Hennepin County News and COVID-19 Update - May 16

commissioner marion greene

May 16, 2020

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

As the state loosens some restrictions of the "stay home" orders, I ask that all residents be particularly mindful of our collective health and well being as our day-to-day interactions may increase due to the new executive order. 

Please be sure to review the state's guidance included below, and utilize the linked Hennepin County emergency support measures as needed.

Be well,

marion signature

Governor Walz Announces "Stay Safe MN" Initiative



Stay Safe MN

Governor Walz has "moved the dial" and introduced more interaction between people over time. As the state takes cautious steps forward, it is more important than ever that residents protect those most at risk, support workers, and all do our part to slow the spread of the virus. The Walz administration also continues to encourage Minnesotans to:

  • Wash your hands often
  • Get tested when sick
  • Maintain social distance
  • Wear a mask
  • Stay home when able

Beginning May 18, non-critical businesses, like retail stores and main street businesses, can reopen if they have a social distancing plan and operate at 50 percent capacity. Additionally, the Walz-Flanagan Administration is assembling guidance on how to safely reopen bars, restaurants, barbershops, and salons beginning June 1. Watch for more updates from the Minnesota Department of Employment & Economic Development about what this means for business.

Also, starting May 18, Minnesotans are welcome to gather with friends and family in groups of 10 or less with safe social distancing practices in place. 

Read more here. 

Request Your Absentee Ballot


Access the Minnesota's Secretary of State application for federal, state and county elections

To complete this application online you must:

  • Be eligible to register and vote in Minnesota
  • Provide an email address
  • Provide your identification number: MN-issued driver's license, Minnesota ID card or last 4 digits of Social Security Number

Complete your absentee ballot request here.

Fremont Avenue Bridge Pier Reconstruction and Reroute


Crews are expected to begin work on the bridge pier this Monday, May 18. As a result, they will have to close the Greenway in the area and reroute traffic to a brief detour starting on Monday. County staff have worked with the contractor to make the closure as brief as possible.

The team has adjusted their plan to have two multi-week closures to one closure that we anticipate to last a maximum of four weeks. Among the benefits are better safety and reducing the need for multiple extended closures where the Greenway would close, then reopen, then close again to reopen once more. There could still be some closures, but they should be shorter in their durations.

The detour for the Greenway is the same as last year. It’s a two-way detour that uses Girard, 28th and Bryant avenues.

Learn more about the project here. 

Property Tax Abatement Update

As you may already know, non-escrow taxpayers whose full year property tax bill is less than $100,000 may make their first half payment by July 15 without penalty. Non-escrow taxpayers whose full year tax bill is $100,000 or greater and have been impacted by COVID 19 may apply for an abatement of penalty.

In order for a penalty abatement request to be considered by the Hennepin County Auditor/Treasurer, full payment of the property tax due must be provided to the Hennepin County Auditor/Treasurer within 14 days of an abatement request. Or in other words, a property taxpayer who is needing to pay their property taxes late must first make the full property tax payment, incur the late payment penalty, and then apply to have the late payment penalty waived.

Here are the criteria for which a COVID Written Penalty Abatement Request would be considered:

  • Significant loss of personal income or loss of employment due to the state of emergency
  • Significant loss of business income or a business closure due to the state of emergency
  • Hospitalization (or death) of a taxpayer or an immediate family member for COVID‐19

Find updates on our Hennepin County Tax Payment Options page.



Hennepin County COVID-19 Emergency Support Measures;

Emergency Rental Assistance

The board allocated $15 million for emergency rental assistance for low-income residents.

Low-income households and households of color have been disproportionately impacted by the economic consequences of COVID-19. Many low-income renter households are working in the industries that have lost the most jobs due to COVID-19. To address these disparities, funds will be targeted to renters with incomes below 50 percent of the area median income.

This funding is expected to help 9,000 low-income Hennepin County residents maintain stable housing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The board previously approved $740,000 to fund emergency housing assistance for renters and homeowners.

Learn more about the program.  


Helping Small Businesses Respond and Recover

The board allocated $15 million for small business relief and recovery efforts, including adding $10 million to the Hennepin County Small Business Relief Fund for emergency financial relief. An additional $5M will go to future business recovery efforts.

The impacts of COVID-19 have disproportionately affected small and minority owned businesses, who have also faced the greatest challenges in accessing financial assistance from other state and federal relief programs. To address these disparities, Hennepin County is partnering with the Alliance for Metropolitan Stability and 10 community-based organizations to provide culturally-specific outreach and technical assistance.

The board also directed staff to develop guidelines and an implementation plan to help businesses reopen under new public health guidance and protocols.

This funding is expected to support response and recovery efforts for approximately 1,300 small businesses in Hennepin County.

The board previously approved $2 million of emergency business support to help local businesses recover from the economic impacts of COVID-19.

Learn more about the program.


Council on COVID-19 business recovery

A new Hennepin County Business Advisory Council will support the rapid recovery of businesses from COVID-19.

The board established the advisory council Tuesday, which will include 20-25 representatives with business experience and ability to represent the diversity of Hennepin County's business community.

Representatives will identify opportunities and needs in the business community, provide guidance and input to county staff on potential programs and initiatives, and act as a liaison between the business community and Hennepin County.


COVID-19 Response Activation Toolkits for Public Spaces:

Hennepin County has partnered with the Musicant Group to develop two “COVID-19 Response Activation Toolkits,” to help community partners navigate and respond to the changing demands on public spaces as a result of the pandemic.

  • The Business District Toolkit offers creative ideas for commercial districts and their small businesses to help navigate COVID-19. 
  • The Active Living Toolkit (coming soon) will be aimed at planning, public works and parks staff as they strive to plan for outdoor recreation and active transportation while maintaining social distancing.

View the completed Business District Toolkit and watch for the Active Living Toolkit (coming soon) 

For more information: contact Denise Engen at denise.engen@hennepin.us


Supports for Youth Involved with County Services

The board approved a directive focusing on youth educational stability, health and wellbeing.

Hennepin County will develop strategies to support youth impacted by COVID-19, particularly youth involved in county systems and out of home placement.

Efforts will focus on access to distance learning and educational stability.


Updated Board Calendar

In order to make timely decisions related to COVID-19, Hennepin County board meetings and committee meetings will now take place every week through the end of July.

View the updated calendar.

Personal Protective Equipment Donations Still Needed

Staff working in quarantine operations, as first responders, in public health, and in clinics and hospitals are running low on supplies that keep them safe and help them continue their work protecting our community. We are accepting items at drop-off locations to help protect responders.

Priority items needed

  • Protective face wear – N95 or N100 respirators, PAPRs and surgical masks
  • Nitrile gloves
  • Tyvek Coveralls
  • Tyvek Foot covers
  • Eye protection (wrap-arounds or chemical splash)

Learn more and fine drop off locations here. 

Up-to-Date Resources

Community resources


Hennepin County Resources

Hennepin County is continually finding ways to continue providing residents with services during this time.

Find the most up-to-date information about how to access these services.


Use the Hennepin County local resource site to find updated information on food shelves and meals, financial assistance, mental health services, domestic violence services, and resources for housing and utilities. 


Call 612-348-5553 to speak with Healthcare for the Homeless staff about accessing quarantine and isolation space. Find additional resources for those experiencing housing instability. 


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.


While offices are closed to the public, the state continues to take applications for Emergency Assistance (EA) and Emergency General Assistance (EGA), and other assistance.

Learn about free and low-cost internet options to support distance learning.


Review a list compiled by the Hennepin County Attorney's Office on scams related to the COVID-19 pandemic. 


Visit the Hennepin County Library Curbside Pickup FAQ for details on how to safely access physical materials from the collection.

The Domestic Abuse Service Center is currently operating remotely. All services can be accessed by calling (612) 348-5073.


Minneapolis Resources

The City of Minneapolis opened up space for walking, rolling and biking to support active recreation and safe access to essential businesses with Stay Healthy Streets. 


Minneapolis Public Schools is offering weekly food pick up at nearly 50 food distribution sites across the city of Minneapolis. Food is free and available to any child 18 years or younger. 


Saint Louis Park Resources

Saint Louis Park public schools are offering free meals for school-aged children. Questions? Call the School Nutrition Department at 952-928-6146.


State Resources

Find State COVID-19 testing locations near you.


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

State of Minnesota Dedicated COVID-19 Hotlines: 

  • Community (schools, child care, business) questions: 651-297-1304 or 1-800-657-3504 (7:00 am – 7:00 pm)
  • Health questions: 651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903 (7:00 am – 7:00 pm)


If you need assistance covering your energy bills, the state’s Energy Assistance Program may be able to help.


Resources for Essential Workers

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.


Free Nice Ride memberships available for healthcare workers.


Healthcare Worker Childcare through U of MN Medical Student Group


MetroMobility offering grocery delivery to certified riders


Additional Community Resources

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. 


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


'Free Meals for Kids' Mobile App


Homes for All COVID-19 Housing and Homelessness Resources


Twin Cities Restaurant Curbside Order Pick Ups Options


Arts at Home

Contact us

Marion Greene
Commissioner, 3rd District

Elie Farhat
Principal Aide

Laura Hoffman
District Aide


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