Hennepin County COVID-19 Declaration of Local Emergency, and more

commissioner marion greene

March 2020

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

As Chair of the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners, on Monday evening, March 16, I declared a state of local emergency in Hennepin County. This gives county leaders flexibility and nimbleness in our powers to take decisive action to protect the health and safety of our residents and employees. The board met today to ratify this action, and to take additional immediate next steps (read further for more information).

The stability, welfare, and immediate and long-term health of Hennepin County staff and residents is our utmost priority. 

This is a sprint ­and marathon. Much like the temporary closure of county service centers and libraries (details farther ahead in this email), this is a time both to respond decisively to emergent public health needs, and to reconsider thoughtfully how we will do business in the future. We will all do our part to weather this storm, but this is also an opportunity – an opportunity to grow and evolve as an organization and as a community.

My office is committed to providing the most up-to-date information as circumstances rapidly evolve. Please stay in touch with questions, and be on the lookout for communications and updates on my District 3 page and my Twitter and Facebook pages. 

My very best,

marion signature

Hennepin County Declaration of Continued Local Emergency

The declaration of local emergency invokes Hennepin County’s disaster plans, along with the county’s powers to quickly provide emergency aid.

The emergency will remain ongoing, due to the continued need for extraordinary and immediate measures to protect the health, safety, and welfare of Hennepin County residents and employees. It is not anticipated that these needs will be resolved in the immediate future.

This declaration also authorizes funds to purchase and contract for all necessary goods, materials, supplies, equipment, and contracted services as part of Hennepin County’s COVID-19 response.

All Hennepin County ordinances, rules, and policies that may inhibit or prevent prompt response to COVID-19 may be suspended for the duration of the local emergency if necessary.

View the Hennepin County Declaration of Local Emergency using the following link:

Hennepin County Libraries and Service Center Closures

Effective immediately through April 6:

  • All 41 Hennepin County Library locations are closed
  • Human service centers are closed
  • Licensing service centers are closed

The decision was not made lightly and and Hennepin County leaderships understands the challenges this creates for customers, clients, and residents. We are using this period to define creative solutions to serve residents without in-person contact. Please be assured that county services will continue. 


Closures and Service Disruptions

Find a running list of closures and service disruptions here.

Support for Hennepin County Staff

The Hennepin County Board authorized a support package for county employees that includes paid time off, negative leave balances, and workplace flexibility in order to maintain stability and protect the welfare of staff. These measures are not only meant to keep employees safe, but to protect those that employees serve and/or are in close contact with. 

These benefits will be available to employees disganosed with COVID-19, or to any employee taking care of an individual diagnosed with COVID-19.

Furthermore, the county has made a number of other significant benefits and workplace changes in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and is working diligently to anticipate COVID-19 developments and act accordingly to ensure the health and safety of residents.

Read more here.

Quarantine and Isolation Spaces for County­-Dependent Residents

The county board approved funding for alternative living spaces for county­-dependent individuals during the period March 17, 2020 through
December 31, 2020.

Hennepin County is responsible for providing for the needs (including adequate food, clothing, shelter, means of communication, medication, and competent medical care) for individuals who need to be separated from the general public (“quarantined” or “isolated”) due to suspicion of, exposure to, or
symptoms of a communicable disease, such as coronavirus (COVID­-19).

There are many individuals who may need to be quarantined or isolated who cannot provide for this on their own. This is for people who do not need hospital-level care, but who are determined to be at risk of or to be infectious and need a place to recover. The infectious period lasts 72 hours after the last
sign of symptoms for COVID­-19, which can be 3-­24 days depending on the person.

Read more here. 

COVID-19 and State Unemployment Benefits

If your employment has been affected by COVID-19, you can apply for unemployment benefits. The state is taking steps to make the application process a little simpler for those affected.

On March 16, 2020, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz issued an executive order to ensure workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic have full access to unemployment benefits. The executive order makes applicants eligible for unemployment benefits if:

  • A healthcare professional or health authority recommended or ordered them to avoid contact with others.
  • They have been ordered not to come to their workplace due to an outbreak of a communicable disease.
  • They have received notification from a school district, daycare, or other childcare provider that either classes are canceled or the applicant’s ordinary childcare is unavailable, provided that the applicant made reasonable effort to obtain other childcare and requested time off or other accommodation from the employer and no reasonable accommodation was available.

Governor Walz’s executive order waives the nonpayable or “waiting” week to ensure applicants have access to unemployment benefits as quickly as possible.

While all applicants for unemployment benefits must actively seek suitable employment, Governor Walz’s executive order stipulates that you may look for suitable work that does not pose a risk to your health or the health of others. If you have only been laid off temporarily, you can meet work search requirements by staying in contact with your current employer.

Finally, Governor Walz’s executive order waives the ordinary five-week benefit limitation for business owners who have become unemployed as a result of COVID-19.

If your employment has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, we encourage you to apply for unemployment benefits online.

Please use the online system to apply for benefits and request payments.

Learn more. 

State Court Temporary Changes

The Minnesota Judicial Branch is discouraging the public from making any non-essential visits to court facilities due to COVID-19. In an effort to reduce foot-traffic in courthouses, the State Court Administrator has taken the following temporary administrative actions effective Monday, March 16, 2020 for the next thirty days:

  • The Judicial Branch will stop sending out late penalty notices and assessing the late penalties for all citations.
  • For offenses eligible for drivers’ license suspension, the Judicial Branch will halt the automated process by which a person’s license is suspended for failure to appear.
  • The Judicial Branch will stop referring past-due payment cases to the Department of Revenue for collections.

These temporary changes made to the automated financial collection processes will not adversely affect a defendant’s case. Related financially-connected processing, such as drivers’ license reinstatement and web-based and phone-based payments made through the Court Payment Center, will continue to be processed while these procedures are in effect.

On Friday, March 13, Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie S. Gildea issued a statewide order establishing the state courts’ continuing operations in consideration of the spread of COVID-19. The Minnesota Judicial Branch’s latest information regarding COVID-19 is posted at mncourts.gov/Emergency.

Resources and Access at Home

Immediate Community Needs:

Internet and Online Connectivity Resources:

Experiences Online:

Local Highlights:

Thanks Yous

There are many people I’d like to thank. To start, I want to thank staff for their leadership: David Hough (our county administrator), the assistant county administrators, the public health and epidemiology team, and the many staff teams involved. They are working tirelessly to shape our new normal while holding foremost in our minds our service to county residents, and the wellbeing of residents and staff. They are responding and leading with compassion and understanding. Thank you to all county staff for your resiliency and service.

To the many people who have contacted me, both county residents and employees, thank you for sharing your hopes and fears with me and my office. I have read and listened to your messages, and want you to know that I appreciate them, and hear your concern for the future. These are unprecedented times, and we are working as fast as we can to respond as best as we know how, staying in close contact with leaders at the State of Minnesota and our city partners, as well as Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman and Hennepin County Sheriff Dave Hutchinson. Thank you for trusting your leaders to make the best decisions we can based on the information available to us.

Contact us

Marion Greene
Commissioner, 3rd District

Elie Farhat
Principal Aide

Laura Hoffman
District Aide


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