MAPE members on the frontlines battling COVID-19

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MAPE members on the frontlines battling COVID-19

Shoreview, MN – MAPE members are on the frontlines helping Minnesotans battle COVID-19: from the epidemiologists who are tracking the spread of the virus to those helping neighbors and others apply for unemployment insurance to those caring for vulnerable Minnesotans as well as those keeping communities safe through their jobs at state correctional facilities.

We are so proud of the work all of our MAPE members are doing to keep Minnesotans safe from this deadly virus and government running. Businesses across the state depend on us to be on the job so they can be, too,” MAPE President Chet Jorgenson said. Jorgenson is an analyst with the Commerce Dept.

“State workers share the same Minnesota values as our neighbors, and we step up every day to ensure people in our state are well cared for and safe. Minnesotans rely on these state services and now is the time to invest in them,” Jorgenson added.


MAPE Region 9 Director Stephanie Meyer is a senior epidemiologist with the Minn. Dept. of Health and works on the case investigation team. She and her colleagues contact confirmed COVID-19 patients, talk with them about their exposures, find out who’ve they been in close contact with and handle isolation and quarantine.

“We are trying to draw a circle around each case, find the contacts, isolate, quarantine where needed, and move to the next case. If we can contain illness in these spaces it makes a difference to the bigger burden on our healthcare system,” Meyer said.

Meyer, who has four children, said she often wonders “what will happen if I get COVID-19? What if one of my kids get it? It keeps me up at night.” 

Melynda Ankney is an unemployment insurance field auditor with the Minn. Dept. of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). “Just as the COVID-19 pandemic was starting to take over our lives and our state, I told my boss that I wanted to help in any way that I could,” Ankney said.

That is how Ankney soon found herself traveling 43 miles each way to the unemployment call center in St. Paul after being redeployed from her office in Cambridge. DEED has received more than 500,000 unemployment insurance applications since March.

“It is truly rewarding to be able to help people in really tough situations navigate how the program works. It does get very busy and by the end of the day people are exhausted because we’ve been on the phone talking nonstop for eight hours. Overall, spirits are high because we’re doing what we can to help Minnesota,” Ankney said.

At least 40 Minn. Dept. of Corrections (DOC) employees at six different correctional facilities have tested positive for COVID-19, and there are at least 118 positive or presumed COVID-19 cases among offenders at the facilities. Many DOC employees risk infection every day because they do not have the ability to telework or social distance at their facilities due to the nature of their jobs.

“In Minnesota, we take care of each other. State employees step up when others need to step back,” said MAPE Region 13 Director Lois Tucke, DOC Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services. “Now is the time to invest in the people who have been working to keep Minnesota running; like frontline workers, parents keeping their kids’ education going and employees delivering essential services.”