ST. PAUL — Minnesota's 10 Congressional delegates on Thursday, March 19, called on the federal Small Business Administration to free up Economic Injury Disaster Loans for businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith and Reps. Jim Hagedorn Angie Craig, Dean Phillips, Betty McCollum, Ilhan Omar, Tom Emmer, Collin Peterson and Pete Stauber in a letter to SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza asked that the administration provide the loans to Minnesota business owners who've been significantly affected by the pandemic.

Restaurants, bars, gyms, salons and various other businesses have closed their doors in the last several days following executive actions from the state aimed at limiting the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. And as of Thursday, state economic development officials said unemployment insurance claims had surged above 72,000 as workers faced layoffs and limited hours.

Minnesota health officials on Thursday announced that they'd recorded 89 positive cases of COVID-19 in the state, but said testing was limited and there were likely more cases around the state.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has already had a significant impact on small businesses throughout Minnesota — including those in and associated with the hospitality, educational support, retail, and restaurant industries,” the lawmakers wrote. “We have heard directly from Minnesota small business owners about the substantial losses that they are now facing due to the COVID-19 disaster, which is causing extensive economic damage in our state and which necessitates financial assistance from the federal government.”

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