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This guide was last updated on January 4, 2021. Please consult the Minnesota Department of Health's Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) website for the most current COVID-19 status updates.                    

Minnesota Issue Guide

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

This guide is compiled by staff at the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library on a topic of interest to state legislators. It introduces the topic and points to sources for further research. It is not intended to be exhaustive.

Executive Branch   Legislative Branch   Judicial Branch

Legislative History   Books and Reports   Articles   Internet Resources   Additional Library Resources

A novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, was first detected in China in late 2019 and the coronavirus disease, COVID-19, rapidly spread through most countries of the world in the first months of 2020. The World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared it a pandemic on March 11, 2020. President Donald Trump declared a national emergency on March 13, 2020.

On April 7, 2020 President Trump issued a disaster declaration for Minnesota. Governor Tim Walz had asked the president to issue the declaration to allow federal funds to flow to the state to help combat the coronavirus disease outbreak. The money was slated for crisis counseling, supplemental nutrition programs, medical assistance, funeral aid, and other needs. Minnesota's congressional delegation had urged the Trump administration to approve the request.

The three branches of Minnesota state government have continued to actively respond to this evolving situation. The website, Minnesota COVID-19 Response, provides the latest information on COVID-19 including a public dashboard of current data. An additional feature is Minnesota's COVID-19 Response Capacity, an overview of the data tracked by the governor’s COVID-19 response team. 

Minnesota Executive Branch 

With the issuance of Executive Order 20-01 on March 13, 2020, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz declared a peacetime state of emergency in the state. He directed all Minnesota state agencies to submit proposed orders and rules to protect and preserve public health and safety.

On March 15, 2020 Gov. Walz issued Executive Order 20-02, authorizing and directing the Commissioner of Education to temporarily close schools through March 27, 2020 to plan for a safe educational environment. Under Minnesota Statutes 2019, section 12.21, subdivision 3, he is permitted to authorize the Commissioner of Education "to alter school schedules, curtail school activities, or order schools closed." Executive Order 20-19, issued on March 25, 2020, established a "Distance Learning Period" beginning on March 30, 2020 through May 4, 2020. During that period school buildings were closed. This order was extended through the end of the 2019-2020 school year on April 23, 2020 by Executive Order 20-41.

Following the Minnesota Department of Health’s announcement on March 16, 2020 that the number of COVID-19 cases in Minnesota had climbed past 50, with multiple cases of community transmission, Gov. Walz signed three additional executive orders. Emergency Executive Order 20-03, protecting residents of Minnesota veteran's homes during the COVID-19 peacetime emergency, as well as Executive Order 20-04, ordering the temporary closure of Minnesota restaurants and bars to dine-in customers. Affected businesses were to close by 5:00 pm on Tuesday, March 17. Delivery and curbside take-out services were permitted with community transmission mitigation strategies in place. Gov. Walz also ordered the temporary closure of other places of public accommodation and amusement including theaters, museums, fitness centers, and community clubs.

Executive Order 20-05 was the third order signed on March 16, 2020. This executive order strengthened Minnesota’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund (Minnesota Statutes 268.194) and ensured that workers who were not able to work as a result of COVID-19 had benefits available. The order waived the employer surcharge and allowed the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) to pay unemployment benefits immediately.

On March 25, 2020, Gov. Walz issued Executive Order 20-20, which directed Minnesotans to stay at home, except for essential services, for two weeks beginning at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, March 27. Gov. Walz's COVID-19 website, launched on March 27, 2020.

The governor's State of the State Address, delivered on Sunday evening, April 5, 2020, focused on the state's response to COVID-19 and was presented under unique circumstances. Gov. Walz spoke to Minnesotans live from the governor's mansion in St. Paul where he was self-quarantined after a staff member had been diagnosed with COVID-19. The speech was streamed online and broadcast by some television stations. 

On April 8, 2020, the governor issued Executive Order 20-33, extending the stay-at-home order through Sunday, May 3, 2020. The stay at home order directed Minnesotans to limit movements outside of their homes beyond essential needs and is separate from the peacetime emergency declaration. On April 13, 2020, Gov. Walz issued Executive Order 20-35, extending Minnesota's COVID-19 peacetime emergency for 30 days.

Gov. Walz announced Thursday, April 16, 2020, that he would join a bipartisan group of seven Midwestern governors to coordinate the reopening of their state economies in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The agreement includes Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Kentucky. The governors said they will focus on at least four factors in determining the ideal time to reopen their states' economies: sustained control of new infection and hospitalization rates, enhanced testing and tracing capabilities, adequate health care capacity to respond to a resurgence and best workplace social distancing techniques. The Midwestern alliance joins similar pacts on the West Coast and in the Northeast that were announced earlier that week.

As part of efforts to outline next steps for the COVID-19 response in Minnesota, on April 23, 2020, Gov. Walz extended distance learning through the end of the school year, announced a plan for up to 100,000 workers to return to their jobs starting Monday, April 27, 2020, and explained the different factors determining the gradual re-opening of society in Minnesota. The previous day, his administration had announced a statewide strategy for widespread testing.

On April 30, 2020, Gov. Walz announced another extension of Minnesota's Stay at Home Order. Executive Order 20-48 extended the Order through May 18, 2020 and provided new flexibility allowing some retailers to reopen with curbside pickup or delivery for customers.

May 13, 2020, a few days before the end of the regular legislative session, saw four new executive orders as Governor Walz' administration continued to focus on reopening Minnesota's economy. Executive Order 20-53 extended the peacetime emergency powers of the governor through June 12, 2020, unless rescinded by the Legislature before that date. Also issued were Executive Order, 20-54, protecting workers from unsafe working conditions and retaliation, and Executive Order 20-55, protecting the rights and health of at-risk populations.

The safe reopening of additional places of employment and the safe expansion of non-work activities were the focus of the governor’s fourth order that day, Executive Order 20-56. Effective May 17, 2020 at 11:59 pm and remaining in effect through May 31, 2020, the order required continued work-from-home practices whenever possible but allowed additional "non-essential" businesses to open once they have met guidelines and requirements for social distancing, hygiene, and public health best practices. The order extended the temporary closure of bars, restaurants, and other places of public accommodation through May 31, 2020. The executive order also provided new guidance on outdoor recreational activities and the businesses that support them. While Minnesotans were still asked to stay close to home, the order allowed for social gatherings of up to 10 people. The governor strongly recommended that those at risk of severe illness from COVID-19 continue to stay home and encouraged everyone to wear a mask in public settings. Some businesses began requiring customers to wear masks.

Executive Order 20-63, issued on May 27, 2020, implemented Phase II of the Stay Safe MN Plan. Phase II outlined a plan for restaurants and bars to start reopening for outdoor dining on June 1, 2020, with capacity limits and safety measures in place. Personal services like salons and barbershops would be allowed to open at 25 percent capacity, with safety measures in place.

With the issuance of Executive Order 20-74 on June 5, 2020, Gov. Walz provided plans for the safe reopening of additional businesses, including limited indoor dining. Guidance was also provided for the gradual expansion of indoor gatherings at places of worship, entertainment venues, and gyms. Organized youth sports and other youth programs were also permitted to operate if criteria were met. The governor encouraged Minnesotans to continue social distancing and to wear masks in public settings. When the Executive Order 20-74 became effective on June 10, 2020, Executive Order 20-63 was rescinded.

Minnesota Statutes 2019, section 12.31, subdivision 2(b), provides that, if the governor determines a need to extend a peacetime emergency beyond 30 days and the Legislature is not sitting in session, the governor must issue a call immediately convening both houses of the Legislature. As Gov. Walz has continued to extend his peacetime state of emergency declaration each month through the summer and into the fall, he has also called the Legislature back into special session to coincide with each extension.

Gov. Walz issued a Proclamation for Special Session on June 10, 2020, summoning the members of the Legislature to convene in a special session at noon Friday, June 12, 2020. The first day of that special session he extended the COVID-19 peacetime emergency by 30 days to help the state continue to respond to the pandemic. On June 16, 2020 Gov. Walz signed HF5 into law (see Laws of Minnesota 2020, 1st Sp. Sess., chap. 1), a bipartisan bill that provided $62.5 million in grants for small businesses impacted by COVID-19. The bill included $60 million from the federal CARES Act, and $2.5 million from DEED's Emergency Loan Program.

Signaling his intention to again extend the peacetime emergency declaration for 30 days in mid-July, Gov. Walz summoned the members of the Legislature in a second Proclamation for Special Session to convene in another special session on Monday, July 13, 2020, at 12 p.m.  The governor signed two pieces of legislation on July 23, 2020: Laws of Minnesota 2020, 2nd Sp. Sess., chap. 1, the Minnesota Police Accountability Act and Laws of Minnesota 2020, 2nd Sp. Sess., chap. 2, which contains provisions to address the backlog of Minnesotans waiting to take a knowledge test or road test to obtain a driver’s license.

Executive Order 20-81, signed July 22, 2020, required Minnesotans to wear a mask or face covering "in certain settings to prevent the spread of COVID-19." The Minnesota Department of Health issued detailed guidance about the face covering requirement.

On August 7, 2020 Gov. Walz again issued a Proclamation for Special Session to convene the summer's third special session beginning on Wednesday, August 12, 2020, to coincide with another 30-day extension of the COVID-19 peacetime emergency. The third special session of the summer adjourned after a few hours of discussion and the passage of two laws. That same day, Gov. Walz signed Executive Order 20-83, extending the COVID-19 peacetime emergency that gives the state flexibility in responding to COVID-19 issues. He also issued Executive Order 20-84, rescinding Emergency Executive Orders 20-15, 20-16, and 20-32 and amending Executive Order 20-23.

Ramsey County District Court Judge Thomas Gilligan ruled in favor of Gov. Walz on September 1, 2020 over a lawsuit filed by members of the Free Minnesota Small Business Coalition. The group of businesses, along with thirteen Republican legislators, contended the governor was abusing his power and interfering with the legislative process. Upholding the constitutionality of the governor’s actions, Judge Gilligan wrote: "The COVID-19 pandemic constitutes an act of nature that provides the governor with the basis to declare a peacetime state of emergency."

In a Proclamation for Special Session issued September 9, 2020, Gov. Walz summoned the members of the Legislature to convene in a fourth special session on Friday, September 11, 2020. The governor signed Executive Order 20-89 extending the COVID-19 peacetime emergency originally declared in Executive Order 20-01 and filed it with the Office of the Secretary of State that same day. No bills passed the Legislature in the fourth special session.

The State of Minnesota formed the COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation Advisory Group in September, 2020. The group includes experts from across the state who review guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) about who should get the vaccine first, and then make detailed recommendations for how to apply the guidelines in Minnesota. The Minnesota advisory group is made up of statewide representatives of leading care providers; bioethicists; state, local, and tribal public health representatives; health care associations; and people representing diverse community groups. Advisory group members were identified by Minnesota Department of Health staff in consultation with MDH leadership, the Governor's office, and other advisory group members based on areas of expertise that were needed for providing input on vaccine allocation.

On October 7, 2020, Gov. Walz issued a Proclamation for Special Session, summoning members of the Legislature to convene once again in a fifth special session. On October 12, 2020, Gov. Walz signed Executive Order 20-92, announcing his intention to extend the COVID-19 peacetime emergency in Minnesota. Following a four day special session, the governor was presented with a bonding bill passed with bipartisan support intended to provide an infusion of cash and jobs into state and local economies devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Gov. Walz signed HF1 (see Laws of Minnesota 2020, 5th Sp. Sess., chap. 3) on October 21, 2020. 

Preparing the way for a sixth special session, Gov. Walz issued a Proclamation for Special Session on November 9, 2020, calling the House and Senate back to St. Paul on November 12, 2020. The governor extended the COVID-19 peacetime emergency by another 30 days. No bills passed the Legislature in the sixth special session.

Gov. Walz announced Monday, November 23, 2020, via a press conference and a with a letter to legislative leaders, that he plans to call a seventh special session in early December. His hope is to push through a COVID-19 small-business relief package to fill in gaps created by the federal government’s failure to pass a new stimulus bill. The governor's team has been working with House leadership on legislation to provide temporary relief to communities, small businesses and individual workers. 

On December 9, 2020, Governor Walz announced he would convene a special session of the Minnesota Legislature beginning on Monday, December 14, 2020 in order to pass legislation to provide assistance to small businesses, workers, and families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. He extended the COVID-19 peacetime emergency by another 30 days and signed two bills passed in the seventh special session.

On Monday, December 18, the first COVID-19 vaccine shipments arrived in Minnesota. Governor Walz visited the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Medical Center to greet the very first shipment’s arrival. In the week following, nearly 3,000 frontline health care workers were vaccinated for COVID-19. 

For more information on formal actions taken by Gov. Walz in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, please see the Legislative Library's complete list of Executive Orders.

Minnesota Legislative Branch

The COVID-19 response affected the Legislature and legislative processes throughout the spring, summer, and fall. After Governor Tim Walz declared a peacetime emergency in Minnesota on March 13, 2020, the Legislature began to significantly modify its calendar and processes. On Monday, March 16, 2020, the House introduced HC3, a House Concurrent Resolution relating to adjournment of the House of Representatives and Senate. It passed both the House and Senate and allowed the Legislature to adjourn for an extended period of time, reconvening when "the public interest... warrants it." This also gave the House and Senate flexibility as they developed plans for legislative activity in light of the pandemic and peacetime emergency declaration. 

Minnesota lawmakers returned to the State Capitol on Thursday, March 26, 2020 to approve HF4531*/SF4451, a $330 million COVID-19 emergency response bill. The bill included a $200 million General Fund appropriation to create a COVID-19 Fund to help state agencies respond to the outbreak, as well as funding for child-care providers, homeless shelters, and food banks. Additionally, a Legislative COVID-19 Response Commission, made up of legislative leaders and chairs and ranking members of House and Senate finance committees, was created to review expenditures from the fund greater than $1 million. The bill passed 99-4 in the House and 67-0 in the Senate. Laws of Minnesota 2020, chap. 71 was signed by Gov.r Walz on March 28, 2020.

During the March 26, 2020 floor session, the House adopted a new rule, 10.01 Emergency House Operations. The new rule allows for "floor and committee procedures related to member debate and voting to occur by means of distance voting, remote electronic voting, or voting by other means designed to allow legislative operations while preserving the safety of the public, staff, and members." The Senate passed SR227 that same day, the first of three resolutions that made changes to Senate Rules to allow modifications to their processes in light of the pandemic. The two additional resolutions related to Senate Rule changes passed in April: SR229 passed on April 7, 2020 and SR230 passed on April 14, 2020.

The House and Senate held floor sessions on April 7, 2020 and passed HF4537*/SF4458. The bill modified workers' compensation provisions for several categories of workers, including first responders and health care providers, who contract COVID-19. Laws of Minnesota 2020, chap. 72 was signed by Gov. Walz that same day.

The House and Senate held the next floor sessions on April 14, 2020 to approve a fourth round of COVID-19 legislation (HF4556*/SF4462). Laws of Minnesota 2020, chap. 74 includes policy provisions designed to help various levels of state government and society adjust to the pandemic. Included are extended deadlines for court filings, teleworking for local government workers, and the ability for Minnesotans to apply for a marriage license remotely. Gov. Walz signed the legislation on Wednesday, April 15, 2020. 

In mid-April the Legislature resumed more regular and frequent committee hearings and floor sessions. Committee hearings were primarily held remotely, under newly adopted rules (see House Rule 10.01 and Senate Resolution 229). Floor session processes were also modified in keeping with safe workplace and social distancing guidelines from the Minnesota Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). On May 4, 2020 legislative leaders issued a letter asking chairs to finalize agreements on legislation by May 9, 2020.

In the final weeks of the 2020 regular session, both the Senate and House overwhelmingly approved HF 3429, a bill that outlines procedures for the upcoming 2020 state primary and general election during the pandemic. The law gives new authority to cities for handling upcoming elections, such as allowing for the processing of absentee ballots 14 days before the election instead of seven, and up to three days following the election. Laws of Minnesota 2020, chap. 77 was signed by Gov. Walz on May 12, 2020. The new law, which took effect on May 13, 2020, also appropriates federal money made available to the state through the Help America Vote Act (HAVA).

The 2020 regular session ended on Sunday, May 17, 2020. Work still needing the attention of legislators included the oversight of federal coronavirus relief funds. 

The Minnesota Legislature convened in the first special session of the year on June 12, 2020. The timing of Friday’s special session was brought about by the governor’s decision to again extend the peacetime emergency declaration for 30 days, granting his administration emergency powers to take certain actions without legislative approval. Gov. Walz said the declaration also allows Minnesota access to $50 million in federal assistance each month. Minnesota law requires the governor to call lawmakers back into session so they can vote on whether the peacetime emergency declaration should come to an end. 

Legislators planned to address financial assistance for local governments and small businesses dealing with COVID-19, in addition to completing work from the regular session. Legislation on police accountability and criminal justice reform was also introduced, spurred in part by the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020 while in police custody in Minneapolis.

One measure that received a lot of attention in the first special session was a plan to distribute federal funds to cities, counties, and townships for pandemic-related expenses (SF47). Despite an agreement among all four caucuses on distributing federal Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) money to local governments, the Legislature failed to pass the bill before adjourning the special session sine die on June 20, 2020. 

Gov. Walz brought the Minnesota Legislature back in a second special session on July 13, 2020. Upon reconvening, the Republican-controlled Minnesota Senate voted 36-31 in favor of Senate Concurrent Resolution 1, denying a request by Gov. Walz to extend his emergency powers for 30 days. In a 63-70 vote, the House voted down a motion to suspend the rules to take up House Concurrent Resolution 1, which proposed to terminate the peacetime emergency.

Both chambers adjourned sine die after midnight on July 21, 2020 without passing a local jobs and projects (bonding) bill, a tax bill, or a supplemental state budget. The vote in the House on the proposed $1.8 billion bonding bill was 75-57, short of the two-thirds majority needed for passage. Significant police reform legislation that includes a statewide ban on chokeholds and neck restraints, a prohibition on "warrior-style" training for officers, and the creation of a independent unit at the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to investigate police incidents that end in a fatality passed during the night (HF1*/SF37).

In the third special session of the summer, convened on August 12, 2020, the DFL-controlled House allowed Gov. Walz's pandemic-related emergency powers to remain by rejecting a move to bring up a resolution aimed at ending them — and also passed more than $30 million in grant assistance for disability service providers before wrapping up the four-hour special session Wednesday afternoon. Earlier in the day, the Senate had voted, mostly on party lines, to rescind Walz’s peacetime emergency declared to respond to COVID-19.

The Minnesota Legislature met in a historic fourth special session on Friday, September 11, 2020. In a 64-67 vote, the House voted down a concurrent resolution that would have ended Gov. Walz’s peacetime emergency powers in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Senate voted for a fourth time to rescind Walz’s emergency powers, passing Senate Concurrent Resolution 1 36-31. Another first for this fourth special session is that no laws were passed.

Minnesota's fifth special session convened on October 12, 2020 and for the fifth time that year, the Senate voted to rescind Walz's emergency powers, passing Senate Concurrent Resolution 1 by a 36-31 vote. The Minnesota House voted down House Concurrent Resolution 1 to terminate the peacetime emergency by 64-69. On October 14, 2020, special session bonding bill HF1 passed in the House by a vote of 100-34. Twenty-five Republicans joined all 75 House DFL members to provide the three-fifths majority needed to pass the bill. The following day, the Senate voted 64-3 in favor of the public works infrastructure package. The nearly $1.9 billion bonding bill is the largest in state history. Laws of Minnesota 2020, 5th Sp. Sess., chap. 3 was approved by Gov. Walz on October 21, 2020. 

On November 12, 2020, the Minnesota House and Senate convened for a sixth special session, with many members participating remotely. In the House, a motion to bring up a resolution that would have ended the governor’s emergency powers was dismissed by a quick voice vote. Legislators spent nearly three hours discussing a motion to consider SS HF19, which would have given the Legislature more oversight of the governor’s powers rather than ending them outright. The motion failed 73-60.

Senate Republicans did not vote to rescind Gov. Walz’s emergency powers during the sixth special session, a departure from actions taken in previous special sessions. Thursday's Senate floor session was brief, but lawmakers did take a vote to install a new Senate president: Senator David Tomassoni, a Democrat. He replaces Republican state Senator Jeremy Miller. On a 63-4 vote, Sen. Tomassoni became the first Senate president of the opposing party to serve in the role. No legislation was passed in the sixth special session.

Lawmakers gathered Monday, December 14, 2020, in a seventh special session. They approved a $242 million COVID-19 relief package (SF31), providing aid to struggling businesses and extending unemployment insurance to workers whose benefits could dry up after the holidays. Senate Republicans and some Democrats made another attempt to end Walz's emergency powers, which allow him to order the closure of businesses. The Senate voted 40-25 on Senate Concurrent Resolution 1 to end the emergency powers, but House Democrats declined to take a similar vote. 

The House of Representatives COVID-19 legislative action page and the 2020 Senate COVID-19 legislative information and 2021 Senate COVID-19 legislative information pages provide regular updates on legislative action. Further information is published in Session Daily, a nonpartisan news service from the House Public Information Office.

Minnesota Judicial Branch

Minnesota courts and federal courts with jurisdiction in Minnesota are making modifications to their calendars and procedures due to COVID-19. 

On March 20, 2020, Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court Lorie S. Gildea issued statewide order, ADM20-8001, "Continuing Operations of the Courts of the State of Minnesota Under a Statewide Peacetime Declaration of Emergency." The order restricts in-person access to courthouses for only specific, designated case types and opens up additional opportunities for remote hearings that must occur during the COVID-19 pandemic. The order went into effect on Monday, March 23, 2020, and was to remain in effect for the next 30 days or until the issuance of another order. In response to the evolving situation, the order was updated on March 23, 2020. The order was further updated on March 26, 2020 in response to the "stay-at-home" Executive Order 20-20 issued by Governor Tim Walz on March 25, 2020. 

Following Gov. Walz’s extension of his Stay at Home Order, Executive Order 20-33, Chief Justice Gildea issued a new statewide order on April 9, 2020, which superseded all prior orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The order was effective immediately and ran until May 4, 2020. It maintained certain provisions from the prior orders, including restrictions for in-courtroom hearings; requiring hearings by remote technology for all other case types and hearings; and allowing for certain fine and fee due dates to be delayed by 60 days.

Chief Justice Gildea's Administrative Order from May 1, 2020 extended the limited physical access to courthouses until May 18, 2020, in order to reduce and slow the spread of COVID-19.

On May 15, 2020, Chief Justice Gildea issued an order in response to Gov. Walz’s May 13, 2020 decision to allow the state's stay-at-home directive to expire. Following Minnesota Department of Health guidance, Chief Justice Gildea's order included details for a planned and gradual approach to increase the number and type of in-person proceedings held in court facilities.

On May 28, 2020 Chief Justice Gildea ordered each District Court in every county, and all of the state-level appellate courts, to open at least one public service counter by June 15, 2020. Courts must comply with the Judicial Council-approved Minnesota Judicial Branch COVID-19 Preparedness Plan ahead of their reopening dates. The Preparedness Plan addresses exposure control measures and specific recommendations courts will follow in order to reopen for in-person courthouse activities. Litigants, attorneys, media, and members of the public who will be visiting courthouses should visit the new reopening webpage before visiting a courthouse. The webpage lists cleaning, face covering, and social distancing procedures that will be followed by court staff. It also has information for jurors, and details for people who have questions about their local courthouse procedures.

On November 20, 2020 the Minnesota Judicial Council filed an order limiting in-person activity in court facilities, requiring remote hearings, to go into effect on November 30th. The new order puts a 60-day pause on almost all in-person criminal jury trials. There will be an exception process, but nearly all trials will revert to virtual proceedings—unless doing so is “impossible or there is an emergency.”  The order effectively re-imposes the court shutdown imposed in the opening weeks of the pandemic and is effective until February 1, 2021. In-person, over-the-counter services will remain available by appointment.

Please see this COVID-19 Information web page from the Minnesota Judicial Branch for the most up to date information on courthouse activities.

Legislative History

Key Minnesota Statutes

Legislative Action Pertaining to COVID-19

The following summarizes selected laws only. You may also want to see the House Research Department COVID-19 Activity page, the 2020 Senate COVID-19 Legislative Information page, the 2021 Senate COVID-19 Legislative Information page, or view all laws passed during this period.

Significant Books and Reports

Bonelli, Anna. The Minnesota Emergency Health Powers Act. Minnesota House of Representatives Research Department, July 2004. (RA645.6.M6 B66 2004)

Burress, Matt. Transportation-Related COVID-19 Response. Minnesota House of Representatives Research Department, January 2021. (HE213.M6 B87 2021)

Chun, Randall, et al. Health and Human Services COVID-19 Response. Minnesota House of Representatives Research Department, May 2020. (RA644.C67 H43 2020)

Cole, Jared. Federal and State Quarantine and Isolation Authority. Congressional Research Service, October 9, 2014.

COVID-19 Minnesota Fund Expenditure Report. Minnesota Management and Budget, 2020. (RA643.6.M6 C68 2020) [Monthly report]

COVID-19 Minnesota Fund Expenditure Report. Minnesota Management and Budget, 2021. (RA643.6.M6 C69 2021)  [Final, annual report.]

Disaster Assistance Contingency Account Report. Minnesota Management and Budget, 2020. (HV555.U62 M67)

Haigler, Alexandra, Christopher Kleman and Jared Swanson. Taxes and Local Government Payments: COVID-19 Response. Minnesota House of Representatives Research Department, August 2020.

Hauer, Jody and Kirchner, David, et al. Helping Communities Recover from Natural Disasters: Evaluation Report. Program Evaluation Division, Office of the Legislative Auditor, 2012. (HV555.U62 M63 2012)

Health and Human Services -- Temporary Changes Related to Telemedicine. Minnesota House of Representatives Research Department, November 10, 2020. 

Kerpen, Phil, et. al. A Final Report Card on the States' Response to COVID-19. National Bureau of Economic Research. April 2022. (RA644.C67 K47 2022)

Minnesota State Hazard Mitigation Plan Including Recommended Actions for Climate Change AdaptationMinnesota Dept. of Public Safety, Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, 2019. (HV551.4.M6 M56 2019)

Public Health Response Account: Update and Expenditures. Minnesota Department of Health, January 2019. (RA643.6.M6 P83 2018)

Punelli, Danyell. Basics of Emergency General Assistance. Minnesota House of Representatives Research Department, December 2019. (HN79.M6 S56 2019)

Report on the Powers Exercised by the Commissioner of Public Safety during the Peacetime Public Health Emergency. Minn. Dept. of Public Safety. August 2021. (RA644.C67 R47 2021)

Schill, Katherine. Fiscal Implications for Reauthorizing the Emergency Health Powers Act (HF 2436). Minnesota House of Representatives Fiscal Analysis Department, 2004. (RA645.6.M6 S35 2004)

SCRFA Review of Executive Orders Related to the COVID-19 Peacetime Emergency. Minnesota Senate Counsel, Research, and Fiscal Analysis, 2021. (Updated January 19, 2021: Orders 20-01 through 21-04 relating to COVID-19)

State of Minnesota Continuity of Operations Plans. Office of the Legislative Auditor, State of Minnesota, May 7, 2008. (HJ9865.A27 no. 08-07)

Walz, Tim. State of the State Address. St. Paul, April 5, 2020. (J87 .M62 2020 Apr. 5)

Significant Articles

(articles in reverse chronological order)

Bakst, Brian. "Governor’s Emergency Powers Could Change After COVID-19 Crisis." MPR News, February 18, 2022. 

Richert, Catherine and Brian Bakst. "Despite Plans, Precautions, COVID-19 Nearly Broke Minnesota Hospitals. Why?" MPR News, February 16, 2022.

Walker, Tim. "State Judiciary has Taken ‘Unprecedented Steps’ to Operate Safely in Pandemic." Session Daily, January 12, 2021. 

Cook, Mike. "Plenty for MN Lawmakers to do in 2021, With Pandemic Response Still a Top Priority." Session Daily, January 4, 2021.

Bierschbach, Briana. "Minnesota Lawmakers Pass COVID-19 Relief Package for Businesses, Workers." Star Tribune, December 15, 2020. 

Featherly, Kevin. "Walz Pitches COVID Relief Special Session." Minnesota Lawyer, November 23, 2020.

Featherly, Kevin. "Courts Revert to Remote Criminal Trials as COVID Surges." Minnesota Lawyer, November 19, 2020.

Mohr, Jonathan. "Governor’s Emergency Powers Unchanged After Sixth Special Session." Session Daily, November 12, 2020.

Van Oot, Torey. "Minnesota Senate Approves Record $1.9 Billion Infrastructure Package." Star Tribune, October 16, 2020.

Mohr, Jonathan. "House Passes Bonding, Tax, Spending Bill With Bipartisan Support." Session Daily, October 14, 2020.

Orenstein, Walker. "What We Learned From the Minnesota Legislature’s Latest Special Session." MinnPost, September 14, 2020. 

Van Berkel, Jessie. "Minnesota Judge Dismisses Challenge to Gov. Tim Walz's Pandemic Orders. Star Tribune, September 2, 2020. 

HPIS Staff. "Summer’s Third Special Session a Quick One — but Leaders Say ‘Unfinished Business’ Remains." Session Daily, August 12, 2020. 

Featherly, Kevin. "Courts Finding Ways to Adapt to COVID-19 Pandemic." Minnesota Lawyer, July 23, 2020. 

Melo, Frederick. "A COVID-19 Timeline for Minnesota." Pioneer Press, July 11, 2020 (Updated July 13, 2020). 

Birdson, Nicholas. "Balancing Legislative and Executive Powers in Emergencies,." NCSL LegisBrief, Vol. 28, No. 25, July 2020. 

HPIS Staff. "Special Session Ends Without Agreement on Policing Overhaul, Other Key Issues." Session Daily, June 29, 2020. 

Cooney, Victoria. "COVID-19 Debates, Small Business Aid Launch Special Session in the House." Session Daily, June 12, 2020. 

Olson, Jeremy and Glenn Howatt. "Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz Loosening Restrictions on Restaurants, Salons, Gyms, Pools June 10." Star Tribune, June 5, 2020. 

Cook, Mike. "As Session Ends, Legislature Leaves Much Unresolved — But Leaders Say That Could Yet Change." Session Daily, May 18, 2020.

Callaghan, Peter. "The Minnesota Legislature Really Wants a Say in How the State Distributes Federal COVID-19 Money — Even if Walz Doesn’t Have to Listen." MinnPost, May 14, 2020.

Bakst, Brian. "May 13 Update on COVID-19 in MN: Walz Ending Stay-Home Order, Keeping Dine-Out Ban." MPR News, May 13, 2020.

Callaghan, Peter. "What to Expect from the Last Two Weeks of Minnesota’s 2020 Legislature." MinnPost, May 5, 2020.

Olson, Jeremy. "Minnesotans to Get Two More Weeks of Stay-at-Home, but With New Flexibility." Star Tribune, May 1, 2020.

Brooks, Jennifer. "In a Minnesota Legislature on Lockdown, State Capitol Gets Used to a New Normal." Star Tribune, May 1, 2020.

Callaghan, Peter. "COVID-19 Has Even Changed the Way the Minnesota Legislature Appropriates Money." MinnPost, April 21, 2020.

Orenstein, Walker and Peter Callaghan. "How the Walz Administration is Developing its Plans for Restarting Minnesota’s Economy." MinnPost, April 17, 2020.

Bakst, Brian. "Where Does Walz Get that Executive Power for COVID-19 Actions?" MPR News, April 16, 2020.

Bakst, Brian. "As Unity Wanes, Minnesota Lawmakers Advance New COVID-19 Bill." MPR News, April 14, 2020. 

Olson, Jeremy and Glenn Howatt. "Gov. Tim Walz Extends Minnesota's Stay-at-Home Order to May 4." Star Tribune, April 9, 2020.

Callaghan, Peter. "Legislature Passes Law Expanding Workers Comp for First Responders Contracting COVID-19." MinnPost, April 8, 2020.

Smith, Mary Lynn. "Minnesotans Adjust to a New Way of Life: Wearing Masks in Public." Star Tribune, April 4, 2020.

Olson, Jeremy. "Disease Data Modeling, in Minnesota and Elsewhere, Varies Greatly." Star Tribune, April 2, 2020.

"Gildea Issues Stay-at-Home Order." Minnesota Lawyer, March 27, 2020. 

Victoria, Cooney, "House Lawmakers OK $330 Million in Measures Taking Aim at Pandemic's Impact." Session Daily, March 26, 2020.

Callaghan, Peter. "Minnesota Lawmakers to Convene Thursday to Pass COVID-19 Response Bill — After Working for a Week Outside the Public Eye. MinnPost, March 24, 2020. 

Callaghan, Peter. "How Well is Minnesota State Government Prepared to Weather a COVID-19 Recession?" MinnPost, March 20, 2020. 

Xiong, Chao. "Minnesota Courts Chief Asks State Lawmakers to Intervene to Help Postpone Functions." Star Tribune, March 20, 2020. 

Kats, Rachel. "COVID-19: What's Been Done, is Being Done and Could be Done by House." Session Daily, March 18, 2020.

Cooney, Victoria. "House, Senate Pass $200 Million for Health Care Providers in Fight Against COVID-19." Session Daily, March 17, 2020.

DeLong, Matt and C.J. Sinner. "Tracking Coronavirus in Minnesota." Star Tribune, March 16, 2020. [Updated daily]

Cook, Mike. "Precaution: Legislature to be ‘On-call’ for Four Weeks." Session Daily, March 15, 2020. 

Orrick, David. "MN Gov. Walz Declares State of Emergency." Pioneer Press, March 13, 2020.

Bakst, Brian. "Minnesota Leaders Dust Off State Quarantine Law as Covid-19 Spreads." MPR News, March 12, 2020.

Coolican, J. Patrick. "What are the Governor’s Emergency Powers? Can He Really Tell Us Not to Gather?." Minnesota Reformer, March 12, 2020.

Significant Internet Resources


Coronavirus Disease in Minnesota -- The State of Minnesota's website; it provides the latest information on the state's response to COVID-19. The interactive COVID-19 testing site gives advice on what to do if you're sick and where you can go to get tested.

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Guidance for All Minnesotans -- Minnesota Department of Health

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) -- Recommendations and resources from the Minnesota Management and Budget Office for state agency employees. MMB also provides information on the COVID-19 Minnesota Fund created in the state treasury to pay expenditures related to the peacetime emergency declared by Governor Walz in Executive Order 20-01.

COVID-19 and Cities: News and Resources -- League of Minnesota Cities

COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and Unemployment Benefits -- Minnesota Unemployment Insurance Office, Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

COVID-19 Legislative Activity -- Minnesota House Research Department

COVID-19 Response and Preparation -- Office of the Minnesota Governor. View COVID-19 announcements and press conferences on the governor's YouTube page.

COVID-19 Updates -- Minnesota Department of Education

COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation Advisory Group -- Experts from across the state who review guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) about who should get the vaccine first, and make detailed recommendations for how to apply the guidelines in Minnesota.

Legal Impacts of COVID-19 -- A Minnesota State Law Library research guide.

Legislative COVID-19 Response Commission (LCRC) -- Established to review expenditures from the COVID-19 Minnesota fund.

Minnesota Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division -- A division of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.

Minnesota Executive Council -- The Executive Council is made up of the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, state auditor, and attorney general. 

Minnesota Executive Orders -- The Minnesota Legislative Reference Library's database of Executive Orders from 1967 to the present.

Minnesota's COVID-19 Response and Preparation Capacity -- An overview of the data tracked by the Governor’s COVID response team.

Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Center -- Center for Infectious Disease Research (CIDRAP), University of Minnesota.

Updates Related to COVID-19 -- Resources and an FAQ related to COVID-19 for employers and employees from the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry.


Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) -- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Coronavirus Resources -- The National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO) compiles information from the National Governor's Association (NGA), NCSL, federal agencies, as well as state emergency declarations and news articles highlighting state responses.

State Action on Coronavirus (COVID-19)  --  Information from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL); see also COVID-19 Daily Announcements From Federal Agencies.

U.S. Government Response to Coronavirus, COVID-19

World Health Organization (WHO): Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Pandemic -- Advice, technical guidance and research from a global team of the world’s leading public health experts.

Additional Library Resources

For historical information, check the following codes in the Newspaper Clipping File and the Vertical File:
H 8.4 (Health Care - Diseases and Sicknesses); L60.96A (Legislature - Security); M68 (Minnesota Departments & Agencies - Health Department)

For additional reports at the Legislative Reference Library, use these Library catalog searches:

Emergency Management -- Minnesota -- Planning

Issue Guides

Agriculture and Natural Resources

Children, Youth, and Families










State Government Budget and Programs