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Gov. Walz: More than 900,000 applicants for COVID ‘hero pay’

(The Center Square) – Gov. Tim Walz says more than 900,000 Minnesotans have applied for a $500 million pot set aside for COVID “hero pay.”

“This is just one small way we can thank many of the Minnesotans that risked their health and safety to keep us moving throughout the pandemic,” Walz tweeted.

And that’s just the number of applicants so far. Minnesotans can apply through July 2022.

The bigger-than-expected applicant pool might mean each approved check is smaller than expected. State officials originally estimated about 667,000 applicants could receive a check of $750.

The state says the program money “will be split equally among all approved applicants” after the 45-day application period, the 15-day appeals window, and the appeals review window.

Earlier this year, the GOP and Democrats struck a deal on the hero pay, nearly two years after COVID struck.

Eligibility requires the applicant:

  • Must have been employed at least 120 hours in Minnesota in one or more frontline sectors between March 15, 2020, and June 30, 2021.
  • For hours worked during this period, the applicant was not able to telework due to the nature of the individual’s work and worked in close proximity to people outside of the individual’s household.
  • Must meet the income requirements for at least one year between Dec. 31, 2019, and Jan. 1, 2022:

    • Workers with direct COVID-19 patient care responsibilities must have had an adjusted gross income of less than $350,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly or less than $175,000 for other filers.
    • For workers in occupations without direct COVID-19 patient care responsibilities, the adjusted gross income limit is $185,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly, or $85,000 for other filers.
    • Must not have received an unemployment insurance benefit payment for more than 20 weeks on a cumulative basis for weeks between March 15, 2020, and June 26, 2021 (Minnesota Statutes, section 268.085, subdivision 1, clause 6).

The frontline sectors include:

  • Long-term care and home care.
  • Health care.
  • Emergency responders.
  • Public health, social service, and regulatory service.
  • Courts and corrections.
  • Child care.
  • Schools, including charter schools, state schools, and higher education.
  • Food service, including production, processing, preparation, sale, and delivery.
  • Retail, including sales, fulfillment, distribution, and delivery.
  • Temporary shelters and hotels.
  • Building services, including maintenance, janitorial, and security.
  • Public transit.
  • Ground and air transportation services.
  • Manufacturing.
  • Vocational rehabilitation.

The state must first process all applications before it picks the final number of eligible workers and begins distributing funds. 


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