A one-stop spot for coronavirus information, updates, (and the TP thing)

Mar 17, 2020

Credit Helena Lopes/Unsplash

Social media may be a great way to keep connected if you find yourself in the midst of an unplanned "staycation," but it's not always the best place to find facts.

Not only is KUMD spinning the best tunes to keep you company, we've assembled the best local and national links to keep you up to date on the coronavirus situation on a city, state and country-wide level.

UPDATES:

3/18/20

St. Louis County declares local state of emergency, announces two-day closure of county buildings

Animal Allies Humane Society restricts access to scheduled adoption/surrender appointments

Duluth Transit Authority

FREE fares now in place:

The DTA is offering free bus service with no fares beginning Wednesday March 18th.  Fares will not be charged on any of our routes (including STRIDE Paratransit) until otherwise indicated.  This is in an effort to limit personal distancing and contact with surfaces in our vehicles.

Effective Wednesday, March 18th, the DTA will implement service reductions in response to the Coronavirus (Covid-19). This response addresses the initial impacts this public health emergency is having on ridership.

To address the operational challenges facing our organization and many in our community, the following routes will be modified until further notice:

Route 4 – Cancelled

Route 5 – Cancelled

Route 15 (On Demand only trips available by calling 218-722-7283)

Route 24 –  Just Saturdays Cancelled

Route 25 (DuLooper) – Cancelled

Routes 18 and 23 – Cancelled

Essentia Health is postponing all routine appointments and elective procedures for two weeks, beginning Wednesday, March 18.

The decision affects appointments and elective procedures scheduled at any Essentia hospital or clinic from March 18 to April 1. Decisions about appointments and procedures after April 1 will be made later.

Boys & Girls Clubs of the Northland

At present the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Northland sites will be closed the following days

  • Dave Goldberg Branch – Closing today – Tuesday, March 17 starting at 5:00 pm – Friday, March 27
  • Lincoln Park Branch – Closed Wednesday, March 18 – Friday, March 27
  • Superior Branch – Closed Wednesday, March 18 – Friday, March 27
  • Grand Rapids and Greenway Branches - Closed Wednesday, March 18 – Friday, March 27

International Wolf Center

Free educational programming begins this week with a weekly webinar focused on the Center’s Exhibit Pack of wolves planned for 9 a.m. every Friday. This free weekly program will be ongoing for the foreseeable future.

The Center maintains a pack of ambassador wolves at the interpretive center in Ely, Minnesota that are used to teach the public. For many years, people who cannot get to the Center have been able to look in on the wolves thanks to live webcams that broadcast seven days a week along with occasional fee based webinars.

The new webinars the Center is offering for free starting Friday will provide updates about the ambassador wolves from Wolf Care staff and allow viewers to ask questions live. They will be held every Friday at 9 a.m. Central Time. Links to each week’s webinar will be posted on wolf.org, the Center’s social media channels and to those who subscribe to email updates at https://wolf.org/subscribe/.

The link for the first webinar is https://zoom.us/j/259295035. A free download of Zoom software is required to watch these webinars

Additional online programming and resources are being developed. More information on that programming will be posted as it becomes available.

Duluth City Council

[Duluth, MN]  The Duluth City Council will be holding its March 19, 2020 Agenda Session and March 23, 2020 Committee and City Council Meeting by telephone or other electronic means pursuant to Minnesota Statutes Section 13D.021 in response to the COVID-19 emergency.  Some members of the City Council may participate by conference call.   Due to the COVID-19 emergency and the closure of City facilities, City Hall is closed to public and media access. Public comment will not be taken at the meeting.  However, public comment on agenda items is encouraged by submitting written comment to council@duluthmn.govprior to the meeting. Please include “Council Agenda” in the subject line, your name and address and the agenda item you are speaking to.  Please note that all public comment is considered Public Data.  The public is encouraged to watch both meetings online at https://duluthmn.gov/city-council/ or by tuning into Public Access Television, Channel 180.

Updates from Minnesota Governor Tim Walz

Governor Tim Walz today signed Ch. 70 S.F. 4334 into law, 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.

“Our health care facilities are Minnesota’s first line of defense against COVID-19,” Governor Walz said. “I am proud of this urgent, bipartisan action to support our state’s health care infrastructure during this unprecedented public health event.”

The bill appropriates $50 million to the state’s public health response contingency account and $150 million to create a health care response fund which would be used to distribute grants. Any funds still in the account on February 1, 2021 will be returned to the General Fund.

The Minnesota Department of Health today announced that the number of COVID-19 cases in Minnesota has risen to 60, including cases of community transmission with no known travel link. Governor Walz yesterday announced the temporary closure of Minnesota restaurants and bars to dine-in customers as well as the closure of other places of public accommodation and amusement.

After encouraging Minnesota companies to take action to support workers affected by COVID-19, Governor Walz also signed Executive Order 20-07 providing paid leave for state employees who are not able to work for reasons related to COVID-19 and suspended the waiting period for insurance coverage for new employees. He also provided more flexibility for the Commissioner of Management and Budget to respond the evolving COVID-19 situation.  

Also today, Governor Walz signed Executive Order 20-06 to exempt vehicles and drivers providing direct assistance for emergency relief efforts in response to COVID-19 from certain regulations including provisions on weight and hours of service.

Governor Walz also signed Executive Order 20-05 yesterday to ensure Minnesotans who are not able to work due to COVID-19 have access to Unemployment Insurance. Minnesotans looking for more information on Unemployment Insurance can find it at the Department of Employment and Economic Development website here, and sign up here

Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation

The Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation

You can contact them between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays by calling 218-726-0232 or emailing staff members individually. If you have general inquiries, you can email info@dsacommunityfoundation.com.

All of us are concerned about the well-being of our community and the challenges our nation faces because of coronavirus and COVID-19. We are working with our partners and have established a fund that will focus on local coronavirus issues and the implications for nonprofit organizations. In the meantime, we encourage you to continue supporting the charities in whose missions you believe. Many of these organizations will be challenged by increased costs and services as well as reduced fundraising opportunities.

Arrowhead Regional Arts Council

Resources for Artists to Respond to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Small Grant: COVID-19 Emergency

This program provides grants of up to $750 for artists and organizations to do art projects online or in other forms during the current shut down of arts venues. This grant is for artists and organizations who have had projects cancelled or postponed due to COVID-19. We are striving to encourage the practice of social distancing, while still supporting artists and the sharing of art during this difficult time.

Our offices will be closed to the public, but we are continuing to work and can be reached via email.

General Questions: admin@aracouncil.org

Grant Questions: grants@aracouncil.org

The Jerome Foundation

The Jerome Foundation  makes grants to early career artists and those nonprofit arts organizations that serve them in Minnesota.

According to a letter from their president:

Arts organizations grantees have been authorized to use our funds to compensate artists for any cancelled Jerome-supported event.

Jerome Hill Artist Fellows (those grantees in the 2-year fellowship program that receive funds directly from the Foundation) and 2019 Film, Video and Digital Production grantees have been given access to up to $2,000 each towards emergency needs.

Organizations have been invited to approach us to restructure or redefine their grant—a process that we will approach with “radical trust” in our grantees.

We have confirmed that all grant commitments already contracted for 2020 and 2021 will be honored, without reduction in grants amounts or revocation of any grant.

 

The Otto Bremer Trust

Likewise the Otto Bremer Trust has announced the creation of a $50 million emergency fund to be set up through its Community Benefit Financial Company (CBFC) subsidiary to provide financial support to Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, and Montana nonprofits and other community organizations. The new fund will provide emergency funding, loans, lines of credit, and other financial resources to organizations impacted by and responding to the COVID-19 outbreak.

 DEED COVID-19 UPDATE:

Regarding restaurant, bar and other hospitality closures

St. Paul - In order to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Governor Walz announced the temporary closure of Minnesota restaurants and bars to dine-in customers as well as the closure of other places of public accommodation and amusement. This order is effective March 17th at 5:00 p.m. until March 27 at 5:00 p.m. The closures will be evaluated at the end of this 10-day period.

The Governor also issued an executive order to help ensure that workers who are not able to work as a result of COVID-19 have benefits available. Workers who are unemployed or who have hours reduced due to the COVID-19 outbreak are asked to apply for unemployment benefits online at uimn.org.

The website can accept applications Monday through Friday 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Please apply on the website to ensure the most efficient processing of applications during this unprecedented situation.

Information is on the UI website for people who have lost their jobs or had their hours cut because of COVID-19.

Find out more about the actions taken on the Governor’s website.

For the most up to date information on what DEED is doing during the COVID-19 outbreak refer to COVID-19 webpage on the DEED website.

Essentia Health’s Center for Personal Fitness closing at 5 p.m. today

In accordance with Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz’s directive to close many public spaces in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, Essentia Health will close its Center for Personal Fitness at the Miller Hill Mall, effective at 5 p.m. today (March 17).

This closure is in effect until further notice, though the governor’s statewide order extends until 5 p.m. on March 27. We will re-evaluate at that time.

Our Therapy & Performance Center, which also is located at the Essentia Health-Miller Hill Health Plaza, will remain open.

The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa is temporarily closing its two casinos in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Black Bear Casino Resort in Carlton and Fond-du-Luth Casino in toewntown Duluth will close Wednesday, March 18 at 5:00pm for at least 14 days. Websites for Black Bear Casino Resort and Fond-du-Luth Casino  will have more information.

DULUTH, MN— In response to COVID-19 virus concerns, Western Lake Superior Sanitary District (WLSSD) will close all of its facilities to the general public after the close of business on Tuesday, March 17.  The closures will continue until further notice. Facility closures include:

  • WLSSD Administrative Offices, 2626 Courtland St., Duluth will close to public traffic, but staff will continue to assist the public by telephone and via email.
  • WLSSD Materials Recovery Center (MRC) off Rice Lake Road.
  • WLSSD Household Hazardous Waste Facility, on 27th Ave West.

During the closures, WLSSD encourages residents use available disposal alternatives:

  • delay disposing of materials that don’t belong in the trash,
  • use one of several alternate permitted disposal options available locally,
  • Call local garbage haulers who can provide special pickup services for bulky materials, or provide dumpster rental for larger jobs.

WLSSD’s will continue to provide its core services of wastewater treatment for the region and ensuring the availability of disposal for commercial garbage haulers.

“We remain committed to our work to protect public health and the natural environment,” said Marianne Bohren, WLSSD executive director. “We’re monitoring the rapidly evolving situation and tracking the most current recommendations from various health authorities. We will provide updated information as needed.”

WLSSD will provide information updates on its website at wlssd.com and on its Facebook page.

City, county and state government

City of Duluth COVID-19 Updates

Town of Superior

St. Louis County Coronavirus Information

St. Louis County declares local state of emergency, announces two-day closure of county buildings

Douglas County Wisconsin Coronavirus Information

Minnesota Department of Health: Situation Update for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Minnesota Department of Health: Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Wisconsin Department of Health Services: outbreaks in Wisconsin

Wisconsin Department of Health Services: COVID-19

Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development:  COVID-19 Information and Resources

Minnesota Unemployment Insurance: COVID-19 and Unemployment Benefits

Public schools

Times, locations and more information about the Duluth School District's free breakfast and lunch drop-off schedule is available here.

Governor Walz Directs Schools to Make Long-Term Strategic Plans for COVID-19

Duluth Public Schools coronavirus update center

Superior School District coronavirus update page

Colleges and Universities

President of the University of Minnesota, situation update (3/16/2020)

FAQ: Information for University of Minnesota students, faculty and staff

University of Minnesota Health Alert: Coronavirus (COVID-19)

St Scholastica coronavirus information

University of Wisconsin-Superior coronavirus information

Information and updated resources from Minnesota State regarding concerns over Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Centers for Disease  Control

COVID-19 Info:  including latest updates, resources for communities, how to protect yourself and more

Hospitals and Clinics

St. Luke's: COVID-19

Essentia Health

Community Organizations

Boys & Girls Clubs of the Northland COVID-19 Updates

Animal Allies Humane Society restricts access to scheduled adoption/surrender appointments

Information for artists and musicians

Arrowhead Regional Arts Council has a couple of new links to check out: Resources for Artists to Respond to the COVID-19 Pandemic and Small Grant: COVID-19 Emergency

 

The Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation is working with our partners and have established a fund that will focus on local coronavirus issues and the implications for nonprofit organizations.

The Jerome Foundation is working with their grantees in this challenging time for artists; their president spelled out more of the details here.

Likewise the Otto Bremer Trust has announced the creation of a $50 million emergency fund  to provide financial support to Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, and Montana nonprofits and other community organizations.

Springboard for the Arts is offering an "evolving list of resources for information, exchange, and support in this time." 

Minnesota Citizens for the Arts is creating an online Coronavirus Resource Center for the arts community. It is currently under construction.

In an effort to track the impact of the coronavirus on the creative sector, Minnesota Citizens for the Arts is encouraging artists to take a short survey, the results of which will be shared with Americans for the Arts.

COVID-19 Freelance Artist Resources

American Federation of Musicians COVID-19 Resources

Credit RD1630/Flickr

The TP Thing

Why is everyone buying ridiculous amounts of toilet paper all of a sudden?  Here are some thoughts:  The psychology behind why toilet paper, of all things, is the latest coronavirus panic buy

And no, there is no "toilet paper shortage," although the run on it isn't helping anything: Why isn't toilet paper reappearing on store shelves yet?

(And while we've seen pictures of empty toilet paper shelves at big box stores, we've heard tell that local Super One stores, Walgreens, and the Whole Foods Co-op have some available.)

3/16/2020

Governor Walz Statement on Changing Economic Conditions Amid COVID-19

President of the University of Minnesota, situation update

United Way’s 2-1-1 Resource Hotline: If you or someone you know needs assistance accessing food, paying housing bills or other essential services, dial 2-1-1 or text the letters MNCOVID to 898-211. A Certified Community Resource Specialist will help you find available resources in your area. Additionally, visit Head of the Lakes United Way:  2-1-1 COVID-19 information for the latest information on COVID-19.

City of Duluth Announces Changes to City Operations Due To COVID-19, update 1:50pm 3/16/2020

Duluth Police Department, 3/16/2020

Essentia Health has announced visitor restrictions; the text of their email is reprinted below:

March 15, 2020

Essentia Health announces visitor restrictions

Our top priority is the safety and wellbeing of our patients, staff and the communities we are privileged to serve. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Essentia Health has made the difficult decision to restrict visitors at our hospitals. This is being done to protect patients and staff, and prevent the spread of this virus.

No visitors are allowed, except in the following circumstances:

· Inpatients: Visitors only will be allowed based on compassionate-care needs. Family members are advised to call the hospital/unit before coming.

· Emergency department: One visitor for pediatric, vulnerable adult, trauma or other patient requiring communication to a health care team on their behalf.

· Pediatric patients: One adult visitor will be allowed per patient.

· Labor and delivery patients: One adult visitor will be allowed per patient.

· Neonatal intensive care unit: One parent is permitted to visit at a time.

All other visitors will be asked to leave the hospital.

Additionally, no visitors who are ill will be allowed.

We encourage family and friends to use alternative methods of communication with patients, such as phone calls, Facetime, Skype or other digital channels.

We recognize this change will be difficult, but we believe it is necessary to protect our patients and staff from spreading illness.

This policy goes into effect at noon Monday, March 16, and will continue indefinitely. We appreciate the understanding of everyone affected.

 

Information for Minnesota Power and Superior Water, Light and Power customers

March 16, 2020
We understand COVID-19 is causing uncertainty and concern throughout our region and our
nation. Protecting the health and safety of our employees, our families, our customers and our
communities is of utmost priority to us. As your community partner that delivers an essential
service around the clock to more than 150,000 customers in Northeastern Minnesota and
Northwestern Wisconsin, our employees at Minnesota Power and Superior Water Light and Power
stand ready to ensure uninterrupted delivery of energy services that power our region’s homes,
hospitals, schools, businesses and large industries. In the field and at our facilities, we are taking
action to keep our employees safe through social distancing measures, and suspending
nonessential business travel and large meetings.

We recognize many of our residential customers may be facing financial hardship during this time
and worried about paying their utility bill. We are announcing several measures to provide
protections and enhance safety, including:

  •  Immediate suspension of disconnections for residential customers having financial hardship.
  •  Voluntary extension of Minnesota’s Cold Weather Rule through May 31.
  •  Wisconsin’s winter disconnection moratorium protection for SWL&P residential customers has been extended through the public health emergency.
  • All other customers are encouraged to contact us regarding payment arrangements and options.
  • For the safety of our workers and our customers, we are suspending all non-emergency customer site visits for the time being.
  • We will follow appropriate CDC guidelines when entering your home or business for emergency-related services only.

In this most challenging time, we want you to know that our talented employees will continue to
provide the essential services that have powered our region for more than 100 years. Thank you for
your trust in Minnesota Power and Superior Water, Light and Power as we work together to keep
our communities, our customers, and our families healthy and safe.

Sincerely,
Bethany Owen
ALLETE President and CEO