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COVID-19 Updates

Updates on the current COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic response in Minnesota.

Latest Updates

Cases:

Updated September 21st, 2021, per the Minnesota Department of Health. Please note that not all cases of COVID-19 are tested, so the numbers below are not representative of the total number of people in MN who have COVID.

  • Total positive cases statewide to date: 690,391 and 6,352 new cases (8% of these cases are people of African heritage)
  • Patients who no longer need to be isolated: 665,345 (25,046 active cases)
  • Deaths: 8,011 (5% of these deaths are people of African heritage)
  • Counties with over 20,000 confirmed cases: Anoka (41,946), Dakota (47,132), Hennepin (130,562), Ramsey (55,293), Stearns (23,896) and Washington (28,634)

Further statistics on the number of COVID-19 cases in each county and the number of critical care supplies that the state currently has stocked piled can be viewed on the Governor's COVID-19 website by clicking here  . For statistics on how COVID-19 is affecting the African heritage community specifically, you can view the MN Dept. of Health's website by clicking here 

Testing in MN Prisons:

The Department of Corrections has started to test for and track cases of COVID-19 in prisons. As of Sept. 21st, 141,888 (100%) inmates have been tested and  there have been 4,331 confirmed cases. Of those reported cases 15 are active cases, 12 inmates have died from COVID-19. To view the full listing of cases, latest updates, visitation protocol, vaccination efforts and track the precautions that each facility is taking click here Updates for inmate families can be viewed by clicking here

Feeling Sick:  The Governor has updated a portion of his COVID-19 website to help community members to know when they should get tested by answering a quick questionnaire. This section also enables community members to submit feedback and complaints regarding their COVID-19 testing experience and locate their nearest testing site. You can visit this section of his website by clicking here  There is a new state website that helps community members to find testing locations and track their results. To visit this new website click here  

Saliva Testing:  The State of Minnesota has announced new saliva testing facilities throughout the state. Saliva testing is more comfortable that the standard nose swab testing, which hopes to encourage community members to get tested more readily. Testing sites have opened in Duluth, Moorhead, Brooklyn Park, St. Paul, Minneapolis, St. Cloud, and Mankato so far with more to come. There is also a saliva testing lab in Oakdale which hopes to shorten lab results turnover times versus mailing tests out of state. To request an appointment, visit here.

Testing at Home: Minnesota is proud to now offer at-home COVID-19 saliva testing for any person who wants to be tested, with or without symptoms, at no cost. For more information, visit here.

Drive-up Testing:  Northpoint is now offering drive-up COVID-19 testing by appointment only. You must have one or more of the following symptoms to be tested: fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, muscle aches, headache, sore throat, diarrhea or loss of taste of smell. Drive-up appointments must be in a vehicle. Everyone in the vehicle that would like to be tested must have an appointment. Call 612-543-2500 to schedule your appointment today. 

Lifting of The Mask Update:

Gov. Walz held a press conference where he announced that the state mask mandate would end. Fully vaccinated Minnesotans are no longer required by a state level mandate to wear a mask indoors. Community members who are not fully vaccinated are still required to wear a mask in public indoor spaces. Although the state mandate has been lifted, local governments, private businesses and healthcare establishments are allowed to still require a mask in their establishment. 

Additional COVID-19 information can be found on the COVID-19 tab of this website and can be viewed by clicking here The Governor's latest update, where he outlines these guidelines can be viewed by clicking here


K-12 School Guidance:

The Minnesota Departments of Health and Education released updated COVID-19 guidance for K-12 schools. While local schools will be making their own decisions regarding health and safety policies, the guidance is designed to support local school boards and school leaders as they make their decisions for the upcoming school year.

Among the specific points highlighted in the guidance:

  • All people ages 12 years and older should get vaccinated for COVID-19 before returning to in-person school, sports, or other activities to protect themselves and people around them who cannot get vaccinated.
  • All students, teachers, staff, and visitors in school buildings should wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status.
  • Schools should maintain at least 3 feet of physical distance between students within classrooms whenever possible.
  • Students, teachers, and staff should stay home if they have signs of any infectious illness and should contact their health care provider for testing and care.
  • Students, teachers, and staff who have not been fully vaccinated should get tested and stay home if they have had recent close contact with a confirmed case. Additional testing can be found here.
  • People who are not fully vaccinated and are returning to in-person school, sports, or extracurricular activities (and their families) should get tested regularly for COVID-19, according to CDC guidance.
  • Schools should encourage ventilation and contact tracing, in combination with isolation and quarantine, handwashing, respiratory etiquette, cleaning, and disinfection as important layers of prevention to keep schools safe.

To view the recommendations, click here

For more information, click here 

Small Business Help:

The MN Dept. of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), has a $7 million one-time increase in funding to provide technical assistance for small businesses, DEED will award $9.85 million in grants to nonprofit organizations that provide business assistance to targeted groups. Applications for grants are now being accepted and  the last day to submit them is September 15. More information on this grant can be viewed by clicking here

The Dept. of Economic and Employment Development (DEED), Deputy Commissioner Warfa, is hosting community calls on varies topics including small business assistance and unemployment insurance benefits every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday at 4:00 pm. Questions can be submitted beforehand by clicking here 

The dial in number is 415-655-0003 and the code is 969-724-973

Health Insurance Help:

·    Minnesotans who received unemployment income at any time in 2021 now can access extremely low-cost health insurance through MNsure.

The new benefits were implemented as part of the American Rescue Plan legislation enacted earlier this year. New federal subsidies for private health insurance on MNsure act as an instant discount for consumers, lowering the cost for monthly premiums. Some Minnesotans can find a plan with a premium as low as $0 per month.

MNsure encourages anyone who received unemployment income for at least one week in 2021 to check out their options. If you are uninsured or enrolled in a plan outside of MNsure and qualify for this benefit, you will have a 60-day special enrollment period to shop for coverage and select a private health insurance plan with a low monthly cost or even a $0/month premium. Current MNsure enrollees who qualify also can use this opportunity to change to a $0/month premium plan.

Wondering if you may qualify? Free help is always available through MNsure. Visit MNsure.org and select “Find free help” to get started today.

For more information click here


Unemployment Insurance Help:

The Minnesota Department of Unemployment Insurance has transformed their website and response times to adapt to the influx of people applying for unemployment. Information provided includes applying for unemployment benefits, information on what happens after you apply and a Q & A about business hour reductions and layoffs. One of the Governor’s Executive Orders waives fees for employers, so that unemployment checks can be sent out sooner. For more information on unemployment and to apply click here.

Self-Employed people and Independent Contractors are able to gain access to benefits through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. It specifically provides benefits to people who are not eligible for regular unemployment benefits, such as those that are self-employed, independent contractors, workers in non-covered employment, people who lack sufficient work history to get regular unemployment benefits and people living in a household where the head of household has died as a result of COVID-19. This is a new program and payments started being issued in April. For more information on this new program click here.

CareerForce is hosting online Job Fairs and offering resume creation help. Click here for a full listing of dates and times for their upcoming events. 

The Dept. of Economic and Employment Development (DEED), Deputy Commissioner Warfa, is hosting community calls on varies topics including small business assistance and unemployment insurance benefits every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday at 4:00 pm. Questions can be submitted beforehand by clicking here The dial in number is 415-655-0003 and the code is 969-724-973

Energy Assistance Program (EAP):

Quick Facts:

·       Renters & homeowners are eligible. Assets such as the home are not considered in determining eligibility. Grants range from $200 to $1,400, based on household size, income, and fuel cost. The average grant is about $500. In addition to the initial grant, additional Crisis funds are available to:

  • ·       Help pay a past due bill or get an emergency fuel delivery.
  • ·       Help homeowners get their broken furnace repaired or replaced.
  • ·       The annual Crisis maximum is increased to $1,200 (up from $600).
  • ·       Income eligibility is based on past one month

How to apply:

  • ·       Households contact their local EAP service provider to apply for EAP.
  • ·       Households find their EAP provider:
  •    By calling 1-800-657-3710 & entering their zip code, or by clicking here

 

General  information on EAP can be found by clicking here  

Food Assistance:

Using authority granted in a bipartisan bill passed by the legislature and signed by Governor Tim Walz, Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm and Department of Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead today signed a joint disaster declaration, which will be submitted along with Minnesota’s application for Emergency Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (E-SNAP) funding. Today’s declaration ensures Minnesotans will continue to receive $45 million in monthly emergency food assistance benefits for over 550,000 Minnesotans.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is expected to approve an agreement that preserves $45 million per month in E-SNAP funding for Minnesotans who need help buying groceries, even after the state’s peacetime emergency ended on July 1.

For more information on SNAP, visit the state’s COVID-19 emergency food support webpage. The Minnesota Food Helpline provides assistance to people seeking food and application help at 1-888-711-1151. 

Travel:

Currently the US border to Canada is partially closed and part of the US Mexico border are closed. Incoming flights from China, Iran and Europe of non-US citizens are prohibited from entry to the US. Hawaii is requiring all in-bound travelers to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. If you are traveling from an area in the US that has community spread (spread from human to human that is not travel related), it is best to self-quarantine for 14 days from the date that you left said area. For more travel information, visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website by clicking here

Housing:

The Eviction Moratorium that prevented evictions during the pandemic ended yesterday. Many in our community are now subject to eviction for back due rent and mortgage payments. If you are one of these community members, the MN Dept. of Housing has funds available to help you make your rent and/or mortgage payments, dating back to March of 2020. Currently they have more funds than applications. If you have an application for these emergency rental funds that is pending, you cannot be evicted until a determination is made. These emergency funds will be provided through June of 2022. To apply for the COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance funds click here

Denied Assistance?

  • Clients denied assistance from Rent Help can call The Housing Justice Center. Their lawyers are addressing this issue. (612) 807-1139
  • October 12th is the first day landlords can send out their 15 or 30 day notice; prior to that no one can be evicted for nonpayment of rent except for if they refuse to apply for Rent Help MN, material breach of lease or serious endangerment.
  • For more information, contact Beth Kelly: beth.kelly@vlnmn.org 

The Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation

The foundation may be able to assist with property taxes and moving expenses in crisis situations. Contact Arbadella Williams: Arbadella.Williams@spmcf.org

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