Last week, the Minnesota Legislature voted unanimously in the House and Senate to approve emergency funding for the Department of Health to continue their response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The bill included protections for taxpayers that would require money to be paid back to the general fund if it goes unspent.

This week, the legislature took quick action on additional steps to ensure our state and health care system can respond as quickly and effectively as possible — Minnesotans should have confidence that legislators, the governor, and state agencies are working closely based on the expert recommendations of the Minnesota Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control.

As this situation unfolds, social media could be rife with misinformation so please continue to rely only on information from trusted sources. Your best sources for up-to-date information are the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) websites.

I will continue working to represent the citizens of our community, even as the Minnesota House’s daily operations have been altered amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

The House formally will remain in session as the state addresses the pressing public health issue surrounding COVID-19, with meetings and floor sessions taking place on an on-call basis until April 14.

The alternate means of working will allow the House to respond to the needs of Minnesotans, while also fully complying with Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) guidelines including social distancing, limiting large gatherings, telework, and increased cleaning measures necessitated by COVID-19.

This is an unprecedented situation and it is important, as legislators, to maintain strong lines of communication with the people we represent. Public safety is our government’s top responsibility and the steps and procedures put in place allow us to uphold that priority. We will continue working to assist constituents back in our respective districts while remaining available to come to St. Paul on a moment’s notice to conduct legislative action as necessary

Minnesota Health Department hotlines are available to assist Minnesotans, including a public line (651) 201-3920 and a line for questions specifically related to schools and/or childcare (651) 297-1304. Several online resources also are available to help individuals stay up to date:

- MDH’s COVID-19 page: https://www.health.state.mn.us/diseases/coronavirus/index.html

- Mayo Clinic’s COVID-19 page: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/symptoms-causes/syc-20479963

- CDC COVID-19 page: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html

Please continue to stay in touch to share your thoughts and ideas on issues important to you. You can call my office and leave a voicemail (651) 296-7065, we will be responding to all constituent voicemails during this change in operations; or, even better, share your thoughts via email by emailing me at rep.bob.vogel@house.mn.

Be smart and stay safe.

Rep. Bob Vogel represents House District 20A, which includes Le Sueur, Le Center, Cleveland and other parts of Le Sueur County in the Minnesota Legislature.

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