Governor Tim Walz COVID-19 Update from March 20th

Today Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanagan continued their strong leadership preparing and protecting Minnesotans from the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Governor signed executive orders protecting consumers from price gouging and ensuring vulnerable Minnesotans safely receive care during this critical time. The Governor, Lieutenant Governor and MNsure announced a special enrollment period for uninsured Minnesotans to get needed health coverage, and a new partnership was announced with the YMCA to help provide needed childcare for Minnesotans.

Ban on Price Gouging

Governor Walz worked with Attorney General Keith Ellison to ban price gouging in Minnesota. Over the last weeks, across our state and country, there were reports of individuals trying to take advantage of their fellow citizens during this crisis. One store advertised hand sanitizer for $60 a bottle. A convenience store offered toilet paper at $10 a roll next to a sign reading: “This is not a joke.”

This behavior hurts Minnesotans. Executive Order 20-10 prohibits price gouging during the peacetime emergency. The order takes effect on Saturday, March 21 at 5:00 p.m. 

Minnesotans can report instances of price gouging by calling 651-296-3353 or 800-657-3787. Callers can ask for a translator at these numbers as well. Complaints can be made online at www.ag.state.mn.us/office/complaint.asp.

Ensuring critical services continue for state’s most vulnerable

Governor Walz signed two executive orders today that will streamline access to public health programs and ensure the most vulnerable Minnesotans still have access to critical services during the COVID-19 crisis.

Executive Order 20-11 authorizes the Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) to seek federal authority to temporarily waive or modify certain requirements for federal programs, including but not limited to the Minnesota Family Investment Program, Medical Assistance, and MinnesotaCare, to ensure these programs continue providing necessary support to Minnesota families during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Executive Order 20-12 allows DHS to temporarily issue waivers or modifications to state requirements to ensure that their services can be delivered to Minnesotans safely and without undue delay, protecting vulnerable Minnesotans and those who care for them. DHS provides health care coverage, programs, and services for over 1 million Minnesotans, including groups likely to be significantly impacted by COVID-19 such as older adults, individuals who have disabilities, families with children, and individuals with mental illness.

Special Enrollment Period for Uninsured Minnesotans

Governor Tim Walz and MNsure announced a 30-day special enrollment period (SEP) for qualified individuals who are currently without insurance in response to the potential growth of COVID-19 cases. This SEP, which begins Monday, March 23 and runs through April 21, will allow uninsured individuals 30 days to enroll in health insurance coverage through MNsure.org.

Individuals seeking coverage can visit MNsure.org to complete an application and enroll in coverage. Plans selected by April 21 will have a retroactive coverage start date beginning April 1.

Partnering with the YMCA to Provide Care for School-Age Children

Governor Tim Walz announced that the state of Minnesota will partner with the YMCA to care for the school-age children of emergency workers in Minnesota. The YMCA will open 38 locations across Minnesota to provide access to distance learning and care to children in kindergarten through sixth grade, coordinating with school districts. 

Starting Monday, March 23 the YMCA sites will begin providing licensed care from 8:30 a.m. through 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday for children over five. The program will follow social distancing and cleaning guidelines from the Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The program will be prioritized for children of emergency workers, including educators, grocery store workers, utility workers, essential state and local government staff. 

A full list of locations is available at ymcamn.org/mnchildcare. The cost is $40 per day and locations will coordinate with school districts on food drop-off sites. Registration is open and accessible at ymcamn.org/mnchildcare or 612-230-9622.