Bonnie’s Message about Covid-19

Mar 20, 2020

Dear Friends –

If you are anything like me, the past few weeks have been extremely difficult as every aspect of life has changed at break-neck speed. I’ve felt at times like the ground beneath my feet was constantly shifting and I couldn’t quite get my balance. So if you are feeling scared or anxious or sad, you are in good company. Hopefully, along with the uncertainty, you have also experienced moments of gratitude, humor, love, and support. 

It is stating the obvious to say we are in an unprecedented time. The current health crisis is real and its impact is far-reaching. Many are facing the loss of income, trying to get a handle on working from home and distance learning for the kids, worrying about one’s own health or the health of loved ones. It’s a lot. So be gentle with yourself. 

I am grateful for the leadership of Governor Walz and Lt. Governor Flanagan and their entire administration. Governor Walz has responded decisively and swiftly. As a result, Minnesota is in better shape than many other places around the country. The steps that have been taken to “flatten the curve” are critical and necessary. Please, continue to practice social distancing and don’t go out to public places unless absolutely necessary. And wash your hands! If everyone follows the guidelines that have been issued, our chances of staying healthy and stopping the spread of COVID-19 are much higher, and it is less likely that our healthcare system will become overwhelmed beyond current capacity. So stay home and stay safe.

And of course, our campaign has had to adapt to the current situation and we will continue to observe social distancing until public health authorities say otherwise. This means that we will not be doorknocking or holding any in-person events (including campaign meetings), but we hope to have some digital events, such as online town hall meetings, up and running in the near future. So stay tuned. 

This current crisis should certainly end any debate about the existence of deep, structural inequities in our society. A booming stock market may benefit some, but it is not an accurate indicator of the economic health of working families and those who are experiencing poverty. Our healthcare system is broken and now we see critical shortages of personnel and equipment when we need them the most. 

Our incredibly underfunded public education system has been doing so much with so little for so long. And even now, when we are doing distance learning, our schools and our teachers are working tirelessly to not only continue teaching our kids, but to continue providing meals as well. They have had to figure out how to help families who do not have access to technology and the internet so that kids who may already be struggling to keep up in school do not fall further behind. 

Small businesses, in particular, are deeply affected by this crisis, and many are worried that they may have no business left when this crisis is over. The CARES Act recently passed by Congress is providing assistance to small businesses, as well as providing expanded unemployment benefits, including gig workers and independent contractors. Minnesota is providing help by opening up enrollment in MNSure for those who no longer have health insurance due to a job loss. 

Here are some helpful links to find detailed information about the COVID-19 response in Minnesota, unemployment, CDC information and federal programs to help small businesses:

We will get through this together by remembering that we are, as Governor Walz and Lt. Governor Flanagan say, #OneMinnesota. When we set aside our differences and focus on our common values and our common humanity, I know that we can overcome any challenge.

Be well and be safe. And please do not hesitate to reach out to me if you have any concerns or questions or need help with something. 

Yours truly,

Bonnie Westlin