Otter Tail County understands the impact and burden of the COVID-19 pandemic on businesses, non-profits, the public sector, and individuals. The economic impact is widespread and touches every facet of daily life. Rural counties and those with large seasonal populations, where many businesses must earn their annual income in 3-4 months, are suffering from the loss of business. Otter Tail County is working diligently to provide resources and outreach to those in need during these difficult times. County leadership would like to reassure communities and organizations that some support is available now, and more will be coming.
Some of the support available now includes short-term emergency funding grants recently awarded to nearly 350 healthcare provider organizations across the state, including hospitals, clinics, assisted living providers, pharmacies, and medical transportation organizations; seven healthcare providers serving Otter Tail County are among the recipients.
Other assistance programs taking applications include the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs (MDVA) through its Disaster Relief Grants and COVID-19 Special Needs Grants. Support through the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) and the U.S. Small Business Administration has also been available, but access varies based on availability of funding.
Still other disaster aid programs from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are taking shape to help cities, townships, schools, cooperatives, healthcare, emergency services, and nonprofit organizations like childcare, faith communities, libraries, senior citizen centers, and other social services providers.
Individuals, including self-employed and independent contractors, who cannot work, have had their hours reduced, or lose their jobs due to the pandemic should apply online for unemployment insurance. Congress has passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), designed to provide relief to individuals and businesses affected by COVID-19. The law includes several changes that may affect eligibility for unemployment benefits. Minnesotans currently receiving unemployment benefits will qualify for an additional $600 compensation.
Important links to each assistance program’s guidance is available on Otter Tail County’s COVID-19 information page, found on the county website, or by contacting the county’s offices of Community Development, Emergency Management, Public Health, or Veterans Affairs directly.
In addition to its regular Tuesday morning meetings, the Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners continues to hold special meetings on Friday mornings each week in an effort to keep the public up to date on the newest information and resources. Everyone is encouraged to visit the county website and social media to stay informed. Together we can slow the spread of COVID-19 and work to minimize the economic impact.