A message from Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm:
This week’s events have generated great sadness and anger in many Minnesotans, and I share their emotions. Our society’s continued struggle with violence and racism – particularly structural racism is not an isolated problem of a specific place or time. It is a fundamental public health challenge that expresses itself in many ways, from negative impacts on the lives of individuals and families to persistent community-level health disparities. We must continue our work to address this long-standing stain on our communities, our state and our country.
As Minnesota’s health commissioner, I am mindful of my responsibility to help address these societal challenges and also to provide specific health guidance and recommendations for the protection of all Minnesotans. Over the next few days, we know there may be people in our communities coming together to give voice to their concerns and demands. As they do, those of us in public health are reminding everyone involved that they need to take steps to limit the risk of COVID-19 spread. This is essential not only to protect themselves but also to protect their loved ones and the larger community. This includes wearing masks when in public and maintaining social distancing as much as possible.
The Twin Cities remain a hotspot for COVID-19 spread. In fact, nationwide, we are one of the communities most vulnerable to rapid increases in the spread of the virus, given where we are in the course of the epidemic. We are particularly concerned about people coming into the metro area from other parts of the state and from outside Minnesota who may not be aware of this. We are also concerned about the continued disproportionate impacts of COVID-19 on people of color in our state. We need the help of everyone involved to prevent additional suffering and preventable death by following the public health guidelines to limit COVID-19 spread.
These are hard days. In times of pain and grief, we want to come together – both to comfort each other and to demand a better future. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic makes this more difficult. As Minnesotans find peaceful ways to express themselves and speak their truths, please help us protect our most vulnerable neighbors from additional suffering and pain.
This helpline reinforces the state’s efforts to protect the civil rights of Minnesotans. It allows those who experience or witness bias and discrimination to report incidents to the Minnesota Department of Human Rights.
The creation of the Discrimination Helpline comes at a time when there’s continued reports from Asian American community members who are experiencing heightened fear and backlash due to COVID-19. One of the disconcerting aspects of the COVID-19 crisis is the continued rise of xenophobia and racism.
Every Minnesotan can call the Discrimination Helpline at 1-833-454-0148 or complete and submit the Discrimination Reporting online form. The helpline is staffed Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Interpreters are available. Translation services are available and information about the helpline is available in 17 different languages.