Hi again, Ward 11.
Heading into our second week of widespread disruption due to COVID-19, our local response continues to evolve quickly to match the needs of our community. It can be challenging to keep up with the constant flow of information, and my hope is that these newsletters provide a useful rundown of resources, updates, and tips. Additionally, I am sharing real-time updates on Facebook (see my page here) and on Twitter (find my feed here).
If you have questions or need further information, contact me anytime via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 612-673-2211.
The City continues to work closely with the Minnesota Department of Health, which is leading the statewide response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Right now, the most important thing for every single one of us to do is help keep the disease from spreading. The best ways to keep from spreading the disease are to thoroughly wash your hands; avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth; and stay home as much as possible. Even if you don’t have any symptoms, it’s important to keep at least 6 feet away from others. That’s about an arm’s length from you, an arm’s length from them, and another foot in between.
If you develop symptoms, please follow this guidance from state officials:
The CDC also offers detailed guidance if you think you are sick – see their advice on how to take care of yourself, and keep from spreading COVID- 19.
First responders and healthcare workers are running low on supplies to keep them safe and allow them to do what’s needed to protect our community during the COVID-19 crisis. Hennepin County has opened drop-off locations for the most-needed items, including:
The following drop off sites are open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.:
Sew Masks for Medical Professionals from Home
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota and Allina Health, along with community partners, have launched a statewide volunteer effort to sew and donate masks for frontline medical staff. Volunteers need to use a CDC-compliant pattern, approved by Allina, as well as a mix of 100% cotton and tightly woven flannel fabric to create the masks. Volunteers should practice social distancing and make masks individually in their own homes rather than in a group. If you’re interested in helping, you can find more information here.
Blood supplies are running critically low as more people stay home, leading to an unprecedented number of blood drive cancellations. You can still safely donate blood to help correct this severe shortage, and healthy individuals are encouraged to give now to help folks in need who count on lifesaving blood donations. This need is constant, pandemic or not. Folks can give blood every eight weeks. You can find donation locations and make an appointment through the Red Cross here or Memorial Blood Centers here.
Both the IRS and state Department of Revenue have extended the deadline for individual income tax returns and payments through July 15, 2020 and will not assess penalties or interest on filings made on this new timetable. This means taxpayers have three extra months to file and pay federal and state income taxes. Get more information here.
Governor Tim Walz today signed an executive order to halt eviction proceedings during this emergency. Preventing the loss of housing during the COVID-19 crisis is critical to keep individual households, and the public at large, safe. We talk often in our community about how stable housing is the foundation for safety, health, and prosperity. Today’s order states that tenants who can continue to pay rent should do so. It also states that landlords and financial institutions may not begin eviction proceedings that would remove tenants from stable housing. More information is available here.
The Small Business Administration has announced an Economic Injury Disaster Loan program to support businesses affected by COVID-19. If you’re a business owner who has been impacted by this crisis, you can apply for a disaster loan online. There are a number of forms it is helpful to fill out beforehand, and you can see a list of those — along with more information about this program — here. In addition, the Small Business Administration’s Minnesota office is hosting two trainings, twice a day every day, until our community’s needs are met. Find the full listing of upcoming trainings and register by scrolling down the “Small Business Events” section of this website and selecting “show entire month.”
In another executive order issued today, Governor Tim Walz authorized the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) to launch a Small Business Emergency Loan program for those whose operations have been affected by COVID-19. This program offers immediate assistance to small businesses and independent contractors, groups that are among the most impacted by the pandemic. The program is designed to help with immediate needs as federal and other aid programs get underway. I am particularly pleased to see the state’s acknowledgement of independent contractors’ needs – we have many of these workers in our community, and getting resources to them is critical.
In total, this program will deploy $30 million in state funds through a lender network to make loans of $2,500 to $35,000 for qualifying small businesses. The loans will be 50% forgivable and offered at a 0% interest rate. If you have questions, email ELP@state.mn.us.
The Star Tribune’s food critic published a rundown of 40 takeout and delivery options to support local eateries that need a boost during this time. It was fantastic (though not a surprise, of course) to see some Ward 11 representation on this list: Heather’s, which recently opened in the former Mario’s space at 5201 Chicago Ave, and longtime favorite Prima at 5325 Lyndale.
There are additional resources to help you see how you can support local businesses during this time, whether by ordering for takeout or delivery or buying gift cards to use later. I recommend checking these out (and emailing me at email@example.com if you know of others!):
Mayor Jacob Frey has signed three more emergency regulations since my last newsletter. The first of these expands leave policies and additional supports for City of Minneapolis employees affected by COVID-19, with the goal of keeping the City’s workforce and the community safe. The second rule suspends renewal feels for liquor, wine, and beer licenses – late fees related to these licenses had already been waived. Finally, the mayor added commercial pedal cars (which include pedal pubs) to the list of business that must close during this emergency.
Governor Tim Walz has expanded access to unemployment benefits. If you have had your hours cut, been laid off, or are experiencing childcare challenges due to COVID-19, you are encouraged to apply right away. Get details and apply for unemployment benefits here.
As part of its ongoing effort to limit the spread of COVID-19, Metro Transit will reduce bus and light rail service beginning Wednesday, March 25. This will help the agency address a sharp decline in ridership amid this pandemic and focus resources where they are most needed. Most bus routes will follow their Saturday schedules, and light rail lines will have service every 20 minutes. Get more information and see exceptions here. Metro Transit last week suspended all bus and light rail service between 11 p.m. and 4:30 a.m.
Wherever possible, please follow Metro Transit’s guidance to only use transit for essential travel, exit out the back door of buses, keep distance between you and others (especially bus drivers), and consider waiting for the next bus or train if the one that arrives does not have space to allow for adequate social distancing.
A friendly reminder that only toilet paper can be flushed. Any other paper or cloth products – including disinfectant wipes, and even wipes marked “flushable” — can cause a big, messy sewage problem. If our Public Works crews have to respond to easily avoidable sewage back-ups like these, it takes them away from supporting other essential services that keep our city running. Please be mindful and take extra care to appropriately dispose of all paper and sanitary products.
Governor Tim Walz recently issued an executive order that bans price gouging on essential items including food, water, and fuel as well as products used in healthcare, for personal hygiene, and cleaning. Attorney General Keith Ellison is prepared to follow up on any reports of price going in Minnesota. If you have seen or experienced someone taking advantage of the COVID-19 crisis to hike up prices of necessary goods, fill out this form and the Attorney General’s Office will take appropriate action.
Get information, help, and guidance on the evolving COVID-19 situation using these tools:
As always, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 612-673-2211. My staff and I are working hard to respond promptly to every inquiry, and will do our best to track down any information you need.
Wash your hands, and stay safe!
For reasonable accommodations or alternative formats please call 311 at 612-673-3000.
People who are deaf or hard of hearing can use a relay service to call 311 at 612-673-3000. TTY users can call 612-673-2157 or 612-673-2626.
Para asistencia 612-673-2700, Yog xav tau kev pab, hu 612-673-2800, Hadii aad Caawimaad u baahantahay 612-673-3500.