The Minnesota Legislature voted unanimously early Tuesday to approve $200 million to combat the coronavirus pandemic as the number of confirmed cases in the state stood at 54.

The bill allocates $150 million for a newly-created health care response fund. The Minnesota Department of Health will use it to make grants to health care providers to help them deal with COVID-19, including testing services. It also provides $50 million for an existing contingency account for use by providers, ambulance services, health care clinics, hospitals and long-term care facilities.
The House passed the bill shortly after 3 a.m. about an hour after the Senate approved it 55-0. It now goes to Gov. Tim Walz for his signature.
For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
The action on St. Patrick's Day comes after Gov. Tim Walz ordered bars and restaurants across Minnesota to temporarily close to customers who dine in.
“While each of us is working as hard as we can to decrease the risk of transmission, we must ensure our health care providers have the resources they need to take care of Minnesotans who may be afflicted with COVID-19,” House Speaker Melissa Hortman said in a statement.