Hennepin County board chair: ‘I’m excited about the governor’s testing announcement’

The Southwest Journal is documenting the coronavirus pandemic by recording the personal stories of Minneapolis residents and workers whose daily lives are in a state of flux. As the outbreak evolves, we will be checking in with the participants regularly. Read all of the stories here.

All interviews are conducted over the phone, and conversations are edited for length and clarity.

Marion Greene, Hennepin County board chair

Generally, I’m excited about the governor’s testing announcement. One thing that really struck me was the slide he had that showed all the different levers and essentially conveyed there isn’t one thing that will make his team decide to open things up. It’s hard to be patient with that, but I think that nuanced approach is what’s needed. 

On the testing side, I want to say that Hennepin Healthcare system has been very much part of that work. They didn’t get named in the press conference because they’re a smaller organization than the U of M or the Mayo Clinic, but they are hugely important to the region. They are the public safety net hospital in Minnesota, so I just want to make sure they get acknowledged.  As we start to have further discussion on racial disparities in health care delivery and specifically in the context of COVID 19, Hennepin Healthcare plays a major role in addressing racial disparities in health care and I think they need to be right up there. 

What I’m working on is continued conversation on how to best serve people experiencing homelessness. That’s been an ongoing topic and we’re increasingly partnering with the state on that, which has been good. We’re looking for the state to connect with us and realize we have so much experience in delivering those services and working with partners who deliver those services. I think that conversation is advancing in a good way.  

We’re also starting to look ahead at our budget for 2021 and really getting ahead on what we expect and don’t expect that to look like. A clear direction county staff have had from the board is that we do not want to raise the property tax levy at all. So in that context, how do we continue to deliver our crucial safety net services?

Things are good at home so far. My husband is out right now to change the tires on my [adult] stepdaughter’s bike. He assured me as he went out the door that social distancing is observed. We decided early on we’d be two separate households. As he left, I said to him, “Are there any treats we have we could take her?” Our ideas were things like some yeast, because she’s been getting into baking. Normally we’d give her some leftovers or a pint of ice cream. 


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