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We are updating this guide regularly, but please consult the state's Coronavirus Disease in Minnesota website or the Minnesota Department of Health's Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) webpage for the most current COVID-19 status updates.                      

Minnesota Issues Resource Guides

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Legislative History   Books and Reports   Articles   Internet Resources   Additional Library Resources

This guide is compiled by staff at the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library on a topic of interest to Minnesota legislators. It is designed to provide an introduction to the topic, directing the user to a variety of sources, and is not intended to be exhaustive.

A novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, was first detected in China in late 2019 and the coronavirus disease, COVID-19, rapidly spread through most countries of the world in the first months of 2020. The World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared it a pandemic on March 11, 2020. President Donald Trump declared a national emergency on March 13, 2020.

On April 7, 2020 President Donald Trump issued a disaster declaration for Minnesota. Governor Tim Walz had asked Trump to issue the declaration to allow federal funds to flow to the state to help combat the coronavirus outbreak. The money will be used for crisis counseling, supplemental nutrition programs, medical assistance, funeral aid and other needs. Minnesota's congressional delegation had urged the Trump administration to approve the request.

The three branches of Minnesota state government continue to actively respond to this evolving situation. The website, Coronavirus Disease in Minnesota, provides the latest information on COVID-19 including a Public Dashboard of current data. An additional feature is Minnesota's COVID-19 Response and Preparation Capacity, an overview of the data tracked by the Governor’s COVID response team. 

Minnesota Executive Branch 

With the issuance of Executive Order 20-01 on March 13, 2020, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz declared a peacetime state of emergency. He directed all Minnesota state agencies to submit proposed orders and rules to protect and preserve public health and safety. (Extended an additional 30 days on April 13, 2020, by Executive Order 20-35).

On March 15, 2020 Governor Tim Walz announced emergency Executive Order 20-02, authorizing and directing the Commissioner of Education to temporarily close schools through March 27, 2020 to plan for a safe educational environment. Under Minnesota Statutes 2019, section 12.21, subdivision 3, he is permitted to authorize the Commissioner of Education "to alter school schedules, curtail school activities, or order schools closed." Executive Order 20-19, issued on March 25, 2020, established a Distance Learning Period beginning on March 30, 2020 through May 4, 2020. During that period school buildings were closed. (Extended through the end of the 2019-2020 school calendar year on April 23, 2020 by Executive Order 20-41).

Following the Minnesota Department of Public Health’s announcement on March 16, 2020 that the number of COVID-19 cases in Minnesota had climbed past 50, with multiple cases of community transmission, Governor Tim Walz signed three executive orders. Emergency Executive Order 20-03 protecting residents of Minnesota veteran's homes during the COVID-19 peacetime emergency, as well as Executive Order 20-04 to order the temporary closure of Minnesota restaurants and bars to dine-in customers. Affected businesses were to close by 5:00 pm on Tuesday, March 17. Delivery and curbside take-out services were permitted with community mitigation strategies in place. Governor Walz also ordered the temporary closure of other places of public accommodation and amusement including theaters, museums, fitness centers, and community clubs.

Executive Order 20-05 was also signed on March 16, 2020. This Executive Order strengthens Minnesota’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund (Minnesota Statutes 268.194) and ensures that workers who are not able to work as a result of COVID-19 have benefits available. The order waives the employer surcharge and allows the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development to pay unemployment benefits immediately, providing fast relief to employees who need it.

On March 25, 2020, Governor Walz issued Executive Order 20-20, which directed Minnesotans to stay at home, except for essential services, for two weeks beginning at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, March 27. Governor Walz's COVID-19 website, launched on March 27th, provides resources as well as answers to frequently asked questions about the stay at home order.

The governor's State of the State Address, delivered on Sunday evening, April 5, 2020, focused on the state's response to COVID-19 and was presented under unique circumstances. Governor Walz spoke to Minnesotans live from the governor's mansion in St. Paul where he was self-quarantined after a staff member had been diagnosed with Coronavirus Disease.

On April 8, 2020, the governor issued Executive Order 20-33, extending the stay-at-home order through Sunday, May 3, 2020. The stay at home order directs Minnesotans to limit movements outside of their homes beyond essential needs and is separate from the peacetime emergency declaration. On April 13, 2020, Governor Walz issued Executive Order 20-35 extending Minnesota's COVID-19 peacetime emergency for 30 days.

Governor Tim Walz announced Thursday, April 16, that he would join a bipartisan group of seven Midwestern governors to coordinate the reopening of their state economies in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The agreement includes Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Kentucky. The governors said they will focus on at least four factors in determining the ideal time to reopen their states' economies: sustained control of new infection and hospitalization rates, enhanced testing and tracing capabilities, adequate health care capacity to respond to a resurgence and best workplace social distancing techniques. The Midwestern alliance joins similar pacts on the West Coast and in the Northeast that were announced earlier this week.

As part of efforts to outline next steps for COVID-19 response in Minnesota, on April 23, 2020, Governor Walz extended distance learning through the end of the school year, announced a plan for up to 100,000 workers to return to their jobs starting Monday, April 27, and explained the different factors determining the gradual re-opening of society in Minnesota. The previous day, his administration had announced a statewide strategy for widespread testing.

On April 30, 2020, Governor Walz announced Minnesota's Stay at Home Order that was due to expire on Monday, May 4 would be extended for at least two weeks to May 18, 2020. Executive Order 20-48 provides new flexibility allowing some retailers to reopen with curbside pickup or delivery for customers.

May 13, 2020 was a busy day for Gov. Walz who issued four new executive orders as his administration continued to focus on reopening Minnesota's economy. Executive Order 20-53 extended the peacetime emergency powers of the governor through June 12, 2020, unless rescinded by the Legislature before that date. Also issued were Executive Order, 20-54, protecting workers from unsafe working conditions and retaliation, and Executive Order 20-55, protecting the rights and health of at-risk populations.

The safe reopening of additional places of employment and the safe expansion of non-work activities were the focus of the governor’s final May 13th order, Executive Order 20-56. Effective May 17, 2020 at 11:59 pm and remaining in effect through May 31, 2020, the order required continued work from home whenever possible but allowed additional "non-essential" businesses to open once they have met guidelines and requirements for social distancing, hygiene, and public health best practices. The order extended the temporary closure of bars, restaurants, and other places of public accommodation through May 31, 2020. A phased plan to achieve the limited and safe reopening of those businesses is scheduled to begin on June 1, 2020; that plan will be released no later than May 20, 2020.  The executive order also provided new guidance on outdoor recreational activities and the businesses that support them. While Minnesotans were still asked to stay close to home, the order allowed for social gatherings of up to 10 people. The governor strongly recommended that those at risk of severe illness from COVID-19 continue to stay home and encouraged everyone to wear a mask in public settings.

Executive Order 20-63 implements Phase II of the Stay Safe MN Plan. Phase II outlines a cautious plan for restaurants and bars to start reopening for outdoor dining beginning June 1, 2020, with safety measures in place and capacity limits. Personal services like salons and barbershops can also open on June 1 at 25 percent capacity with safety measures in place.

For more information on formal actions by Governor Walz, please see the Legislative Library's complete list of Executive Orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Minnesota Legislative Branch

On March 16, 2020, the House introduced HC3, a House concurrent resolution relating to adjournment of the House of Representatives and Senate, until the public interest warrants it. It reads in part: "Upon adjournment on March 16, 2020, the House of Representatives and the Senate may set the next day of meeting for 12:00 noon on April 14, 2020, or may stand adjourned until 12:00 noon on the second day after members of the House of Representatives and the Senate are notified to assemble pursuant to section 2, whichever is earlier." Details about how the COVID-19 response will affect the Legislative process continue to unfold.

Minnesota lawmakers returned to the State Capitol on Thursday, March 26 to approve HF4531*/SF4451​, a $330 million COVID-19 emergency response bill. The bill included a $200 million General Fund appropriation to create a COVID-19 Fund to help state agencies respond to the outbreak, as well as funding for child-care providers, homeless shelters, and food banks. Additionally, a Legislative COVID-19 Response Commission, made up of legislative leaders, and chairs and ranking members of House and Senate finance committees, would be created to review expenditures from the fund greater than $1 million. The bill passed 99-4 in the House and 67-0 in the Senate Thursday. Laws of Minnesota 2020, chapter 71 was signed by Governor Walz on March 28, 2020.

The Legislature met in session on April 7, 2020 and passed HF4537*/SF4458. It modified workers' compensation provisions for several categories of workers, including first responders and health care providers, who contract COVID-19. Laws of Minnesota 2020, chapter 72, was signed by Governor Walz that same day.

The Minnesota Legislature met next on April 14, 2020 to approve a fourth round of COVID-19 legislation (HF4556*/SF4462). Laws of Minnesota 2020, chapter 74, is more policy centered and designed to help various levels of state government and society adjust to the pandemic. Included are extended deadlines for court filings, teleworking for local government workers and the ability for Minnesotans to apply for a marriage license remotely. Governor Walz signed the legislation on Wednesday, April 15, 2020. 

In mid-April the Legislature resumed more regular and frequent committee hearings and floor sessions. Committee hearings were primarily held remotely, under newly adopted rules (see House Rule 10.01 and Senate Resolution 229). Floor session processes were also modified in keeping with safe workplace and social distancing guidelines from the Minnesota Department of Health and the CDC. On May 4, 2020 legislative leaders issued a letter asking chairs to finalize agreements on legislation by May 9, 2020.

In the final weeks of the 2020 legislative session, both the Senate and House overwhelmingly approved a bill (HF 3429) that outlines procedures for the upcoming 2020 state primary and general election during the pandemic. The law gives new authority to cities for handling upcoming elections, such as allowing for the processing of absentee ballots 14 days before the election instead of seven, and up to three days following the election. Laws of Minnesota, chapter 77 was signed by Governor Walz on May 12. The new law, which took effect on May 13, also appropriates federal money made available to the state through the Help America Vote Act (HAVA).

The 2020 regular session ended on May 18 as the House and Senate each adjourned sine die. Work still needing the attention of legislators includes the oversight of federal coronavirus relief funds. If Governor Walz opts to extend his emergency powers in June, it would trigger a special session which many members anticipate would be June 12.

The House of Representatives COVID-19 legislative action page and the Senate COVID-19 legislative information page provide regular updates on legislative action. Further information is published in Session Daily, a nonpartisan news service from the House Public Information Office.

Minnesota Judicial Branch

Minnesota courts and federal courts with jurisdiction in Minnesota are making modifications to their calendars and procedures due to COVID-19. 

On March 20, 2020, Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court Lorie S. Gildea issued statewide order, ADM20-8001, "Continuing Operations of the Courts of the State of Minnesota Under a Statewide Peacetime Declaration of Emergency." The order restricts in-person access to courthouses for only specific, designated case types and opens up additional opportunities for remote hearings that must occur during the COVID-19 pandemic. The order went into effect on Monday, March 23, 2020, and was to remain in effect for the next 30 days or until the issuance of another order. In response to the evolving situation, the order was updated on March 23, 2020. The order was further updated on March 26, 2020 in response to the "stay-at-home" Executive Order 20-20 issued by Governor Tim Walz on March 25, 2020. 

Following Governor Tim Walz’s extension of his Stay at Home Order, Emergency Executive Order 20-33, Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie S. Gildea issued a new statewide order on April 9, 2020, which superseded all prior orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The order was effective immediately and ran until May 4, 2020. It maintained certain provisions from the prior orders, including restrictions for in-courtroom hearings; requiring hearings by remote technology for all other case types and hearings; and allowing for certain fine and fee due dates to be delayed by 60 days.

Chief Justice Gildea's May 1 Administrative Order extended the limited physical access to courthouses until May 18, 2020, in order to reduce and slow the spread of COVID-19.

On May 15, 2020, Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie Gildea issued an order in response to Governor Walz’s May 13, 2020 decision to permit the stay-at-home directive to expire and to permit certain activities when Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) guidance may be followed. The order includes details of the planned and gradual approach to increasing the number and type of in-person proceedings held in court facilities.

Please see this COVID-19 Information web page from the Minnesota Judicial Branch for the most up to date information on courthouse activities.

Legislative History

Key Minnesota Statutes

Recent Legislative Action

The following summarizes selected laws only. View all laws passed during this period.

  • Laws of Minnesota 2020, chapter 66 (SF3813) was signed into law on March 10, 2020 and allows for the transferring of funds for public health response planning and preparation for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19); appropriating federal funds.
  • Laws of Minnesota 2020, chapter 68 (SF3564) transfers $30,000,000 from the general fund to the commissioner of Public Safety for deposit in the disaster assistance contingency account.
  • Laws of Minnesota 2020, chapter 70 (SF4334) was signed into law on March 17, 2020 allocating $200 million toward an emergency and long-term grant program to respond to the needs of health care and long-term care facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Laws of Minnesota 2020, chapter 71 (HF4531) was signed into law on March 28, 2020 and establishes a COVID-19 Minnesota fund as well as a Legislative COVID-19 Response Commission and appropriates money for COVID-19 response efforts.
  • Laws of Minnesota 2020, chapter 72 (HF4537) was signed into law on April 7, 2020 providing a presumption for COVID-19 workers' compensation claims for certain employees and authorizing extension of the implementation date of the CAMPUS system.
  • Laws of Minnesota 2020, chapter 74 (HF4556) modifies deadlines, requirements for in-person appearances, state programs, and other statutory requirements in response to an outbreak of COVID-19 in Minnesota, and also makes human services forecast adjustments.
  • Laws of Minnesota 2020, chapter 77 (HF3429) provides special procedures for the safe and secure conduct of the 2020 state primary and state general elections; appropriates money for various election-related purposes; authorizes local grants; transfers and appropriates money for purposes of the Help America Vote Act, the federal CARES Act, and the federal Consolidated Appropriations Act.
  • Laws of Minnesota 2020, chapter 81 (HF1883) extends the COVID-19 Minnesota fund. 
  • Laws of Minnesota 2020, chapter 92 (HF4605) authorizes counties, cities, and townships to accept documents and signatures electronically, by mail, or facsimile during a peacetime public health emergency.
  • Laws of Minnesota 2020, chapter 101 (HF4490) provides supplemental agriculture-related appropriations for various agriculture-related purposes including appropriations for COVID-19 response efforts.
  • Laws of Minnesota 2020, chapter 116 (HF4415) provides for school closures and other amendments due to COVID-19; clarifies the calculation of certain school aids formulas due to COVID-19.

Significant Articles

(articles in reverse chronological order)

Cook, Mike. "As Session Ends, Legislature Leaves Much Unresolved — But Leaders Say That Could Yet Change." Session Daily, May 18, 2020.

Bierschbach, Briana. "Gov. Tim Walz Says Minnesota's Reopening Followed Preparation, Not Political Pressure." Star Tribune, May 15, 2020.

Callaghan, Peter. "The Minnesota Legislature Really Wants a Say in How the State Distributes Federal COVID-19 Money — Even if Walz Doesn’t Have to Listen." MinnPost, May 14, 2020.

Bakst, Brian. "May 13 Update on COVID-19 in MN: Walz Ending Stay-Home Order, Keeping Dine-Out Ban." MPR News, May 13, 2020.

Callaghan, Peter. "What to Expect from the Last Two Weeks of Minnesota’s 2020 Legislature." MinnPost, May 5, 2020.

Olson, Jeremy. "Minnesotans to Get Two More Weeks of Stay-at-Home, but With New Flexibility." Star Tribune, May 1, 2020.

Brooks, Jennifer. "In a Minnesota Legislature on Lockdown, State Capitol Gets Used to a New Normal." Star Tribune, May 1, 2020.

Callaghan, Peter. "COVID-19 Has Even Changed the Way the Minnesota Legislature Appropriates Money." MinnPost, April 21, 2020.

Orenstein, Walker and Peter Callaghan. "How the Walz Administration is Developing its Plans for Restarting Minnesota’s Economy." MinnPost, April 17, 2020.

Bakst, Brian. "Where Does Walz Get that Executive Power for COVID-19 Actions?" MPR News, April 16, 2020.

Bakst, Brian. "As Unity Wanes, Minnesota Lawmakers Advance New COVID-19 Bill." MPR News, April 14, 2020. 

Olson, Jeremy and Glenn Howatt. "Gov. Tim Walz Extends Minnesota's Stay-at-Home Order to May 4." Star Tribune, April 9, 2020.

Callaghan, Peter. "Legislature Passes Law Expanding Workers Comp for First Responders Contracting COVID-19." MinnPost, April 8, 2020.

Smith, Mary Lynn. "Minnesotans Adjust to a New Way of Life: Wearing Masks in Public." Star Tribune, April 4, 2020.

Olson, Jeremy. "Disease Data Modeling, in Minnesota and Elsewhere, Varies Greatly." Star Tribune, April 2, 2020.

"Gildea Issues Stay-at-Home Order." Minnesota Lawyer, March 27, 2020. 

Victoria, Cooney, "House Lawmakers OK $330 Million in Measures Taking Aim at Pandemic's Impact." Session Daily, March 26, 2020.

Callaghan, Peter. "Minnesota Lawmakers to Convene Thursday to Pass COVID-19 Response Bill — After Working for a Week Outside the Public Eye. MinnPost, March 24, 2020. 

Callaghan, Peter. "How Well is Minnesota State Government Prepared to Weather a COVID-19 Recession?" MinnPost, March 20, 2020. 

Xiong, Chao. "Minnesota Courts Chief Asks State Lawmakers to Intervene to Help Postpone Functions." Star Tribune, March 20, 2020. 

Kats, Rachel. "COVID-19: What's Been Done, is Being Done and Could be Done by House." Session Daily, March 18, 2020.

Cooney, Victoria. "House, Senate Pass $200 Million for Health Care Providers in Fight Against COVID-19." Session Daily, March 17, 2020.

DeLong, Matt and C.J. Sinner. "Tracking Coronavirus in Minnesota." Star Tribune, March 16, 2020. [Updated daily]

Sherman, Mark. "Supreme Court Postpones Arguments Because of Virus Outbreak." Star Tribune, March 16, 2020. 

Cook, Mike. "Precaution: Legislature to be ‘On-call’ for Four Weeks." Session Daily, March 15, 2020. 

Orrick, David. "MN Gov. Walz Declares State of Emergency." Pioneer Press, March 13, 2020.

Taylor, Andrew, et al. "Trump Declares Virus Pandemic a National Emergency." Star Tribune, March 13, 2020.

Bakst, Brian. "Minnesota Leaders Dust Off State Quarantine Law as Covid-19 Spreads." MPR News, March 12, 2020.

Coolican, J. Patrick. "What are the Governor’s Emergency Powers? Can He Really Tell Us Not to Gather?." Minnesota Reformer, March 12, 2020.

Significant Books and Reports

Bonelli, Anna. The Minnesota Emergency Health Powers Act. Minnesota House of Representatives Research Department, July 2004. (RA645.6.M6 B66 2004)

Cole, Jared. Federal and State Quarantine and Isolation Authority. Congressional Research Service, October 9, 2014.

COVID-19 Minnesota Fund Expenditure Report. Minnesota Management and Budget, 2020. (RA643.6.M6 C68)

Disaster Assistance Contingency Account Report. Minnesota Management and Budget, 2019. (HV555.U62 M67)

Hauer, Jody and Kirchner, David, et al. Helping Communities Recover from Natural Disasters: Evaluation Report. Program Evaluation Division, Office of the Legislative Auditor, 2012. (HV555.U62 M63 2012)

Minnesota State Hazard Mitigation Plan Including Recommended Actions for Climate Change AdaptationMinnesota Dept. of Public Safety, Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, 2019. (HV551.4.M6 M56 2019)

Public Health Response Account: Update and Expenditures. Minnesota Department of Health, January 2019. (RA643.6.M6 P83 2018)

Punelli, Danyell. Basics of Emergency General Assistance. Minnesota House of Representatives Research Department, December 2019. (HN79.M6 S56 2019)

Schill, Katherine. Fiscal Implications for Reauthorizing the Emergency Health Powers Act (HF 2436). Minnesota House of Representatives Fiscal Analysis Department, 2004. (RA645.6.M6 S35 2004)

SCRFA Review of 2020 Executive Orders Related to the COVID-19 Peacetime Emergency. Minnesota Senate Counsel, Research, and Fiscal Analysis, 2020. 

State of Minnesota Continuity of Operations Plans. Office of the Legislative Auditor, State of Minnesota, May 7, 2008. (HJ9865.A27 no. 08-07)

Walz, Tim. State of the State Address. St. Paul, April 5, 2020. (J87 .M62 2020 Apr. 5)

Significant Internet Resources

Minnesota:

Coronavirus Disease in Minnesota -- The State of Minnesota's website; it provides the latest information on the state's response to COVID-19. The interactive COVID-19 testing site gives advice on what to do if you're sick and where you can go to get tested.

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Guidance for All Minnesotans -- Minnesota Department of Health

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) -- Recommendations and resources from the Minnesota Management and Budget Office. MMB also provides information on the COVID-19 Minnesota Fund created in the state treasury to pay expenditures related to the peacetime emergency declared by Governor Walz in Executive Order 20-01.

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and Unemployment Benefits -- Minnesota Unemployment Insurance Office, Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

COVID-19 Legislative Activity -- Minnesota House Research Department

COVID-19 Updates -- Minnesota Department of Education

COVID-19 Response and Preparation -- Office of the Minnesota Governor. View COVID-19 announcements and press conferences on the governor's YouTube page.

Legal Impacts of COVID-19 -- A Minnesota State Law Library research guide

Legislative COVID-19 Response Commission (LCRC) -- Established to review expenditures from the COVID-19 Minnesota fund.

Minnesota Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division -- A division of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.

Minnesota Executive Council -- The Executive Council is made up of the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, state auditor, and attorney general. 

Minnesota Executive Orders -- The Minnesota Legislative Reference Library's database of Executive Orders from 1967 to the present.

Minnesota's COVID-19 Response and Preparation Capacity -- An overview of the data tracked by the Governor’s COVID response team.

Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Center -- Center for Infectious Disease Research (CIDRAP), University of Minnesota.

Updates Related to COVID-19 -- Resources and an FAQ related to COVID-19 for employers and employees from the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry.

Other:

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) -- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Coronavirus Resources -- The National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO) compiles information from the National Governor's Association (NGA), NCSL, federal agencies, as well as state emergency declarations and news articles highlighting state responses.

State Action on Coronavirus (COVID-19)  --  Information from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL); see also Legislative Sessions and the Coronavirus and COVID-19 Daily Announcements From Federal Agencies.

U.S. Government Response to Coronavirus, COVID-19.

World Health Organization (WHO): Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Outbreak.

Additional Library Resources

For historical information, check the following codes in the Newspaper Clipping File and the Vertical File:
H 8.4 (Health Care - Diseases and Sicknesses); L60.96A (Legislature - Security); M68 (Minnesota Departments & Agencies - Health Department)

For additional reports at the Legislative Reference Library, use these Library catalog searches:

Emergency Management -- Minnesota -- Planning

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