulnerable members so we strongly encourage our membership to vote absentee.   There is still time to request an absentee ballot to cast your vote for our primary election on June 9 and that can be done from the comfort and safety of your home.

Eligible voters can request an absentee ballot at any point before the scheduled election.   A request for an absentee ballot can be mailed (PO Box 10, Mahnomen, MN 56557), emailed (election.board@whiteearth.com), or faxed (218-936-5623) to the White Earth General Election Board.   Before you return your ballot to the White Earth General Election Board, please review your ballot to make sure it is  signed  and that your signature is  notarized.


Larissa Donovan is the News Director for the stations of Paul Bunyan Broadcasting and has been, almost without interruption, since Election Day 2016. She covers events and issues in north central Minnesota, which include local government, crime, courts, education, environment and social issues. She studied communications at Bemidji State University and received her degree in 2018. Larissa, native to the great state of New York, grew up in Bemidji, and enjoys spending her spare time with her family and pet cat. She also loves Star Trek, punk rock music and the theater.


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