COVID-19 Pandemic

Efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 continued in Minnesota this past week even as Wisconsin residents prepared to shelter-in-place starting on March 25. 

According to the Minnesota State Emergency Operations Center there were of 262 lab-confirmed cases on COVID-19 in Minnesota on March 24 – up 27 cases from March 23. Of that number, 21 patients in Minnesota have been hospitalized (15 currently hospitalized) and one deceased. The rest are recovering at home. No Pine County residents had yet been diagnosed with COVID-19 at press time.

School, bar closings extended

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz said the executive orders to close schools and gathering places such as bars and gyms  will be extended beyond the original expiration date of Friday, March 27. He said shelter-in-place 

ECE, Minnesota Energy suspend disconnections

Due to COVID-19, East Central Energy has suspended electricity disconnects and Minnesota Energy has suspended natural gas disconnects. 

ECE will suspend disconnects for 30 days. Minnesota Energy will suspend disconnects until further notice.

ECE urged members to keep up with payments and contact their office if struggling to pay the bill. 

Mental health services

Therapeutic Services Agency, Inc. in Pine City remains open to offer mental health services and more, including telehealth services. Call 320-629-7600 for more information.

Dentists open for emergency care

While area dentist offices are closed for non-essential treatments and procedures, they will retain limited open hours for urgent dental care scenarios including: severe, persistent toothaches; teeth loose or knocked-out; broken teeth and dental abscesses (tooth infections). Contact your dentist for more details. 

Tax filing extension

Those filing federal and state Individual Income Tax return for tax year 2019 now have until Wednesday, July 15, 2020, to file and make their payments without any penalties or interest.

No Evictions 

Walz announced an executive order on March 23 stating landlords and financial institutions cannot begin eviction proceedings that would remove tenants from stable housing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Business emergency loans

A Small Business Emergency Loan Program for businesses affected by COVID-19 has been established by the Minnesota Department of Economic Development. Loans will be between $2,500 and $35,000 for qualifying small businesses. The loans will be 50% forgivable, and offered at a 0% interest rate.

Special enrollment for MNsure through April 21

Those who are uninsured right now can get covered through MNsure. In response to the potential growth of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, MNsure is offering a special enrollment period to eligible Minnesotans. Apply on MNsure.org by April 21.

Coverage will start Wednesday, April 1. (If you enroll after April 1 and by 11:59 p.m. on April 21, your coverage will have a retroactive start date of April 1.)

For help call the MNsure Contact Center at 855-366-7873 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday-Friday.

Hospitals prepare, residents sew

Across Minnesota, healthcare services gathered resources in preparation for an expected influx of COVID-19 patients. Hospitals put their virus-protection N95 respirator masks under lock and key, and issued out to nurses only as deemed absolutely necessary. 

Many local residents, already social distancing, began sewing protective masks for healthcare workers. While homemade masks are unable to completely block airborne viruses, healthcare workers were prepared to accept them gladly as better than no mask at all if the supply of N95 respirator masks runs out. 

Exposure and infection

Walz has been quarantined after exposure to COVID-19. The husband of Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar has been hospitalized with COVID-19. 

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