It is a difficult time for individuals throughout the world as many people’s lives are being quickly changed and challenged by the outbreak of Coronavirus and the exponential spread of the illness it causes, COVID-19. This is why Metropolitan Comm
unity Services (MCS) is highlighting some everyday health tips and resources Minnesotans can use during this time.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that spreads from person-to-person and from contact with contaminated objects and surfaces. COVID-19 is a new disease, which means that scientists are still trying to find answers to the severity of the illness and how it may spread in the U.S.
It is known that older adults and people with serious chronic medical conditions have a higher risk of becoming ill from COVID-19 and suffering extreme complications or fatality because of the illness.
What Can You Do to Prevent the Spread and Lessen Your Chances of Infection?
MCS recommends taking the following precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to decrease your chances of infection:
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
Distance yourself from people who are sick.
Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue or use the inside of your elbow when coughing or sneezing, not your hands.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and items regularly. This includes tables, doorknobs, phones, computers, sinks, appliances and light switches.
If you are sick, stay home.
Wear a face cover when going out in public, for example to the grocery store or to pick up other necessities.
Stock your household with food staples, household supplies and medications.
Stay informed with the latest updates in your community. Share information with community members that do not have access to safety information.
To find updated information for Minnesota, please visit the Minnesota Department of Health website: https://www.health.state.mn.us/. For additional information on how to best protect yourself and others, please visit the CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.
What Resources are Available to Individuals During COVID-19?
Decisions to close K-12 schools around the Twin Cities affected many students/families who primarily rely on the school districts for student meals. In response to this decision, many businesses and school districts are offering free meals for students and families affected by COVID-19.
Restaurants offering free meals: https://twincities.eater.com/2020/3/16/21180958/twin-cities-restaurants-feed-kids-minnesota-schools-close-covid-19-cornoa-virus-outbreak.
Hope Breakfast Bar offering free meals to families in need: https://www.hopebreakfast.com/give-hope.
The Sheridan Story is an organization helping fight hunger by distributing meals to over 20 YMCA branches in the Twin Cities, Rochester and Hudson areas, and over 30 school districts in Minnesota and Wisconsin. https://www.thesheridanstory.org/coronavirus/. To find out whether a school district is offering meal services, please contact your local school districts directly.
Hunger Impact Partners has developed an application that can be downloaded on a smartphone device or tablet that can help you locate places offering free meals for children: https://hungerimpactpartners.org/.
CSR Minneapolis also provides information on where to locate free meals in the Twin Cities Metro: https://csrmpls.info/free-meals.
The Minnesota Department of Education has also put together resources on food and nutrition for students: https://education.mn.gov/MDE/dse/health/covid19/fnscovid19/.
With a number of childcare providers being closed and many individuals still working as they are providing critical services, there are resources in place to assist those individuals.
For more information on current childcare providers, please see the following: https://mn.gov/mmb/childcare/families/.
As schools are presently closed and distance learning becoming the "new normal," there are additional programs and tools that can be utilized to facilitate distance learning.
National Association for Gifted Children Resources for Educators & Parents During COVID-19: https://www.nagc.org/resources-publications/resources/resources-educators-parents-during-covid-19.
Prairie Public and PBSLearningMedia: https://www.prairiepublic.org/education/covidresources/.
NASA has created online activities for children: https://www.nasa.gov/specials/nasaathome/index.html.
LifeScience has put out an article on "Activities and online resources for homebound kids: A coronavirus guide": https://www.livescience.com/coronavirus-kids-activities.html.
If your employment status has been affected by COVID-19, there are some steps that can be taken to help minimize your economic impact.
At Metropolitan Community Services, we are always looking for Personal Care Assistants, Homemakers, and Direct Support Professionals to serve our clients. For more information on employment at MCS, please contact us at 952-658-8995 or email@example.com.
Minnesota has changed its rules to allow for individuals who have lost their jobs, have seen a reduction of hours, or who's employments has otherwise been impacted as outlined by UIMN due to COVID-19 to obtain unemployment benefits. For detailed information and steps on how to apply, visit the UIMN COVID-19 page: https://www.uimn.org/applicants/needtoknow/news-updates/covid-19.jsp.
Many employers in Minnesota that perform essential services are hiring in order to help minimize the unemployment rates in Minnesota due to COVID-19. The Minnesota Employment and Economic Development office has created a resource page for individuals looking to find employment during the present COVID-19 outbreak: https://mn.gov/deed/newscenter/covid/workers/hiring/.
MNsure is offering an emergency special enrollment period (SEP) in response to COVID-19 for qualified individuals who are currently without insurance. This SEP will allow uninsured individuals to enroll in health insurance coverage through MNsure through Tuesday, April 21, 2020 at 11:59 PM.
You may also qualify for a SEP if you lost or will lose minimum essential coverage because of any of the following:
You or your dependent loses employer-sponsored coverage (includes end of continuation coverage such as COBRA and retiree coverage);
There’s been a change to a dependent’s status, such as turning 26 years old and losing coverage through a parent’s plan;
An employer ends your coverage;
You or your spouse lose employer-sponsored coverage when you lose or leave a job;
You've reached the end of your non-calendar year plan;
You lose coverage in Medical Assistance (MA) or MinnesotaCare;
You lose other government-sponsored coverage such as most types of TRICARE.
At MCS, we have certified MNsure navigators that can help you enroll in coverage if you have been impacted by COVID-19 or any of the above events apply to you. For more information, contact us at 952-658-8995 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Although the resources provided above are not all of the resources presently available due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they are the ones that MCS is presently aware about.