Updated: March 30, 2020 07:29 PM
Created: March 30, 2020 07:13 PM
(ABC 6 News) - Monday, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar held a community conference call with Rochester Mayor Kim Norton, Mayo Clinic Community, and Government Division Chair Piper Su and Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce President Kathleen Harrington to talk about COVID-19 and the resources available for people and businesses.
Senator Klobuchar said what we are seeing right now is “unprecedented” and that it calls for us to work together.
Klobuchar addressed the federal stimulus bill saying there is $50 billion in the bill for medical providers nationwide.
She said the government has been working hard to draw attention to this, that we're going to have incredible demand on our staff and hospitals.
Klobuchar also said faster COVID-19 tests are being created and work is being done on a test to not just see if a patient has COVID-19 but to see if a patient has had the virus, is immune and is carrying virus antibodies.
Rochester Mayor Kim Norton said the city has opened an emergency operations center in response to COVID-19 and three teams have been created, one to aid the homeless, one to help those with food insecurities and one to address economic instability.
Norton said those teams meet every day. They're also working on setting up a grant for people that don't typically qualify for unemployment benefits, like those who are self-employed.
As far as personal protective equipment Norton said, “We are thinking we have a two month supply of PPE right now [that is] if things don’t explode... We are being told it won’t peak in July. We are worried about running out and about orders. Obviously, we have other bigger needs across the country.”
Kathleen Harrington, Chamber President of the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce also spoke, saying that 1 in 3 jobs in the area qualify for unemployment insurance and that they have been trying to collect and then share information in webinars.
Harrington told Klobuchar they want to get our small businesses individual help and really need people to understand the resources that are available.
Halena M. Gazelka, M.D. Mayo Clinic Medical Director of Public Affairs told Klobuchar that they want to reassure the community that Mayo Clinic is prepared.
Dr. Gazelka said they can currently test more than 5,000 patients and that they are adjusting to the needs of the community as the situation evolves.
She also said they're expanding their research data test capability for a vaccine.
Dr. Gazelka said, “Our biggest asset is our employees, we have an incredible tens of thousands of employees based here in Rochester. We have been impressed with their adaptability to adjust to move around to tasks they normally don’t do and for us to be prepared.”
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