Minnesota’s top coronavirus official met for the first time Friday afternoon in a Zoom call with the state’s top Republicans to discuss the implications that could have for the state’s COVID response.
The final impact of the private meeting between Health Commissioner John Malcolm and Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller, R-Winona, remained unclear. Miller took the leadership position in September and could have a huge influence in determining whether the Republican-controlled Senate will allow Malcolm to keep his job.
Miller described the meeting as “productive” and Malcolm’s spokesman said the pair discussed a range of COVID-related matters.
Malcolm was appointed three years earlier by Tim Walz of Democrat Gov. As the response to the pandemic has become politically polarised, Malcolm’s tenure – or its possible end at the hands of Republicans – has become a central obstacle to progress in a series of changes to state laws and regulations, which generally agreed to by the members of both the parties.
Those changes include a suite of exemptions that would allow flexibility for hospitals, long-term care centers, home health care programs and day care centers to bring in more staff. In addition to the support of Walz, Miller and other elected officials, leaders in those regions have called for change from state officials. Very little has happened, however, ever since Walz proposed to her on October 6.
Miller and several other top Republicans have declined to say whether they are in favor of sacking Malcolm, whose recommendations during the pandemic have generally been in lockstep with public health and infectious disease leaders around the world. Leading up to the meeting, Miller stated that one of his goals with Malcolm was concerned with the concerns of him and other lawmakers, especially constituents of the Republicans, whose residents felt a sense of upside-down over the orders of Walz, Malcolm and other leaders. sharply opposed. ,
Miller issued the following statement on Friday:
“I appreciated the opportunity to meet with Commissioner Malcolm this afternoon. The conversation was fruitful, and I hope it will be a starting point for better cooperation with the Governor and his administration.”
A spokesperson for the Minnesota Department of Health issued the following statement:
“Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm shared an update with Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller today in MN on the pandemic situation and the extraordinary work the Department of Health is taking to slow the spread of COVID-19, which Our critically strained hospital supports and long-term care system make it easier for Minnesotans to vaccinate as often as possible or to get their booster shots as soon as possible. The two also discussed their extensive public health experience and expertise, and the commissioner spoke with the majority leader about the importance of working together on a number of legislative items that would help address hospital and long-term care capacity concerns. will do.
“Commissioner Malcolm provides regular briefings on the COVID pandemic and response to all 201 legislators and looks forward to continuing to work with the Majority Leader and the Legislature to address the current state of the pandemic.”