Minnesota Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith voted to secure $8.3 billion in emergency funding for coronavirus preparedness and response efforts, including support for state and local health agencies, vaccine and treatment development, and low-interest loans for small businesses affected by the outbreak.
Included in the bill was an additional $500 million to expand telehealth services for seniors in small towns and rural areas who receive Medicare benefits. The emergency funding also includes at least $40 million for tribal health entities to ensure tribal communities have the resources needed to respond to the virus outbreak.
According to a news release, the state of Minnesota is expected to receive at least $10 million as part of this emergency funding.
“The outbreak of coronavirus requires a swift response from the United States so that we can limit its spread and care for those who have been infected or exposed,” Klobuchar stated in the release. “This is an important agreement for our country and the additional funding will help states, local governments, and tribes prepare to confront the virus and will aid in the rapid development of a vaccine.”
“We’re focused on doing everything we can do to help control the outbreak of the virus, protect the health and safety of Americans, and figure out how this outbreak is affecting the economy,” Smith stated in the release. “The federal government needs to have a coordinated effort in place with the resources and support from both sides of the aisle that it deserves. I fought to make sure this funding goes directly to where it’s needed — to address coronavirus and infectious diseases — and I made sure we reimburse any funding previously taken away from critical programs like the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which helps seniors and families heat their homes. Additionally, I’ve spoken with Gov. Tim Walz, the Minnesota Department of Health, local providers, and we are all committed to working closely together because Minnesotans’ safety and health are top of mind.”