Updates from our Virtual Health Office/ COVID Resources/ Newsletter
Please view the following site for our Virtual Health Office and the online Newsletter at Cityview!
These warming spaces throughout Hennepin County are available to all who need them.
Nurse Michelle's Newsletter- March 15, 2021
Jury selection began this week in the trial of former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin. As a reminder, the City has launched a website that includes up-to-date information on the Chauvin trial. This resource will be updated throughout the course of these court proceedings. Community members can also sign up to receive the City’s general newsletter here.
In addition, following confusion over how to get help last summer, City Council members have been advised that the following contacts are the best ones for community members to use if necessary during the coming weeks and months:
- For emergencies where someone’s safety is at risk that require an immediate response from police, firefights or medics, people should call 911.
- For reporting tips to MPD about any suspicious activity that doesn’t require an immediate response (such as a fast-moving car without license plates, or something unusual spotted in an alley), people should call 612-692-8477.
- For general questions from business and commercial property owners about preparations for the trial, operations during the trial and local regulations, people should call 612-673-2499 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gov. Tim Walz announced March 9 that Minnesota is expanding vaccine eligibility as the state reaches its goal of vaccinating 70% of Minnesotans 65 years of age and older. As a result, the this week state expanded eligibility to the next two phases of Minnesotans. Providers have been directed to prioritize people in the first of these phases, which includes Minnesotans with specific underlying health conditions, food processing plant workers, and Minnesotans with rare conditions or disabilities that put them at higher risk of severe illness. Providers will then have the flexibility to provide available appointments to other eligible Minnesotans.
Newly eligible Minnesotans include:
- Minnesotans with specific underlying health conditions: sickle cell disease; Down syndrome; those in cancer treatment or immunocompromised from organ transplants, oxygen-dependent chronic lung and heart conditions (COPD and CHF).
- Targeted essential workers: food processing plant workers.
- Minnesotans with rare conditions or disabilities that put them at higher risk of severe illness.
- Minnesotans age 45 years and older with one or more underlying medical conditions identified by the CDC.
- Minnesotans age 16 years and older with two or more underlying medical conditions.
- Minnesotans age 50 years and older in multi-generational housing.
- Essential frontline workers in agriculture, airport, child care (those not previously eligible), correctional settings, first response, food production, food retail, food service, judicial system, manufacturing, public health, public transit and the U.S. Postal Service.
If you have not yet been vaccinated, fill out a brief questionnaire on the state’s Vaccine Connector website to be alerted when they’re eligible to receive a vaccine and find vaccination opportunities. If you prefer to sign up over the phone or need translation services, call 833-431-2053. If you are eligible to get vaccinated, you do not have to wait for information from the Vaccine Connector before you get your shot. You can connect with your primary health care provider or use this map to find a vaccine appointment near you.
Information on free COVID-19 testing and resources to support individuals, families, and community organizations during the pandemic is included farther down this newsletter.
Low-income households in Minneapolis can apply now for assistance from Hennepin County that can help cover unpaid rent and utility bills. Applications for this program will be open through next Friday, March 19 at 12 p.m. Find more information and submit your application here. For help applying in a language other than English, call 612-348-6442.
Additional assistance is expected to become available later this month as part of a statewide COVID-19 emergency rent assistance program. I will share more information on this resource when it’s available. There is a list of other resources to help households during the pandemic included farther down in this newsletter.
Congresswoman Ilhan Omar will host a virtual event next week with local IRS representatives to explain what is new or different about filing taxes this year and answer questions about claiming missing stimulus payments, how unemployment income is taxes, who to contact for assistance, and more. This webinar will be held Thursday, March 18 at 6 p.m. Register to attend here. If you have specific questions, send them in advance to MN05.email@example.com.
Hennepin County Library is no longer imposing late fines for overdue materials, joining a growing number of libraries nationwide that are removing financial barriers to library service. Hennepin County leaders noted when they approved this change that fines disproportionately affect low-income people and communities of color. Eliminating these fines will reduce disparities and ensure our wonderful library system is more accessible to more people. In keeping with its new policy, the County has also reset all outstanding library card balances to $0.
Ending fines for overdue items doesn’t mean library materials are free to keep. Library patrons will be responsible for the replacement cost of lost or unreturned items. Items are considered unreturned 41 days after their due dates. Learn more about this change here.
Hennepin County has cloth masks and hand sanitizer available for organizations to distribute at no cost to people in the community and their employees. You can request these supplies – or a community COVID-19 testing event – using this form. After submitting a request, a Hennepin County representative will reach out via email with more information. It’s critical that we continue to wear masks and follow public health guidance, even as COVID-19 vaccinations ramp up. The CDC advises that even vaccinated people should continue to wear masks in public and avoid crowds as we wait for vaccines to become more widely available.
In addition, community organizations and groups can request a virtual presentation from City Health Department staff about the vaccine to ensure the folks they serve are getting up-to-date, accurate information about the vaccine. If you represent a community group, you can request a presentation here.
Whether you have symptoms or not, there are many free COVID-19 testing options available – no insurance required. Remember to quarantine until you’ve received your test results and isolate if you test positive. Regular testing is especially important as schools reopen. The state recommends people returning to school, sports or other extracurricular activities get tested every two weeks along with everyone who lives with them. I will continue to share this COVID-19 testing information in my newsletters and encourage you to share it with family, friends, and neighbors.
At-Home Saliva Testing
The state is offering free at-home COVID-19 saliva tests. You do not need to have symptoms in order to request a test, which must be taken during a video chat with a supervisor who makes sure the test is done properly. You then send the test to a lab which will test your saliva and email your results one to two days after they receive the sample. The saliva test is just as accurate as the nasal swab test and is available at no cost for every Minnesotan, and insurance is not required. Request your at-home COVID-19 test here. Results should be available within a day or two after the lab processes your test.
In-Person Saliva Testing
Free saliva testing is now available at a couple of locations that may be convenient for Ward 11 residents:
- The Minneapolis Convention Center (1301 2nd Ave S; enter on the west side of the building off 1st Avenue). Testing is available daily, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends. Walk-ins are welcome but folks are encouraged to make an appointment to prevent crowding and long lines. Free parking is available and marked in nearby surface lots and parking ramps.
- Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport, Terminal 1 (4300 Glumack Dr; signs will guide you from the inbound roadway to the clinic location itself, located in the lobby area on Level 2 of the Blue Ramp). Testing is available daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Walk-ins are welcome but folks are encouraged to make an appointment to prevent crowding and long lines. Parking validation is available. Learn more about saliva testing at the airport here.
Test results should be available within a day or two of your test.
Other Testing Options
To see more COVID-19 testing opportunities, check the City’s upcoming community testing events, Hennepin County’s upcoming community testing events and the state’s list of its upcoming testing events.
As COVID-19 puts additional strain on families and individuals, there are resources available to help. I will continue to share the following resources in each of my newsletters, and I encourage you to pass this information along to any family, friends, or neighbors who may can benefit from these programs.
Foreclosure Prevention Resources
The COVID-19 crisis continues to pose significant challenges for many in our community. If you or someone you know is struggling to meet your mortgage obligations, free assistance is available through the Minnesota Homeownership Center. A network of advisors can help you understand how to prevent foreclosure and connect you with resources to help during this challenging time. Learn more and find an advisor here.
Food Distribution and Meal Boxes
There are many places to get local, affordable, or free emergency food in Minneapolis this winter. Find information on food shelves and food distribution pop-ups here.
In addition, free meal boxes are available to all Minneapolis families with children ages 18 and younger. Similar to the free food box program Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) operated in the spring and summer, all families are welcome to participate at no cost – children do not need to be enrolled at an MPS school. Families can pick up one box per child per week. Each box contains five breakfasts and five lunches with fresh produce and whole grains. Milk is available upon request. Call 612-668-2820 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
For older folks, Twin Cities Meals on Wheels is now providing seven free meals per week to anyone age 50 or older experiencing difficulty in getting food. These freshly prepared, ready-to-eat meals are delivered to participants' doorsteps. This program is designed to serve individuals who are unable to pay full price for meals and do not qualify for other government programs that offset the cost of home-delivered meals. More information is available here.
Utility Bill Assistance
The Energy Assistance Program can help income-eligible folks past-due energy bills and repair or replace malfunctioning furnaces. The application period is open until May 31. Find details and application materials here.
In addition, both of our local utility providers -- Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy -- have suspended shutoffs for non-payment until further notice. In addition, both companies are working with customers to provide help where possible. Arrange a payment plan by contacting Xcel Energy at 800-895-4999 and/or CenterPoint Energy at 800-245-2377.
Help for Older Adults
The Metropolitan Area Agency on Aging put together a list of community-based services and resources for older adults and their caregivers to support daily living needs and safety at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can find more information here, or if you need additional assistance, you can call the Senior LinkAge Line – a free statewide help line for seniors and caregivers – at 1-800-333-2433.
COVID-19 Hotline for the Black Community
A fully staffed hotline to support Minnesota’s Black community through the pandemic is now available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Callers can get important information about virus testing sites, food security, physical and mental health, employment, housing, childcare, legal rights and other pandemic-related challenges. The hotline will also help callers looking for information and resources such as reusable cloth masks, hand sanitizer, and cleaning supplies. Call the hotline at 612-254-1145 with questions about COVID-19.
Spanish/English COVID-19 Hotline
Hispanic Advocacy and Community Empowerment through Research (HACER) is partnering with the Minnesota Department of Health to launch a COVID-19 hotline in Spanish and English. This statewide service provides accurate and culturally relevant information regarding COVID-19 to Latinx communities. Call 651-304-6145 for assistance in Spanish with questions or concerns about where to get tested, what to do while you wait for results, and how to manage if you're test is positive. Program coordinators and hotline specialists are trained to best understand the needs of the Latinx community around the state as they relate to COVID-19 and will offer resources provided by the Minnesota Department of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and local organizations.