MN Gov. Walz signs bill authorizing nearly $21 million for coronavirus response

The nearly $21 million investment to the public health response contingency account will help the State respond to a potential coronavirus outbreak
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Gov. Tim Walz

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WKBT) – Today, Governor Walz signed a bill into law authorizing nearly $21 million in state funds for a public health response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The funds will be added to the existing $4.6 million in Minnesota’s public health response contingency account for a total of approximately $25 million to support disease investigation, monitor the outbreak, provide public information, coordinate statewide response activities, and conduct laboratory analysis.

“Preparing our state for the coronavirus has become our top priority,” said Governor Tim Walz. “Here in Minnesota, we know this pressing public health crisis must transcend partisanship. That is why we worked in a bipartisan manner to pass this law, prepare for a potential outbreak, and protect the health of Minnesotans.”

“We must do everything we can to put Minnesota in the best position possible to prepare for and respond to the coronavirus,” said Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan. “I am proud of this swift, bipartisan response that will ensure our state is ready for what this virus could bring.”

“While we know that there are only two confirmed, travel-related cases of the coronavirus in Minnesota, we need to be prepared for a potential spread of the virus in our state,” said Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcom. “The Department of Health has estimated that the state will need at least $25 million to respond to a potential outbreak, and I am grateful to our elected leaders for making this a priority.”

“Minnesota is fortunate to have a strong public health sector,” said House Speaker Melissa Hortman. “Minnesotans can be assured that our public health officials are working around the clock to prepare for and to slow the spread of COVID-19. I’m pleased we were able to move quickly to provide the Minnesota Department of Health with additional resources.”

“We passed this funding because we are planning, not panicking. We aren’t doing any of this out of fear, just sensible decision-making. Senator Jerry Relph came with the idea to get ahead of the public health needs early last week, and we were able to move this bill quickly and with unanimous support in the Senate. Minnesotans should take that as a sign that we are making the best decisions at the right time for our state,” said Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka.

The virus that causes COVID-19 is spread by respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how flu spreads, or when people touch surfaces that have been contaminated by an infected person, and then touch their eyes, nose or mouth.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) recommends that the most important thing Minnesotans can do right now to protect themselves, their families and their communities is to take everyday steps to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses. Those include:

• Staying home if you have cold or flu-like symptoms and avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
• Covering your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or into your sleeve, and then throwing the tissue in the trash.
• Washing your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom or before eating. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
• Avoid touching your face – especially your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

More information about coronavirus can be found on MDH’s Coronavirus website.