Efforts to halt the spread of COVID-19 are creating immediate economic hardship for many working families.
Minnesota employers slashed payrolls after Gov. Tim Walz issued emergency orders temporarily shutting down restaurants, schools, movie theaters and other spaces where contagion was likely to occur.
As of last Friday, over 204,000 Minnesotans had applied for unemployment insurance benefits, flooding the state’s website with such a high volume of traffic that the agency today rolled out a new process limiting who can apply on certain days of the week based on Social Security number.
Unions, meanwhile, have been busy advocating for broad health and economic protections for workers during the pandemic response, while also scrambling to connect impacted members with support they need.
Twin Cities worker center CTUL, which advocates for people working in low-wage industries, has compiled a “Know Your Rights” list with information on access to safety equipment, earned sick time and other protections during the COVID-19 emergency.
The Saint Paul Labor Studies and Resource Center, the nonprofit arm of the St. Paul Regional Labor Federation, has compiled a evolving list of resources that may be available to help people make ends meet during the public-health crisis.
Unemployment Insurance can provide immediate, emergency relief for many workers impacted by COVID-19, including people who have been laid off or who have seen their hours reduced. Gov. Tim Walz moved quickly to streamline UI benefits during the crisis.
- Learn more about expanded access to Unemployment Insurance benefits during the COVID-19 response.
- The best way to apply for Unemployment Insurance benefits is online. Applications are accepted Sunday through Friday, from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m.
- The federal CARES Act will provide broad relief to American workers and employers during the crisis. The National Employment Law Project has produced a helpful fact sheet on who qualifies.
People seeking health insurance during the COVID-19 outbreak can shop for coverage on the state’s health exchange, MNsure.org.
- MNsure has created an emergency open enrollment period during the outbreak, through April 21. Find eligibility and other information here.
- Apply and enroll in a health plan here.
Greater Twin Cities United Way is a longstanding partner in the AFL-CIO Community Services program, and the nonprofit is stepping up to help working families during the COVID-19 response in several ways.
- United Way’s 211 hotline is staffed 24 hours each day by specialists ready to answer people’s questions and connect them to local resources. Just dial 211, or text the letters MNCOVID to 898-211.
- Click here to learn more about what Greater Twin Cities United Way and its 95 nonprofit partners are doing to assist the pandemic response.
- Greater Twin Cities United Way has launched the Twin Cities COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund dedicated to ensuring access to food, shelter, child care, sanitary supplies and financial assistance. To contribute, text GTCUWCOVID19 to 51555.
Evictions have been suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic, but resources remain are available to working people concerned about keeping their homes.
- HOME Line provides free legal assistance to qualified renters. For assistance, call 612-728-5767 or click here to email an attorney.
- The Minnesota Homeownership Center helps people buy and stay in their homes. Find a list of COVID-19 housing resources on its website. For assistance, call 651-659-9336 or click here to send an email.
- Find more information about housing supports during the COVID-19 response on Minnesota Housing’s website.
Financial assistance may be available through your county. Call to arrange an intake interview.
- In Ramsey County, call 651-266-4444.
- In Hennepin County, call 844-803-8466.
- Click here for information about applying for benefits in Chisago County.
- In Dakota County, call 651-554-5611.
- In Washington County, call 651-430-6459.
Xcel Energy has announced it will not disconnect any household’s utilities during the pandemic. Learn more about the company’s response here.
Some schools are giving students free meals while schools are closed due to the COVID-19 virus.
- Click here for information on the Saint Paul Public Schools’ meal program, or check with your local school district for more information.
- Hunger Impact Partners is helping Minnesota families secure meals for children. Click here for more information.
Student loan borrowers may be able to suspend payments during the pandemic response. Click here for more information.
The American Red Cross has a “critical need” for blood donors right now. To schedule an appointment call 651-291-6789, or click here to find a drive.
Be on the lookout for scams! Here’s a list of tips from the Federal Trade Commission on how to avoid scams related to the coronavirus.