BLOOMINGTON, MINN. (WCCO) — The $1.9 trillion federal pandemic relief package will send billions to Minnesota to help with testing and vaccine rollout, a critical tool to help accelerate distribution, the state’s top health official said Monday.
The $7.5 billion earmarked for vaccines will “supercharge” Minnesota’s response, state leaders say. Of that funding, the state is expected to received $85 million, state budget experts predict.READ MORE: COVID In Minnesota: As State Reaches 2 Million With First Vaccine Dose, MDH Reports 1,784 Cases, 13 Deaths Sunday
More than 22% of Minnesota’s population — 1.26 million — has already received at least one dose, and Gov. Tim Walz anticipates any adult should have access to their shot by June. The state recently expanded eligibility to include people with certain underlying health conditions and a share of the essential workforce.
The money is part of an effort to ensure everyone who wants a vaccine, regardless of insurance, can get one. Walz, U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, and others in the Minnesota Congressional delegation at a news conference at a mass vaccination site at Mall of America on Monday praised the bill as much-needed relief for America families and businesses.
“This vaccine isn’t going to suddenly parachute in the middle of Hastings,” said Klobuchar. “We’ve got to have a distribution system ramped up more and more and more with each week, so that is the heart of this bill.”
Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcom said the federal funds will help the state open sites, like the community site at Mall of America, and distribute vaccine to local pharmacies. She also said it will help with mobile vaccine clinics designed for hard-to-reach communities who are often suffering the worst outcomes of the pandemic.
READ MORE: Minnesota Stares Down Another COVID-19 Surge
“The vaccine does no good in the vial. It’s got to get delivered to people,” said Malcolm. “This the one of the most complex operations in public health in our, in our history. And we can’t do it without the support the people and the in the infrastructure to get the vaccines administered. So this is going to just accelerate our recovery from this pandemic.”
Minnesota will also receive billions in state and local government aid on top of funds from other targeted programs like direct payments to individuals, childcare assistance to families and grants to restaurants that have had to shutter and scale back operations during the pandemic.
The American Rescue Plan, which President Joe Biden signed into law last week, received no support from Republicans in Congress, but a recent poll from Pew Research Center shows overall 70% of Americans approve of the third stimulus package, including 41% of Republicans.
“For months, as we watched our state budgets, as we watched family budgets, as we watched county budgets, and we understood what this was doing, we were asking for a bold piece of legislation,” Walz said. “We couldn’t have asked for more.”
On Monday, Gov. Walz’s latest executive order took effect, easing some restrictions on social gatherings and capacity limits at restaurants and religious services. Large venues — with social distancing measures in place — can have thousands of people again beginning April 1, including 10,000 fans Minnesota Twins’ opening game at Target Field.
——-MORE NEWS: COVID In Minnesota: 2,454 New Cases And 12 Deaths Reported; Over 30% Of Eligible Minnesotans Are Fully Vaccinated
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story described the $7.5 billion in the American Rescue Plan as the allocation for Minnesota’s vaccine distribution, rather than the total amount in the bill for all states. The story has been corrected and updated to reflect an estimate of $85 million, according Minnesota Department of Management and Budget, which detailed Minnesota’s share of federal stimulus money to a state legislative panel on March 22.