Norovirus hitting Minnesota especially hard this year

Wikimedia Commons/GrahamColm
Transmission electron micrograph of norovirus particles

The latest on the norovirus. Says Dan Browning for the Strib, “Minnesota health officials said Monday that they’re coping with what’s likely to be the second-worst start ever to the peak season for the stomach bug, also called viral gastroenteritis. The disease, which causes diarrhea and vomiting, is spread through personal contacts and careless food preparation. ‘It’s definitely one of the worst seasons we’ve seen in quite a while,’ said Doug Schultz, a spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Health. ‘One of my staff said, ‘We’re drowning in norovirus.’”

Speaking of disease: Esme Murphy at WCCO-TV says, “A Twin Cities mom says her 6-year-old daughter contracted the mumps despite getting all of her vaccines on time. The little girl, named Aurora, is in quarantine right now through Christmas to prevent others from getting the highly-contagious disease that has no known cure or treatment.”

Since when doesn’t football make money? Alex Friedrich at MPR reports, “Because of the way the Big Ten and other conferences share bowl money, the university [of Minnesota] will get the same amount as every other school in the Big Ten — regardless of whether it plays in a bowl. ‘It’s not a payday for Minnesota — it’s not a payday for anybody,’ said Mike Poorman, a Penn State University senior lecturer who covers the sports industry. ‘It’s a very … socialistic division of revenues.’” Wha!? Wha!? (Sputtering sounds). We might as well be living in some European hellhole, like Denmark, if that’s the case.

Sorry. We’re talking cheaper gas, here. John Michael at KMSP-TV says, “City officials in Coon Rapids, Minn. say increased oil train traffic in their community is a big problem, and it’s only getting worse. They especially worry about fire trucks and ambulances getting stuck waiting for trains at intersections while responding to emergencies. … Big Lake Mayor Raeanne Danielowski said her city’s fire department faces the same problems. Earlier this year, as the department was responding to a house fire, its mutual aid partner, Monticello, arrived to the Big Lake fire first because the local department was delayed 4 minutes by a train.”

Directly related:  Road trip! Candace Renalls of the Forum News Service says, “Minnesotans are likely to enjoy even lower [gas] prices for at least another month before they level off and start climbing, Laskoski said, though he expects those drops to be less dramatic. The price decline could last even longer, possibly to March. With prices dipping to $2.05 and $2.06 a gallon at several stations in southern Minnesota on Sunday, prices of $1.99 or less should not be far behind, Laskoski said. ‘We’ve seen 22 states that have below $2 per gallon,’ he said. ‘Given Minnesota already has some at $2.11 (on Friday), the odds are pretty good that we will see some that get to $1.99 or less.’” How long before GM reboots the Hummer?

A note of sanity from local security expert Bruce Schneier. On his blog he says of the Sony hack attack. “I’ve heard calls for us to strike back, with actual missiles and bombs. We’re collectively pegging the hype meter, and the best thing we can do is calm down and take a deep breath. First, this is not an act of terrorism. There has been no senseless violence. No innocents are coming home in body bags. Yes, a company is seriously embarrassed — and financially hurt — by all of its information leaking to the public. But posting unreleased movies online is not terrorism. It’s not even close. Nor is this an act of war. Stealing and publishing a company’s proprietary information is not an act of war. We wouldn’t be talking about going to war if someone snuck in and photocopied everything, and it makes equally little sense to talk about it when someone does it over the internet. The threshold of war is much, much higher.”

Not anytime soon. In the Strib, Josephine Marcotty reports, “Even though wolves are thriving in Minnesota and around the Great Lakes, the federal government may have to start over in devising a plan to protect them in the Upper Midwest and beyond before the state is allowed to resume its three-year-old hunting season. A federal court ruling handed down Friday put the wolf back on the endangered species list in the Great Lakes region. The sharply worded 111-page decision essentially wipes out a decade of wolf management in Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin.”

They’ll be playing the same familiar tunes at the Capitol next month. Kirsti Marohn of the St. Cloud Times says, “A state law banning off-sale liquor sales on Sundays remains despite numerous attempts to repeal it. The issue is likely to return to the Legislature next year, and could have a better chance of success with Republicans now controlling the House of Representatives. … Rep. Jenifer Loon, R-Eden Prairie, authored a bill last session that would have removed the state ban and allowed local municipalities to decide hours and rules for Sunday sales. Loon said she will be introducing a new bill the first week of the legislative session. Whether its chances of passage are better remains to be seen, she said.”

The end of the year parade of “best,” ”worst” and “top” lists includes MPR’s Top Five political stories. “1. Sen. Al Franken re-elected: … Franken was able to convince Minnesotans that he was serious about his job in the Senate and more interested in serving them than appearing on cable TV talk shows. In fact for at least five years he did few if any interviews with the national media but was almost always available to Minnesota news outlets. By focusing on mundane but serious issues such as workforce development and online privacy he was able to parry attacks by McFadden that he was a rubber-stamp for an increasingly unpopular President Obama, attacks that were more effective for other Republican candidates in other states. … Franken also proved a master of the new political fundraising environment created by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision that allows unlimited money to flow into campaigns. Through a web of complicated fundraising arms, Franken raised more than $24 million for the 2014 campaign. He spent nearly that much to win re-election while McFadden spent about $7 million.”

Some stunning photos from the past year on the Strib site. In particular, Brian Mark Peterson’s outdoors work. Compares well with the master, Jim Brandenburg.

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