MDH Cultural and Faith Communities COVID-19 Update 4/24/20

Minnesota Department of Health

MDH Cultural and Faith Communities COVID-19 Update

View this as a webpage

April 24, 2020

Reminder, we are now sending one email update to the following three MDH mailing lists to reduce duplication:

  • Cultural and Faith Communities COVID-19 Update
  • MN Immigrant and Refugee Health Announcements
  • The Center for Health Equity

Today's COVID-19 updates include:

Status of COVID-19 in Minnesota

Updated April 24, 2020

  • Total positive: 3,185
    o Patients who no longer need to be isolated: 1,594
  • Total approximate number of completed tests:  53,787
  • Deaths: 221
  •  Total cases requiring hospitalization: 756 
    o Hospitalized as of today: 278 
    o Hospitalized in ICU as of today: 111

Numbers are cumulative since Jan. 20, 2020.

The number of lab-confirmed positive tests among Minnesota residents will be updated daily on Situation Update for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) with test results from the previous day. The page also includes numbers by county.

The total number of cases is likely an underestimate, as we know the virus is circulating in communities. It is important for everyone to follow advice on community mitigation and social distancing to help us flatten the case curve.

See Situation Update for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) for Minnesota case information, including case counts, a map of counties with confirmed cases, and more.

Governor has launched a public dashboard which includes race data of cases: Minnesota COVID-19 Public Dashboard.


Update on COVID-19 Materials

hand sanitizer

MDH has created a video on cleaning hands with hand sanitizer. Available in English and 10 other languages (ASL, Amharic, Arabic, Chinese, English, Hmong, Karen, Russian, Somali, Spanish, and Vietnamese). Translated transcripts in those languages are available as well. 

MDH has a variety of videos to help inform about COVID-19.  Additional multilingual videos will be added soon. 

Guidance for Faith-Based Communities (PDF) Guidance for faith communities during the Minnesota "Stay at Home" executive order time period.

New MDH Resource: Ramadan and COVID-19

Recommendations for Observing Ramadan While Slowing the Spread of COVID-19

Ramadan and COVID-19 (PDF) 

MDH consulted with imams from across Minnesota to develop guidance for observing Ramadan while slowing the spread of COVID-19. Muslim faith leaders across Minnesota have already taken great leadership in promoting social distancing and providing faith community members with alternate ways to observe Ramadan this year. A big thank you to them.

A little about Ramadan: The month of Ramadan in the Islamic calendar is a time of prayer, reflection, and fasting. Ramadan is marked by social and religious gatherings during which Muslim families and friends unite to break their fast together, at sunset during Iftar or before dawn during Suhour. Many Muslims increase their attendance at mosques during the month and congregate for longer prayers, especially at night. This year Ramadan begins on April 24 and ends on May 23. It is followed by the Eid al-Fitr festival on May 24.

Stay at Home Order: Next Steps

Governor Walz signed Executive Order 20-40 marking the beginning of the next phase of work: To begin a thoughtful, planned approach to re-opening parts of our economy by allowing a limited and safe return to work for some employees in industrial, manufacturing, and office settings starting April 27.

To continue our progress against the COVID-19 virus, many Minnesotans must continue to stay home. But, where physical presence is critical and where it can be done safely, it is appropriate that we begin to gradually loosen those restrictions. To do so, our Administration worked with health officials and Minnesota business partners to develop an approach that balances public safety, science-based health recommendations, and economic needs.

This approach includes:

  • The Stay at Home order remains in effect through May 4
  • Schools remain closed through the end of the school year
  • Minnesotans continue to practice social distancing
  • All symptomatic people are tested and public health surveillance tools are expanded
  • Confirmed cases and those who have been in close contact with them are isolated
  • Those who can work remotely continue to do so
  • Businesses where physical presence is critical develop detailed plans to gradually reopen

COVID-19 has changed how we work, how we care for our loved ones, how we go to school and how we connect to our friends, families and communities. Until a vaccine is widely available – which may be 18 months or more away – we will need to continue additional precautions while working, recreating, shopping, or gathering in large groups.

Social distancing guidelines will need to stay in place, sound health practices will need to be observed, and agencies will find ways to operate safely both inside and outside of the workplace to serve Minnesotans.

Other Updates

COVID-19: Behavioral Health Resources


The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) was created to raise the standard of care and increase access to services for children and families who experience or witness traumatic events. The NCTSN is continuing to create resources to address the behavioral health needs of children, families, and communities impacted by COVID-19. 

Visit the National Child Traumatic Stress Network website to find the latest updates on behavioral health resources. 


Webinar on Psychological First Aid (PFA) during COVID-19 Response


What will this webinar cover?
In any severe mass event, like a pandemic, it is common to have a rapid increase in the number of people experiencing distress, including being scared, confused, overwhelmed, uncertain, angry, and sad. Psychological First Aid (PFA) is an evidence-based intervention designed to help stabilize and mitigate psychological distress and to facilitate coping and functioning in the immediate aftermath of disasters and other tragic events. PFA is not counseling or therapy and anyone in any sector can provide PFA. Some of the traditional approaches used in PFA must be adapted to fit the needs of a pandemic or epidemic, where the ability to connect with clients, social supports, and community resources may be compromised. This webinar will review the basic principles of PFA while modifying them for the unique context refugee service providers and their clients are currently facing due to COVID-19.

Is this webinar for me?
This introductory webinar is designed for refugee service providers in the U.S. whose responsibilities including supporting clients who may experience distress. The training will be most relevant for those who have limited or no experience providing psychological first aid. Refugee service providers who have experience in PFA but who would like suggestions for applying PFA to our current environment may also wish to participate. This webinar is not intended to serve as a comprehensive training on the topic of psychological first aid.

Date: May 5, 2020

Time: 1:00-2:30 p.m. ET

Register for Psychological First Aid (PFA) during COVID-19 Response


COVID-19 Care and Public Charge


"Public charge" is a test for immigrants coming to the U.S., and for some immigrants in the U.S., who are applying for a green card for the first time. It is a test to see if they will need public benefits in the future. New changes to the rules make the test harder. Visit for information on COVID-19 Care and Public Charge.


Food donation image

Food Donation


Donating extra food is an easy way for food businesses to reduce waste and help their communities. It’s legal and tax deductible. Businesses, please check with your regulatory agency and local food donation programs to learn more about how you can participate. Increasing affordability and availability of nourishing foods is important to the health of Minnesotans!

Twin Cities Mask Makers – COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic Volunteers


There is a Facebook group Twin Cities Mask Makers – COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic Volunteers, which helps coordinate drop off spots for homemade personal protective equipment (PPE) to be distributed to local health care workers, caregivers, or those who are immune compromised. Visit Twin Cities Mask Makers resource page for matching sewers and volunteers.


Grants / Funding

COVID-19 Community Response - City of Minneapolis


A Request For Application (RFA) for the release of $100,000 of COVID19 Community Response funds is now live on City of Minneapolis Health Department’s website.  Eligible agencies for this opportunity include neighborhood organizations, cultural organizations, non-profit organizations, businesses, places of worship/faith organizations, or others. Local, regional, or state government entities are not eligible for funding under this RFA. 

Under this RFA, community agencies may apply for up to $15,000 each for response activities focused on underserved, cultural and vulnerable communities. COVID-19 response activities need to take place between May 15, 2020 and December 31, 2020. Existing activities, expansion activities, and new activities will all be considered for this funding.

Projects can be focused on direct response, support efforts or other byproducts of the pandemic such as food, shelter and health (mental or physical) and safety needs. The intent of the COVID-19 Community Response funds is to support community-led strategies. With that in mind, applicants are encouraged to propose activities that reflect their own expertise, experience, and knowledge and that focus on the specific issues identified within their areas or communities.

Proposals are due Friday, April 24 and must be submitted to Any questions prior to the deadline may also be submitted to this address. 


Request for Services: Diverse Media Vendors for COVID-19 Communications (Deadline Monday, April 27)


Reminder that the deadline for this opportunity is Monday, April 27. Please see the updated COVID-19 Diverse Media Request for Services FAQ page for answers to many questions.

The Minnesota Department of Health issued a request to vendors to propose a plan for media services to help MDH in getting culturally relevant, linguistically appropriate, accurate, and timely messages related to COVID-19 to communities of color and American Indian communities in Minnesota. Media services may include formats such as online, radio, print, social media, and television. Vendors are encouraged to use methods that are adaptable to quickly changing information and explore alternative methods of communication that are effective while people maintain social distancing.

MDH has $670,000 available for multiple media contracts through this competitive process. Interested vendors should complete the Proposal Submission Form on the MDH website as well as submit a detailed communications work plan, breakdown of cost estimate, and 1-2 examples of previous work. The State will make final selections of contractors based on a competitive review of proposals while also ensuring that the final cohort of selected contractors covers a range of communication modalities and reaches the major racial/ethnic communities in Minnesota. The State will prioritize minority-owned contractors.

For more information and to submit a proposal, visit the Request for Services for COVID-19 Diverse Media Messaging page.

Please note: If you have a question about the form or the process, please email your question to and State staff will get back to you within 1 business day.

Rapid Response Grant Opportunity - Voices for Healthy Kids


Voices for Healthy Kids a joint initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the American Heart Association, announces the launch of the new Voices for Healthy Kids COVID-19 Rapid Response Grant Opportunity.

These grants are targeted at safety net issues most closely related to the Voices for Healthy Kids body of work. Preference will be given to community-based organizations with demonstrated experiences working to build power in communities most impacted by health inequities including Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, American Indian and Alaskan Native or from families who have low income. Organizations “of community” and with lived experience are strongly encouraged to apply.

These grants will support systems and policy change campaigns that focus on helping those most under-resourced better gain access to health care, healthy food, and income support and stability during this critical time. 

Grants are due by Monday at 5:00 p.m. PDT each week starting on May 4, 2020 through May 25, 2020, or until funding has been depleted. 

Voices for Healthy Kids staff are available for any questions at All attempts will be made to speed the response time.


Rural Tribal COVID-19 Response Program - HRSA


Through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) received $15M to allocate to tribes, tribal organizations, urban Indian health organizations, and health service providers to tribes.

The funding will provide support for the Tribes to prevent, prepare, and respond to COVID-19 in rural communities. Tribes can request up to $300K in funding for COVID-19 related activities. For this funding opportunity, the System for Award Management (SAM) registration requirements will be relaxed for applicants at the time of submission in Current registrants in SAM, with active registrations expiring before May 16, 2020, will be provided a one-time extension of 60 days. New applicants are able to submit an application without a valid SAM registration.

Applicants can reach out to with any questions or concerns regarding their submission. HRSA will hold a technical assistance webinar on April 24th from 4:00pm-5:30 p.m. ET to discuss the funding opportunity and answer any questions you may have. The information for the webinar is included in the funding opportunity announcement (page ii).
To learn more about HRSA’s Federal Office of Rural Health Policy’s response to COVID-19, visit HRSA website.


COVID-19 Telehealth Funding Opportunity - Federal Communications Commission


The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is offering $200 million in funding to help health care providers provide care services to patients at their homes or mobile locations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The program will provide immediate support to eligible health care providers by fully funding their telecommunications services, information services, and devices necessary to provide critical services.

Please note: Grants will be open to eligible health care providers, whether located in rural or non-rural areas.

Visit the COVID-19 Telehealth Program website to apply and find information like application instructions and eligibility criteria.

For questions, contact:


Applications open for Gap Funds for Housing for renters through noon Monday, April 27


The City of Minneapolis is taking applications for the City’s $3 million in Gap Funds for Housing for renters from April 22 through noon, Monday, April 27.

Applications are available in five languages

Apply online or call

Applicants can apply online or call the Tenant Resource Center at 612-302-3129. Callers will need to leave a voicemail message. An intake worker will return the voicemail message within three days.

The Gap Funds for Housing will establish an Emergency Housing Assistance program for citywide emergency rental assistance and open the successful, existing Stable Homes Stable Schools initiative to all Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) elementary schools.

The amount of assistance provided will depend on the individual needs of the household, taking into consideration other resources the household is eligible to receive. In most cases, the maximum amount of assistance will not exceed $1,500 per household, but providers will have the flexibility to provide up to $2,000 under extraordinary circumstances. Eligible expenses include rent payments, utility payments and/or other housing stability related costs.

Learn more about Minneapolis Gap Funds for Housing.


Food, financial assistance available during pandemic

Minnesota makes it easier to get and use essential programs

Minnesotans who are struggling to feed themselves and their families or make ends meet should know that help is available and accessible during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Minnesota Department of Human Services has temporarily modified procedures to make it easier for people to get, keep and use essential programs including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, which offers monthly food benefits.

Information about SNAP and other hunger resources is collected on the department’s new food emergency webpage. People who use SNAP and don’t want to leave their homes to get food can authorize a trusted relative, friend or neighbor to pick up and deliver groceries using their electronic benefits card. They must contact their county or tribal financial worker to make the authorization.

Using her emergency authority to waive and modify procedures during the peacetime emergency declared by Governor Tim Walz, Human Services Commissioner Jodi Harpstead has approved these temporary changes to other economic assistance programs:

  • Eliminating paperwork, in-person meetings and other requirements that would be difficult or impossible to meet under social distancing restrictions, for economic assistance programs including the Minnesota Family Investment Program, General Assistance, Housing Support and Minnesota Supplemental Aid
  • Ensuring that people who receive assistance don’t have to repay overpayments caused by worker or system errors.

“We want people to have the nutrition and other help they need to stay healthy during this time of upheaval,” Harpstead said. “We encourage anyone who has experienced a sudden loss of income to find out if they are eligible for SNAP and other economic assistance programs.”

Minnesotans can fill out an application for SNAP online at For help applying or additional food resources, contact the Food Helpline at 1-888-711-1151 or visit Hunger Solutions.

The Minnesota Family Investment Program serves more than 29,000 families each month. MFIP provides temporary income support and employment services to families with children experiencing poverty, with Medical Assistance and child care assistance available to most families.

Temporary changes affecting MFIP include:

  • Modifying requirements so that participants won’t face sanctions if they can’t attend meetings or submit paperwork
  • Ensuring that participants experiencing family violence won’t have to be put in potentially dangerous situations, such as face-to-face meetings with an abusive partner

Executive Order 20-12, signed by Governor Walz on March 20, 2020, allows the Department of Human Services to temporarily waive or modify state requirements to ensure that services can be delivered safely and without undue delay, protecting vulnerable Minnesotans and those who care for them. The agency serves more than 1 million Minnesotans through health care programs, economic assistance programs and other programs and services.


COVID-19 Public Hotline

Questions about COVID-19?

Health questions:
651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Interpreter Services are available.

Schools and child care questions:
651-297-1304 or 1-800-657-3504, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.


We will work to provide additional updates in the coming days. Please check our MDH COVID-19 page for up-to-date information as well as the CDC COVID-19 website.


More information on the Metro Immigrant and Refugee Health Network, including meeting information, can be found here:

If you've been forwarded this email and would like to subscribe to the MIRHA email list, go here: Subscribe to Minnesota Immigrant and Refugee Health Announcements