Rising to the Occasion Together -- The Heart of Minneapolis -- April 14, 2020

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Steve.Fletcher@MinneapolisMN.gov

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In This Newsletter:


Council Member Fletcher wearing a cloth mask

Ward 3 Friends --

As we sit, collectively alone, however many days into physical distancing, we’re confronted with some hard truths, and some inspiring evidence of our capacity to support each other through this pandemic and beyond.

The hard truths: 

Despite our efforts, we’re losing people. A growing number among us know someone who has contracted the virus and died from it. Even more of us – maybe most of us – are one degree of separation from someone who has fallen victim to COVID 19, and are challenged to comfort grieving friends across physical distance. When we emerge from this pandemic, we will look around and find some people missing, and we will hurt, and mourn.

Despite our efforts, we’re losing many local businesses. The actions we’re taking to prevent greater loss of life from this virus is crushing to businesses that could not have predicted or prepared for this kind of disruption, and do not have sufficient reserves to weather this crisis. Small business owners and workers who have built these businesses for years, and sometimes decades are suffering a terrible loss. When we emerge from this pandemic, some of the businesses that contributed to our daily happiness and our sense of place will not be there any longer.

We’re losing time, and experiences. Everyone is grieving the loss of events, and social interactions, family gatherings, and vibrant crowds that are part of what make life worth living.

Inspiration: 

Together, we’re achieving something that many people cynically believed we could not accomplish. We are all, together, making sacrifices and changing our behaviors to protect each other. For some of us, that means summoning the courage to show up to do critical work that ensures our entire community is fed, and cared for, and protected. For some of us, that means stepping back and staying in, for the safety of the people whose work is too critical for isolation. The selflessness of our collective community response is breathtaking. We’re defying cynicism and showing we can act together.

The best symbol of that selflessness is the masks people are wearing when they must be out in public. The mask you wear doesn’t protect you, but it protects other people from you, in case you are carrying the infection. It was only a week ago that the CDC started recommending masks be worn in public, and there aren’t easy places to buy them, so they require a little creativity and improvisation. More and more people are finding a way to cover their faces, and it’s a meaningful gesture of caring and solidarity to protect each other that way.

We know from watching the places where the curve was not flattened that this crisis could be so much worse, and that our efforts are working. We are saving lives.

There are businesses that would have closed for good, but for the community rallying around them. The intentional efforts by so many to support local restaurants with your takeout purchases, with gift card purchases, and more are helping some businesses weather the storm, while we work to connect them with city, federal, and state financial support.

We will mourn our losses, and also celebrate our successes. When we reemerge, we will celebrate the smiles of the people who aren’t missing, who we might have lost had we not acted together. We will celebrate the businesses that persevered, that might not be there had we not leaned into supporting them. We will celebrate the workers who kept us going during this crisis with a renewed respect for the importance and dignity of their work – the janitors, bus drivers, nurses, first responders, grocery workers, and everyone else whose work was called critical during the shutdown, and will be appreciated as critical in the future, too.

Where do we go from here? 

This isn’t going to end quickly, and when we start re-emerging into public life, it will likely be gradually, and in stages. Many people will take a long time to recover, from illness, grief, lost income, lost jobs, lost livelihoods, and lost time. We have a great deal of work and collective action ahead of us to ensure that the surge of the pandemic isn’t followed by a surge in homelessness, poverty, and hunger. Many are furloughed or laid off, many are missing rent payments, and many of the nonprofit and government institutions that might normally help are experiencing their own financial crises. The City of Minneapolis itself will be facing a significant loss of revenue as we approach next year’s budget, which places real limitations on the solutions we can initiate on our own.

We have already done things that we did not think possible. Imagine someone telling you three months ago that we would make the kind of massive practical and social changes we’ve made to prevent this virus from spreading. We are capable of more than we realize, and we need to be bold and courageous in the coming months. We need to make investments in people that sound unimaginable. 

That’s why joined a majority of my colleagues, as well as a majority of Council Members in St. Paul, Council Members from surrounding suburbs and Hennepin County Commissioners in signing on to a call for a suspension of rent and of mortgage payments. This is an aggressive approach to flattening the curve on one looming crisisa wave of evictions and homelessness when the moratorium on evictions is lifted. Like the COVID-19 pandemic itself, the consequences of inaction are so great, that we’re called to get out of our comfort zones and pursue audacious, uncomfortable, and imperfect solutions to urgent dangers.

There are other ways that we’re going to need to think big to make sure we’re simultaneously solving the problems immediately in front of us and looking on the horizon to predict and understand the looming economic curves that will need to be flattened through actions as dramatic, intentional, and selfless as the actions we took to flatten the COVID infection curve.

We are living in a time that will be remembered for generations. What we do will establish the city’s story of ourselves for a long time to come. I believe we’re all playing roles we’ll look back with a sense of pride. Let’s keep rising to the occasion together, save lives, and rebuild better and more sustainably than ever.

En Avant,

Steve

 


The Latest on the COVID-19 Pandemic in Minnesota

Governor Tim Walz extended the state's stay-at-home except for essential needs order until May 4. 

  • The governor’s order to stay home is forecasted to significantly slow the spread of COVID-19, pushing out the peak of the disease and allowing the state to continue key preparations for the pandemic.
  • These preparations include building new hospital capacity and buying ventilators and masks, planning for how to protect those most at risk, expanding testing, and freeing up time to develop critical treatments for the virus. https://mn.gov/covid19/faq/
  • You can read more here from MinnPost about the data and modeling that state officials are using to make projections and public health decisions.

The CDC and Minnesota Department of Health recommend covering your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when going out in public.

  • It is possible to spread COVID-19 to others even if you do not feel sick. Wearing a cloth face cover can help protect other people in case you are infected and are not showing symptoms, and their cloth cover can help protect you.
  • Continue to keep about 6 feet between yourself and others. A cloth face cover is not a substitute for social distancing.
  • Please do not wear medical-grade or surgical masks. Those are in high need in health care facilities to protect health care workers, and if you have any unopened masks of these kinds, please consider donating them. The CDC website offers instructions for making homemade cloth masks with or without sewing.

Viruses don’t discriminate and neither should we. Help fight the stigma around mask wearing by reporting discrimination to the State anti-discrimination helpline: 1-833-454-0148.

We've updated the Resources page on my Ward 3 webpage, including resource lists for Artists & Freelancers from NEMAA, and more.

Finally, you can join me tomorrow, Wednesday the 15th, at 5pm for a virtual community office hours meeting online on Skype or by phone at 612-276-6670 (enter the conference ID 606362367#). 

 


My Previous COVID-19 Updates:

 


Applications Open for Forgivable Small Business Loans

Applications for the City’s forgivable $5,000 and $10,000 small business loans are now open, and will close on Monday, April 20 at 12 p.m.

The loans are part of the Minneapolis gap funding package for small businesses, renters, and families. Eligible businesses must be located in targeted areas, such as Cultural Districts, Promise Zones, Green Zones or ACP 50 neighborhoods. 

Documentation status does not affect eligibility. The City’s new forgivable loan is available to businesses with 20 or fewer employees and/or less than $1 million in revenue. The loans have no-payment and no-interest and are 100 percent forgivable after 12-months if the business continues to operate in Minneapolis and remains in good regulatory standing.

These loans allow eligible businesses to meet immediate working capital needs such as payroll and employee benefits, rent or mortgage payments, accounts payable and payments due to supply chain, and other critical working capital needs. The City will not be looking at credit scores, and no collateral is required.

The application is available here and will be posted in Somali, Spanish, and Hmong by the end of the day April 10.

The City is also working to launch a modified 2% loan program as part of the gap funding package. 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. Eligible businesses and self-employed workers need to have 20 or fewer employees or $1 million or less in annual revenue, and also be able to show a demonstrable impact from the pandemic. 

Learn more about Minneapolis gap funding here.

 


City Coordinating Donations for Non-Personal Protective Equipment (fixed links)

The City is managing donations of items other than personal protective equipment (PPE), such as food, cleaning supplies, homemade masks, etc. Fill out the appropriate form to:

Hennepin County has requested donations of personal protective equipment. The City of Minneapolis is not accepting donations of PPE.

 


State Expanding Energy Assistance Program

The Minnesota Department of Commerce has made some changes to the Energy Assistance Program (EAP)'s eligibility requirements and deadlines for applications to help those that may be impacted by the COVID-19 crisis and quarantine.

Energy Assistance Program (EAP) facts:

  • Renters and homeowners are eligible.
  • Assets such as the home value are not considered in determining eligibility.
  • Grants range from $200 to $1,400, based on household size, income, and fuel cost.
  • The average grant is about $500.
  • In addition to the initial grant, additional Crisis funds are available to:
    • Help pay a past due bill or get an emergency fuel delivery.
    • Help homeowners get their broken furnace repaired or replaced.

EAP changes made to help during COVID-19:

  • The application deadline is extended to July 1.
  • The annual crisis maximum is increased to $1,200 (up from $600).
  • EAP can help households pay a past due bill, even without a shut-off notice.
  • Income eligibility is based on past one month
  • EAP still has sufficient funds and expects more from the CARES Act.

Additional information may be found at:

 


Tune in to Weekly Cultural Radio Programs

The City of Minneapolis’ cultural radio programs are now airing with new content every week. Tune in and share the schedule with your family and neighbors.

Get the latest information on COVID-19 and the impacts it has on your family and community in English, Spanish, Somali and Hmong on the City’s cultural radio programs.

KMOJ 89.9 FM (English) - "Minneapolis 360"

Minneapolis 360, the City of Minneapolis' radio show on KMOJ, is increasing to a weekly schedule and moving earlier, to 1 p.m. Starting April 8, tune in every Wednesday to get the latest news about your city.

La Raza 95.7 FM (Spanish) - "Mi Ciudad"

A partir del 7 de abril, el programa de radio "Mi Ciudad" de la Ciudad de Minneapolis estará al aire cada semana. Escucha "Mi Ciudad" en La Raza 95.7 FM y 1400 AM para recibir la información más reciente sobre el coronavirus, su impacto y para conocer cuáles son los recursos disponibles en nuestra ciudad.

KALY 101.7 FM (Somali) - "Magaaladayda Minneapolis"

Waa barnaamij ka baxa raadiyaha KALY bishiiba mar oo maamulka magaaladu ugu talagalay in lagu wacyigeliyo korna loogu qaado aqoonta mowduucyada muhimadda gaarka ah u leh busha weynta Bariga Africa ee ku dhaqan Minneapolis.

WIXK AM1590 (Hmong) - "Kuv Lub Nroog Minneapolis"

Kuv lub Nroog Minneapolis suab lus Hmoob xovtooj cua WIXK yog qhov chaw sibtxua lus coj lub Nroog cov kev pab txhawb nqa pejxeem tuaj pub rau tsoom Hmoob sawvdaw kom tau paub thiab muaj kev nyab xeeb. Cov qhua tshwjxeeb tuaj koom hais lus suam huabcua yog cov paubtab thiab txawjntse txog lawv cov luag haujlwm thiab kev pab pejxeem.

Find more details and see the latest schedule updates here.

 


Provide Live Comments Remotely for Public Hearings

Now that public meetings are electronic due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people who want to participate in public hearings can do so remotely.

Find out how to participate in these meetings at minneapolismn.gov/meetings. You can watch live meeting broadcasts and get access to agendas, reports and other meeting documents.

When there are public hearings, people have the option to provide live comments by phone. Anyone interested would fill out a form found under the “participate by phone in the meeting” heading. Then they’ll get a phone number and conference code by email.

Remote participation is available for the following meetings:

  • City Council
  • City Council committees
  • Audit Committee
  • Board of Estimate & Taxation
  • Executive Committee
  • Charter Commission
  • Civil Rights Commission
  • Civil Service Commission
  • Heritage Preservation Commission
  • Planning Commission
  • Zoning Board of Adjustment

 


Keep Your Pets in Mind During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Include your pets in your emergency plan

It’s important to have a plan for your pets in case you’re unable to care for them. Minneapolis Animal Care & Control has helpful tips on how to include your pets in preparedness planning for pandemics, severe weather and other emergencies:

  1. Post a rescue alert sign.
  2. Gather information about your pets.
  3. Prepare a disaster kit for your pet.

Watch this YouTube video and visit minneapolismn.gov/animals/emergencyplanning for more information.

Protect your neighbors from dog bites and COVID-19 exposure

Minneapolis Animal Care & Control has seen a significant increase in dog bites. To keep our staff and the public safe from injuries and from COVID-19 exposure, we need your cooperation.

  • All dogs must be on a leash when outside or contained on your property per ordinance.
  • Animals off leashes are more likely to get injured, injure others, or be lost or stolen.
  • Keep cats inside and from roaming.
  • Remember to keep 6 feet apart everywhere – even at parks – and avoid gatherings.

 


Nice Ride Returns for 2020 Season, Will Help Critical Health Care Workers

The Nice Ride Minnesota bike share system has returned for the 2020 riding season. COVID-19 has radically changed Minneapolis transportation: there’s far less car and truck traffic in the streets, and transit options are curtailed, making cycling safer and easier and elevating biking toward the top of our transportation choices for essential trips.

Free 30-day memberships for critical health care workers

Lyft and Nice Ride are also giving critical health care workers free 30-day bikeshare memberships through May 6. Eligible health care workers can sign up through their employers to access unlimited 60-minute trips on classic bikes for 30 days.

Keeping bikes disinfected

Nice Ride is following guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Minnesota Department of Health. High-contact surfaces on bikes will be disinfected each time they arrive in the Nice Ride depot. High contact surfaces on vans used to transport vehicles will also be disinfected at the start of each shift. In addition, Nice Ride associates are wearing gloves when handling bikes both in the depot and at high traffic stations.

For more about using Nice Ride, visit niceridemn.com.

 


(Virtual) Coffee With Your Council Member

Grab Coffee with Council Member Steve Fletcher

I normally hold regular open community office hours at 5:00 p.m. on Wednesdays, at a rotating neighborhood coffee shop in Ward 3 for constituents to drop by, ask questions, and raise any issues you see in the community. 

This week, I will hold my community office hours remotely on Skype: 

Tomorrow, Wednesday, April 15, 5:00 P.M.

Click here to join the Skype meeting! Trouble Joining? Try the Skype Web App.

Or: join by phone at 612-276-6670 and enter the conference ID 606362367#

 

If you have questions or a topic to discuss, email Aurin.Chowdhury@minneapolismn.gov to RSVP.

 


Neighborhood Event Calendars

Want to know what's happening around Ward 3? Check out these event calendars!

 


If you need a reasonable accommodation to fully participate or if you need information in an alternative format, please contact 311 (612-673-3000). TTY users call 612-673-2157.

Para asistencia 612-673-2700 · Yog xav tau kev pab, hu 612-673-2800 · Hadii aad Caawimaad u baahantahay 612-673-3500

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