Friday Digest: March 20

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Friday Digest: March 20, 2020

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This Week:

Message from the Minneapolis VA Medical Center

Attention Veterans: If you think you have been exposed to COVID‑19 and develop a fever and symptoms such as cough or difficulty breathing, or if you are feeling sick or ill with other symptoms, your first step is to CALL the Minneapolis VA Health Care System at (612) 467-1100.

The medical staff will advise you on next steps based on your symptoms. In a medical emergency, call 911.

Update from Governor Walz


Governor Tim Walz has signed an executive order ordering health care providers to prioritize COVID-19 care by postponing elective surgeries, including elective dental procedures. 

This order complies with guidance issued on March 17, 2020, from the Centers on Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as well as similar guidance from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued on March 18, 2020, to delay elective surgeries and procedures, both to conserve health care resources and to reduce contact between patients and providers.

“The greatest risk we face during the COVID-19 pandemic is overwhelming our health care systems and limiting their ability to respond to emerging cases,” said Governor Walz. “This executive order keeps more health care resources open and prioritizes life-saving intervention for COVID-19 patients and other emergency care.”

Previous Actions by the Governor

March 18: The Governor took action to support businesses affected by COVID-19 by announcing a 30-day Sales and Use Tax grace period for businesses identified in Executive Order 20-04.

March 18: Executive Order 20-08 clarifying the types of businesses and places of public accommodation subject to closure per Executive Order 20-04. The executive order clarifies that the closure order applies to salons, barbershops, and other similar establishments.

March 17: 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.

March 17: 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.

March 17: Governor Walz 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.

March 16: Executive Order 20-05 to strengthen Minnesota’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund and ensure that workers who are not able to work as a result of COVID-19 have benefits available. Specifically, this Executive 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.

March 16: Executive Order 20-04 to order the temporary closure of Minnesota restaurants and bars to dine-in customers. He also ordered the temporary closure of other places of public accommodation and amusement, including theaters, museums, fitness centers, and community clubs.

March 16: Executive Order 20-03 to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Minnesota’s Veterans Homes. This executive order allows Veterans Homes to protect residents and staff by temporarily restricting visitors, reducing the risk of COVID-19 spread among residents.

March 15: Executive Order 20-02 authorizing the temporary closure of Minnesota K-12 public schools to students in order for school administrators and teachers to make long-term plans for the continuity of education and essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

March 13: Executive Order 20-01 declaring a peacetime emergency in Minnesota and unveiled legislative proposals to prepare for the COVID-19 pandemic

Everyone can work to reduce the spread of COVID-19

  • Stay home if you can.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
  • Cover your cough.
  • Events of any size should only be continued if they can be carried out with adherence to guidelines for protecting vulnerable populations, hand hygiene, and social distancing. When feasible, organizers could modify events to be virtual.
  • Up-to-date guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health on recommended community mitigation strategies can be found here.


MDVA COVID-19 Update

As we respond to COVID-19, the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA) remains committed to serving Minnesota Veterans and their families. We are following CDC, CMS and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) guidance. Some changes in our operations are necessary to provide a safe environment for both the Veterans and families we serve and our employees.

Minnesota State Veterans Cemeteries

Minnesota State Veterans Cemeteries remain open for both visitors and interments. We are strongly urging that all visitors and committal services adhere to MDH guidelines. We are providing options for Veterans families. Cemetery Administrators are available to discuss this situation and respond to your questions. More details are available on our website's State Veterans Cemeteries page.

Minnesota Veterans Homes Admissions, Leaves and Passes

The Minnesota Veterans Homes are continuing a practice of infection control, similar to actions taken during past highly contagious periods for influenza and norovirus. We are temporarily revising guidelines related to admissions, leaves and passes. These changes reflect guidance provided by CDC and CMS and an aggressive strategy of containment and contagion control in our Homes. These protect our vulnerable Veterans and allow us to maintain the integrity of our mission to care for and protect the health of our Veteran Residents and staff. For more information, talk to the Home Administrator. More details are available on our website's Veterans Homes page.

GI Bill Payments to Veteran Students

Veterans who are currently enrolled in higher education programs will continue to receive GI Bill payments as they transition from on-site instruction to online instruction. This provision was included in new legislation signed into law by President Trump this week.


MDVA is hiring! The needs of Minnesota Veterans do not diminish during this time, and MDVA needs staff to serve and care for our Veterans. We have a significant need for Certified Nursing Assistants and Resident Assistants in our Veterans Homes. Working for the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs is a rewarding career with great State of Minnesota Benefits. For more information on current job openings, visit our website's Work for MDVA page.


The National Alliance on Mental Illness - Minnesota is putting out Zoom meetings for mindfulness, stress support, and some counseling.

More Information >>

Veterans Crisis Line

Are you a Veteran in crisis or concerned about one? Connect with the Veterans Crisis Line to reach caring, qualified responders with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Many of them are Veterans themselves.

You can reach the Veterans Crisis Line at 1-800-273-8255, press 1 for the Veterans Crisis Line, or text to 838255, or chat online 24/7/365

Work at MDVA

The Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA) is looking for individuals across the state interested in joining a team that is committed to helping serve Minnesota Veterans and their families. Whether you are a Veteran, family member, or an individual who wants to show your support for our nation’s heroes, we are confident you will find a career path that is diverse, team-oriented and focused on making a real difference. A full listing of positions can be found at the Minnesota Careers website. Some of our current job openings:

Fergus Falls




Silver Bay

2020 MDVA Women Veterans Conference, April 4 - Postponed

The annual MDVA Women Veterans Conference has been postponed. We will provide updated information about the event when available.

More Information >>

Women Veterans Conference Flyer

Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans Events

To ensure the health and safety of Veterans, the public, MACV volunteers, and staff, MACV has cancelled the April 14th legal clinic at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center. MACV is monitoring the situation and may be canceling future clinics as well.

If you know of a Veteran in need of legal assistance please have them call Vetlaw at (651) 200-4750 or email Vetlaw at

2019-2020 WWII Roundtable, Minnesota History Center

For 33 years, the Dr. Harold C. Deutsch World War II History Round Table has been committed to preserving the factual history of World War II. Through the input of historians, first-hand accounts from individuals, and travel, they seek to promote the study of this influential era.

Beginning in 2019, they will meet at the Minnesota History Center at 7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of every month from September through May, unless otherwise noted in the schedule.

  • March 24 - due to the current COVID-19 situation, this event has been cancelled and is tentatively reschedules for November 2020.

More Information and Full Schedule >>

2019-2020 Vietnam War Roundtable, Concordia University

The Minnesota Military Museum, in partnership with Twin Cities Public Television and Concordia University, St. Paul, present this 2019-20 series held at Concordia University on the 3rd Monday of month (September through May). Parking and admission are free (a small donation to the museum is appreciated). This new series is an opportunity for Veterans (and those interested in the war and its legacy) to gather on a monthly basis to honor, remember and understand this tumultuous time.

  • April 20: The Fall of Saigon, 45th Anniversary - Saigon was captured by the North Vietnamese Army on April 30th, 1975 effectively ending the Vietnam War. Marine Corps officer John Murray served as the USMC logistical officer during this event making sure that American evacuation helicopters were operational and overseeing the dumping overboard of escaping Vietnamese helicopters, for which there was no room on American ships. American military and civilian personnel and Vietnamese will discuss their experiences surrounding the fall of Saigon and the aftereffects of the North Vietnamese victory.

All events begin at 7 p.m. at Concordia University's Buetow Auditorium on Hamline Avenue just south of I-94. Signs will be posted.

300 Hamline Avenue North
St. Paul, MN 55104

More Information and Full Schedule >>

Veterans Day on the Hill, April 20 - Cancelled

Veterans Day on the Hill

This year's Veterans Day on the Hill rally scheduled for April 20 has been cancelled.

More Information >>

Road Work Around MSP Airport, Minneapolis VA Medical Center, and the Minneapolis Veterans Home

Around the Airport

More Information >>

Your Voice Counts!

Help make sure Veterans in Minnesota are counted in the 2020 Census

Census Flyer

Each year, Minnesota communities receive 15 billion dollars from the federal government on the basis of the Census count.

That’s $15,459,175,947!

  • $2,796 per Minnesotan per year
  • $27,960 per Minnesotan per decade

Programs whose funding is affected by the Census:

  • Veterans Housing Rehabilitation and Modification Program - $2,850,000
  • Disabled Veterans' Outreach Program - $116,436,000
  • Homeless Veterans' Reintegration Program - $45,000,000
  • Supportive Services for Veteran Families Program - $300,000,000

An accurate and complete 2020 Census count is vital to our community and state. Here are some of the most important things to know.

Who gets counted?
Everyone! The census is mandated by the U.S. Constitution and counts all people who reside in the United States, regardless of citizenship or immigration status.

When is the Census?
Starting in March 2020, the U.S. Census Bureau will mail letters to every household in the United States inviting all to respond to the Census survey. Every household should receive a letter requesting that they complete a census survey online, by mail, or phone by Census Day on April 1, 2020.

Why do we have a census?
The data collected from the Census is used to make sure everyone is equally represented in our political system, and that government resources are allocated fairly. The Census data determines how many congressional seats a state receives; how much federal funding will be allocated to local communities for public services and infrastructure needs; and provides a picture of the changing demographics of the country.

Get Your REAL ID by Oct. 1

The REAL ID enforcement date is quickly approaching, and Governor Tim Walz wanted to make sure you have all the information to get REAL ID ready. The federal enforcement date is October 1, 2020 – which means that all Minnesota license holders will need a REAL ID or other acceptable form of identification by this date.

That’s why Governor Walz encourages you to apply for REAL ID or enhanced driver’s license NOW to avoid the rush as the deadline approaches.

Governor Walz Video

Every air traveler 18 years of age or older will need a REAL ID, enhanced driver’s license, passport or passport card, or another acceptable form of ID to fly within the U.S. or enter federal facilities. And right now, there are still 3.7 million Minnesota license holders who may still need a REAL ID.

Below are some frequently asked questions, and you can learn more about how to apply for a REAL ID and stay up-to-date at Share this video and information with your family and friends to help all Minnesotans be REAL ID ready by October 1, 2020.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply for a REAL ID?

If you or someone you know plans to apply for a REAL ID, start at You can pre-apply online, and that will reduce the time you spend in an office. The pre-application will walk you through exactly what documents you need to bring with you. Applying for a REAL ID requires additional documentation compared to a standard driver’s license, but the cost is the same.

How long will it take to receive my REAL ID?

License and ID card processing times are updated weekly at

Will my Enhanced Driver’s license (EDL) or Enhanced ID Card (EID) work to fly beginning Oct. 1, 2020?

Yes. In addition to indicating lawful driving privileges and being a valid form of identification, EDLs and EIDs can be used for domestic air travel and to access federal facilities now and after Oct. 1, 2020. They are also designated border crossing documents that can be used to re-enter the U.S. by land and sea from Canada, Mexico, and some countries in the Caribbean. Learn more on the DPS-DVS website.

How do I know if my driver’s license or ID card is REAL ID compliant?

A REAL ID is marked with a gold star. An Enhanced Driver’s License or Enhanced ID is marked with a U.S. flag and is REAL ID compliant. A standard Minnesota driver’s license or ID card is marked “Not for federal identification” and will not be accepted by the TSA to board an aircraft as of Oct. 1, 2020.