Hennepin County News and COVID-19 Update - April 25

commissioner marion greene

April 25, 2020

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

As we round out another week of this “new normal”, I want to express my gratitude for your continued engagement and support. It isn’t easy to abruptly uproot old patterns and ways of being. The uncertainty of these times is stressful and uncomfortable. Your contributions cannot be downplayed and are deeply appreciated.

With your support, Hennepin County leadership is making thoughtful, informed decisions about how to respond to this crisis and how to rebuild in its aftermath. As I shared in a recent Southwest Journal interview, a mentor once told me years ago that the earlier you can plan for how life will be different after a crisis, the better off you will be. In spite of the fact that we have plenty on our plate relating to today and tomorrow, Hennepin County is not losing sight of the horizon.

I encourage you to read through the other interviews in this series. The SW Journal has been following Minneapolis residents from all walks of life to see how they have been impacted – a teacher, a rabbi, an emergency room physician, a gym owner, and others are sharing their stories as this situation unfolds.

Stories like these, and the ones you share with my office every day, are always at the front of my mind when I am shaping county policy. The issues, priorities and values that you elevate directly impact county board decisions.

Thank you again for your engagement and support.

Be well,

marion signature

Governor Walz Extends "Stay at Home" Order to May 4; Closes Minnesota Schools for Rest of Academic Year 


On April 8, Governor Tim Walz made the decision to extend Minnesota’s "stay at home" order through May 4. The data shows that our collective effort to stay home as much as possible and practice safe social distancing is making an impact -- keep up the good work!

Find more information about the extended order here.


New Minnesota State COVID-19 Testing Website

Learn what to do if sick and how to find a testing location in your community. 


"Stay At Home" should never mean you stay somewhere unsafe. There are places of sanctuary open for anyone facing abuse or violence. Please call Minnesota's statewide crisis hotline - available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week - at 1.866.223.1111 or text 612.399.9995.


On April 23, Governor Walz ordered the state’s public K-12 schools to stay closed for the rest of the academic year.The order assures that students and teachers will finish out the school year through distance-learning plans that have been underway for weeks.

Read Star Tribune Coverage here. 

Property Tax Abatement Update

The board approved a measure to automatically waive penalties for certain property tax payments due on May 15 but made on or before July 15. 

For property taxpayers who owe less than $100,000 in a year, and who do not escrow, no penalties will be charged if payment is received on or before July 15.

Property taxpayers who do not fit these criteria can apply for a penalty waiver starting May 1. The county is currently building out the online portal for this application. 

Hennepin County asks taxpayers who can pay even a portion by May 15 to do so.

April 21 County Board Actions

Hennepin County Small Business Relief Program

The board approved $2 million of emergency loan funding to help local businesses recover from the economic impacts of COVID-19. The county will partner with Metropolitan Consortium of Community Developers to assist approximately 265 businesses.

Learn more about small business relief.


Small Business Outreach

The board approved an agreement with the Alliance for Metropolitan Stability to provide small business outreach in partnership with culturally specific, community-based organizations. 


Emergency Housing Assistance 

The board approved $740,000 to fund emergency housing assistance for renters and homeowners. The county will add up to $1.5 million more for rental assistance from federal CARES Act funding in the coming days.

Hennepin County Affordable Housing Public Comment Period

housing plan

Hennepin County is seeking feedback on the use of funds for affordable housing and community development in suburban cities.

Share your written comments by May 8.


Arbor day was yesterday (4/24), but it’s still a great excuse to get out and explore your neighborhood. For help with identifying trees, use the Hennepin County tree identification guide.

Up-to-Date Resources


Minnesota Discrimination Helpline

On April 6, the Walz administration established a statewide discrimination helpline for Minnesotans to report instances of bias and discrimination the the Minnesota Department of Human Rights. Every Minnesotan can call the Discrimination Helpline at 1-833-454-0148 or complete and submit this online form. The helpline is staffed Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.


Meal Pick Up

Minneapolis Meal Pick Up

Minneapolis Public Sschools is offering weekly food pick up at nearly 50 food distribution sites across the city of Minneapolis. Each day, up to 10 different sites across the city offer food pick-up from 10 am - 2 pm, Monday-Friday. Each food box contains 5 breakfasts and 5 lunches for a total of 10 meals. Families are welcome to take one box per child, per week. Food is free and available to any child 18 years or younger.

Find out more here.


St. Louis Park Meal Pick Up

Meals will be distributed on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays. On Wednesdays, families will have the ability to obtain enough meals for the remainder of the week. Questions? Call the School Nutrition Department at 952-928-6146.

Find out more


Hennepin County Data Transparency

It’s Hennepin County’s responsibility to provide support for residents in need, and accurate data helps ensure we do it effectively. Learn how we’re using data to guide our COVID-19 response. 


COPE for Youth

If you are or know a child or teen who is experiencing a mental health crisis, you can get help by calling Hennepin County COPE at 612-348-2233. We're here for you around the clock.


Mask Drive

Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanagan have launched a Homemade Mask Drive to support those working and living in congregate living facilities.

Today, Saturday, April 25 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., Minnesotans can deliver homemade masks to their local fire station. Fire stations will then deliver the masks to local congregate living facilities for their employees and residents to wear. All 775 fire departments in the State of Minnesota are participating.

Find more information and instructions here.


Metropolitan Council Curb-to-Curb Rides for Essential Healthcare Workers

The Metropolitan Council announced it’s marshaling its resources for the region’s frontline healthcare workers to provide a safe and stress-free trip to and from work. Metro Mobility is now providing free door-to-door service from home to work and work to home for any person who works at a healthcare facility, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Learn more here. 


Hennepin County COVID-19 Service Website

Hennepin County is continually finding ways to continue providing residents with services during this time. You can find the most up-to-date information about how to access these services here.


SNAP Update

If you receive SNAP benefits but can’t leave your home to get groceries, you may now designate someone to use your EBT card on your behalf.

Learn more here. 


Curbside Pickup Announced at Eight Hennepin County Libraries 

Hennepin County Library are now offering contactless curbside pickup at eight library locations. Pilot locations include Brooklyn Park, East Lake, Eden Prairie, Maple Grove, Plymouth, Ridgedale, Washburn, and Webber Park. Visit the Curbside Pickup FAQ for details on how to safely access physical materials from the collection.


Energy Bill Assistance For Renters and Homeowners

If you need help covering your heating bills, the state’s Energy Assistance Program may be able to help. Funding is still available for households in need, and eligibility criteria have been loosened to ensure as many households as possible can benefit during the pandemic. 


Homeless Assistance

Hennepin County has set up a new hotline through Healthcare for the Homeless to help people access quarantine and isolation space, or to speak with a nurse or social worker. Please encourage anyone who may need these services to call 612-348-5553. In addition, this list of resources may help people experiencing housing instability, including key information like how to access shelter, how to apply for food or rent assistance, and where to find public restrooms.


Legal Resources Related to COVID-19

Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid has created a webpage with updates on court cases and advice for people with questions about housing, safety, health, unemployment benefits, etc. during this time.

Visit the site here.


The Domestic Abuse Service Center Offering Remote Services

On March 16, the Domestic Abuse Service Center (DASC) began offering services remotely to continue supporting victims of domestic violence during the COVID-19 pandemic. All remote services can be accessed by calling (612) 348-5073.


Mental Health Resources

Mental health may be difficult to manage during this uncertain time. The Minnesota Department of Health has numerous resources for how to reduce stress and anxiety:

Visit the site here. 


Personal Mask Use

You can help protect others around you by wearing a non-medical grade mask when going out in public. A mask can catch respiratory droplets so they don’t come into contact with other people. However, wearing a mask is not meant to protect you and is not a substitute for social distancing. 

In this video, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams shares ways to create your own non-medical grade mask.


Free Nice Ride Memberships for Healthcare Workers

See more here.

Census 2020


Track Hennepin County census response rates by zip code, which was created by Geographic information system mapping (GIS). Users may also change the view in the upper right hand corner under legend and see by commissioners’ districts. It’s on the Hennepin.us/wecount page and will be updated once a week.

Hennepin County is participating at some of the highest rates in the country, but the response rates for historically undercounted communities remain low. The census team is working on revised plans to engage hard-to-reach residents.

Learn about options to complete the 2020 Census and watch a short video.

View Census 2020 important dates.




Engaging with our Local Art Scene

MN Art Mart is an instant way to help artists who rely on income from contract labor, traveling gigs, and sales of work, who have been adversely affected by the events of COVID-19.

Learn more here. 


Play at Home, Short Plays to Watch at Home was launched in March 2020 by a collection of theaters who were producing plays, business as usual, when a global pandemic had other plans. Prioritizing the safety of their communities, they made difficult decisions to cease or postpone programming for the remainder their seasons. But the story doesn’t end there. With a spirit of resilience, adaptation, and invitation, they came together to create the Play At Home project, a series of short plays commissioned specifically for this moment of unprecedented isolation to inspire joy and connection for all.

Learn more here. 


Find your next read at the Advocates for Human Rights Book Club.


Stream movies from MSP Film Society Virtual Cinema's selection.


Additional Online Experiences:



Additional County Funding for COVID-19 Response

The Hennepin County Board designated $3 million of additional funding for COVID-19 response.This action will provide equipment and services that are essential to responding to the pandemic, including safe and isolated living spaces for people experiencing homelessness. Learn more about other key actions commissioners have taken in response to the pandemic.


Additional $1 Million for Housing Homeless

Of the additional funding allocated to COVID-19 response, $1 million is dedicated to housing homeless Hennepin County residents. The funds will be used to lease more hotel space for individuals experiencing homelessness or housing instability that are at high-risk of becoming sick from COVID-19. The county's total spend in this area is $4 million.


Supporting Hennepin Healthcare Heroes

This is a time of enormous upheaval, and yet again and again people are also stepping forward to be outstandingly generous. If you are looking for a place to lend some support, please consider the healthcare workers on the front lines at Hennepin County Medical Center -- Hennepin Heroes.

This fund provides medical staff with the resources they need to care for themselves, while they care for us. This support takes many forms. To spark ideas for you I’ll share that one way this fund helps is by providing nutritious and delicious meals to keep workers going. If you would like to sponsor a meal, a day, a week of meals, you name it, HCMC will acknowledge the generosity on their social media platforms. No gift is too small.


City of Minneapolis Gap Funding

More than $5 million in City funding and new programming is now being dedicated to help renters, families, small businesses and employees hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The City is taking steps to make sure these funds complement, not duplicate, the work made possibly by new State and federal funding. Among other things, the funding will provide housing assistance to low-income renters who have lost income and forgivable, no-interest loans for small businesses. Mayor Jacob Frey and the City Council partnered on the creation of this special gap funding package. 

The gap fund for housing includes:

The gap fund for small businesses includes:

  • $2.2 million in forgivable and zero-percent loans to support small businesses and self-employed workers.
  • Modifications to the City loan program: The City’s existing 2% participation loan program for small businesses will be modified to set the interest rate to 0% and expand the eligible expenses to include working capital costs.

Read more about the gap funding package and eligibility information.


UPDATE:  City began taking applications April 22 for Minneapolis Gap Funds for Housing for renters

The City of Minneapolis began taking applications April 22 for the City’s $3 million in Gap Funds for Housing for renters.

The online application will open 9 a.m. Wednesday, April 22, and close noon Monday, April 27. Applications will be available in English, Spanish, Hmong, Somali and Oromo.

Apply online or call

Applicants can apply online or call the Tenant Resource Center at 612-302-3180. Callers will need to leave a voicemail message. An intake worker will return the voicemail message within three days.


Federal Student Loan Relief

The CARES Act passed by the federal government at the end of March provides broad relief for federal student loan borrowers. Federal student loan borrowers will be automatically placed on administrative forbearance starting March 13 and will not be required to make payments until September 30, 2020.

Read more here.

Resources and Access at Home

Immediate Community Updates:

Internet and Online Connectivity Resources:

Contact us

Marion Greene
Commissioner, 3rd District

Elie Farhat
Principal Aide

Laura Hoffman
District Aide


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