State Health Department officials say that routine inspections of nursing homes, hospices, outpatient surgical centers, dialysis centers and more may have to be curtailed as soon as the third week of October if the federal government shutdown continues. Health Department Spokesperson Mike Schommer says that preventative function would need to be suspended — but emphasizes the state would still be able to conduct investigations in cases where there was a complaint alleging immediate harm or a similar situation. And Schommer says the WIC nutrition assistance and counseling program for pregnant women and young children may have to be suspended by month’s end as well if the shutdown continues past then.
The federal government shutdown could be hazardous to Minnesotans’ health if it continues into the flu season. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is closed and Congressman Keith Ellison says the flu doesn’t care about the shutdown and neither does any other illness, and he is concerned that an outbreak during the shutdown, “Would be catastrophic.” The CDC is keeping some employees on duty to maintain its emergency operations, but it has stopped monitoring influenza. Food safety is also a concern with more than half of the CDC’s foodborne-illness tracking team on furlough.
Several major sportsmen’s groups are warning that the federal government shutdown will hurt hunting because hundreds of wildlife refuges and other federal lands are closed. Pheasants Forever President Howard Vincent says this comes as pheasant population numbers are plunging because farm acres are being taken out of CRP and put into corn production. Vincent calls the shutdown “another hit” because refuge lands are “the last bastion for hunting.” Minnesota’s Pheasant Opener is Saturday, and the DNR estimates that populations are down by 29% from last year. The 2013 Governor’s Pheasant Hunting Opener is taking place in and around Madelia this weekend, but the event will reportedly lose around 13% of its planned hunting areas, or about 1,100 acres, due to the shutdown.