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Gov. Walz requests federal COVID-19 disaster relief for Minnesota

A letter to President Trump says the state has "allocated all available resources" to fight pandemic.

FSA Coronavirus local

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz sent a letter to President Donald Trump on Sunday requesting a major disaster declaration that would unlock further emergency protective measures, including direct federal assistance, to combat the spread of COVID-19.

The funding would help mitigate the pandemic’s impact on public health, state resources, unemployment, and community infrastructure such as health care facilities, the Governor's Office said in a news release.

“The State of Minnesota responded quickly to this public health disaster and continues to do so to the fullest extent possible,” Walz wrote in the letter. He added that without federal assistance, “the state’s ability to respond to and recover from this event will be severely impacted.”

Under a disaster declaration, reimbursable activities typically include activation of an emergency operations center, National Guard costs, law enforcement, mental health support, the Governor's Office said.

U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., and Tina Smith, D-Minn., and Representatives Angie Craig, D-MN02, Dean Phillips, D-MN03, Betty McCollum, D-MN04, Ilhan Omar, D-MN05, Tom Emmer, R-MN06, and Pete Stauber, R-MN08, urged the Trump Administration to approve Minnesota’s request for a major disaster declaration due to the ongoing spread of coronavirus.


“All of Minnesota’s 87 counties and 11 tribes have been affected by the spread of the pandemic,” the lawmakers wrote in a separate letter to Trump. “Minnesota’s health care facilities are confronting a lack of needed supplies and limited capacity, which will be exacerbated by a limited number of qualified medical staff that is expected to decrease further as the pandemic continues to spread."

Walz declared a peacetime emergency in Minnesota on March 13, and a day later the president declared a nationwide emergency due to COVID-19.

Walz previously signed a COVID-19 agreement with the Federal Emergency Management Agency, permitting FEMA to provide Minnesota with federal emergency relief funds. Sunday's request of FEMA is intended to unlock individual assistance programs for the state.

The letter requests funding to support crisis counseling, supplemental nutrition programs, medical assistance, funeral assistance, legal services, and statewide hazard mitigation.

The governor's letter cites scores of resources and state agencies being accessed to fight the pandemic, in addition to updated illness data, and the 297,397 applications for unemployment insurance processed to date by the Minnesota Department of Economic Development.

"Minnesota has allocated all available resources to the effort to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and is directly supporting local response efforts, while experiencing significant impact to the economy," the letter to the president said.

Gov. Tim Walz speaks Thursday, March 12, as the threat of a COVID-19 outbreak in Minnesota looms. Sarah Mearhoff / Forum News Service

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