Minnesota Senate approves $3M funding request for long-term care center testing

Wednesday, the Minnesota Senate has approved a request for $3 million from the state’s COVID-19 Response Fund to assist testing at the state’s long-term care facilities.

Specifically, the request seeks funding to implement "mobile testing teams" made up of trained staff, mainly registered nurses, at those facilities.

"These mobile testing teams are just the first step to getting a handle on the situation for long term care COVID mitigation, and hopefully this changes the circumstances for our seniors and disabled citizens going forward," Sen. Karin Housley, R-St. Mary’s Point, said in a statement.

The funding would be used for the testing of both residents and staff at long-term care facilities, as well as for education and training surrounding personal protective equipment, and for emergency on-call staff needs if an existing staff member tests positive for COVID-19.

"We know the virus is especially dangerous for the elderly," Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, said in a statement. "Approving these funds is a no-brainer to prevent any more additional outbreaks and deaths in long term care centers."

Earlier this week, Gov. Tim Walz signed bipartisan-supported legislation extending the use of the remaining COVID-19 Response Fund through the end of the year. It had been set to expire May 11.

"Minnesota’s fund dedicated to our COVID-19 response has saved lives," Walz wrote in a tweet Wednesday. "I’m grateful for the (Minnesota Legislature’s) bipartisan effort to extend this resource so we can continue providing the testing, hospital beds, and PPE Minnesotans need to weather this pandemic."

Also this week, the Minnesota Senate passed legislation that would allow some small businesses to resume operations in a safe manner.

The bipartisan vote had the support of legislators from across the state.

Senate advances legislation that allows businesses to safely resume operations