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Walz urges Legislature to replenish, extend COVID-19 Minnesota Fund

FILE Photo: KSTP-TV. FILE

KSTP
Updated: May 08, 2020 02:27 PM
Created: May 08, 2020 02:26 PM

Friday, Governor Tim Walz called on the Minnesota Legislature to replenish and extend the Minnesota COVID-19 Fund.

Walz signed the $200 million fund into law on March 19 to provide resources to protect Minnesotans from COVID-19 and maintain state operations during the crisis but the fund is down to $65 million remaining and is set to expire May 11.

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"The COVID-19 fund is saving lives by increasing our testing capacity, ensuring we have enough hospital beds for every Minnesotan who needs care, and purchasing much-needed personal protective equipment," said Walz. "Minnesota has made progress, but this is a winter, not a blizzard. The House of Representatives took a good first step today by extending the expiration date, but the need for more funding remains. I look forward to working with the Legislature to extend the fund until June 30, 2021 and replenish the fund so Minnesotans can continue to get the resources they need to weather this pandemic."

The $135 million used from the fund has been used to buy tests and testing materials, prepare alternative care sites for an expected surge in hospitalizations, and procure personal protective equipment and hospital equipment, such as masks, gloves and ventilators.

Walz's office said the fund allows the state to quickly buy needed items to help fight the spread of the virus.

KSTP's Full COVID-19 Coverage

Most of the expenditures are expected to be reimbursed through federal funding, according to Walz's office.

Walz said Minnesota's hospitals and long-term care facilities are projected to need an additional $63 million in PPE and supplies in the next four months alone.

"As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to grow and evolve, so too must our response," added Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan. "By replenishing and extending the COVID-19 fund, we can continue to access the resources we need to save lives, support our most vulnerable, and weather this storm together." 

Minnesota Management and Budget Commissioner Myron Frans may authorize expenditures of $1 million or less with approval from the Commissioner of Health and the Governor's Chief of Staff. An expenditure request in excess of $1 million must be submitted to the Legislative COVID-19 Response Commission for review and recommendation before it can be authorized. That commission includes Senator Jeremy Miller, Speaker Melissa Hortman, Senator Paul Gazelka, Rep. Ryan Winkler, Senator Susan Kent, Rep. Kurt Daudt, Senator Julie Rosen, Rep. Lynden Carlson, Senator Richard Cohen, and Rep. Pat Garofalo.

More information about the fund is online here.

The fund balance is updated daily on Minnesota's COVID-19 dashboard here.


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