Situation Update for Wednesday, April 8

Posted at 10:28 a.m. Updated at 11:13 a.m.

This article will be updated as more information becomes available.

STATE UPDATES

Gov. Tim Walz is expected to give an update on Minnesota’s next steps to combat COVID-19. Numerous reports indicate a potential extension of the stay at home order, but with modifications that may allow more businesses to reopen. The public can view it remotely at 2 p.m. today on the YouTube Live page.

The Minnesota Department of Health confirmed this morning that there are now over 1,100 positive cases of COVID-19 in the state, with over 30,000 people tested for the virus. Over 600 patients have been released from isolation, and 39 deaths have been reported. There are 135 patients hospitalized from COVID-19 complications, and of those, 64 are in critical care.

Community transmission still accounts for 35 percent of the patients’ likely exposure, with exposure after contact with another COVID-19 patient accounting for 25 percent.

MDH now reports the long term care facilities that have at least one case. Long term living facilities account for six percent of known COVID-19 cases in the state.

DISASTER DECLARATION

FEMA announced that federal emergency aid has been made available for the state of Minnesota to supplement state, tribla and local recovery efforts in the areas affected by COVID-19.

Federal funding is available to state, tribal, eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency protective measures, including direct federal assistance under Public Assistance, for all areas affected by COVID-19 at a federal cost share of 75 percent.

U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) issued a statement following the news that the Administration has granted the state of Minnesota’s request for federal disaster assistance due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Earlier this week, the Minnesota Congressional Delegation urged the Administration to approve Minnesota’s request for a major declaration due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“The coronavirus pandemic has caused a public health and economic crisis across Minnesota,” Klobuchar said. “This declaration is a step toward making sure those in need have access to critical resources. I will continue working to ensure that all Minnesotans, as well as our state’s health care facilities, small businesses, and farmers, have access to much needed relief.”

ELECTIONS

Secretary of State Steve Simon is scheduled to appear before the Minnesota House Subcommittee on Elections to introduce a bill that would give the SOS’s office temporary expanded authority to ensure the conduct of safe elections during this pandemic.

“The administration of elections has become a public health issue. Minnesotans should not have to choose between their health and their right to vote,” said Secretary Simon. “After talking with elections professionals from all levels of government throughout the state, the goal became very clear to me: we need to minimize exposure at polling places and maximize voting by mail.”

If the bill were enacted, Minnesota’s elections for 2020 would include the following temporary, one-time changes:

• Each registered voter will automatically receive a ballot in the mail
• Witness signature will be required for voting
• Reduction in number of polling places on Election Day
• Extra time allotted for elections administrators to process ballots

“I hope we can all rise to the moment,” Secretary Simon said. “People will look back at this time and wonder what we did to make things better – and whether we put others before ourselves and our own interests. Now we need to look to solutions that match the scope and scale of the problem.”

LOCAL UPDATES

Sanford Health on Monday reported they had confirmed seven positive COVID-19 cases at the Bemidji location. Only six of those live in Beltrami County, according to an update Tuesday from Public Health Director Cynthia Borgen.

As of Tuesday, Cass County has three cases, Clearwater County has two, Mahnomen County has one, Polk County has one case and Itasca County has two cases of the virus. Koochiching County also has one case, as does Roseau County.

MOONDANCE JAM

Moondance Jam, in a Facebook announcement Friday evening, said they still plan to hold Moondance Jammin’ Country in June and Moondance Jam in July.

“The health and safety of our employees, fans and partners is our primary concern and we will be monitoring the situation leading up to our festivals. We will be in contact with local and state health officials and will be following their recommendations over the course of this time. There are still too many unknowns at this time to make any predictions, but we encourage you to keep yourself and your loved ones safe and follow the guidelines that your local and state leaders are giving you to help flatten the curve on the spread of this disease. Our ultimate hope is that the pandemic is under control by the time our events take place and we will all be celebrating music, friendship and good times with our Moondance family this summer.”

 


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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