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Minnesota Legislature plans to limit gatherings, shift to remote working

Plus: St. Paul declares local state of emergency; Wisconsin reports 33 confirmed cases of coronavirus; restaurants offering free lunches to students while schools are closed; and more.

Minnesota House chamber doors
Minnesota House chamber doors
MinnPost photo by Peter Callaghan

The Forum News Service’s Dana Ferguson writes: “The Minnesota Legislature is set to shift its working procedures to allow for more remote working options amid the spread of the coronavirus, legislative leaders announced Sunday, March 15. In a statement, House Speaker Melissa Hortman, D-Brooklyn Park, House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, and Senate Minority Leader Susan Kent, D-Woodbury, said lawmakers would boost telework efforts, increase social distancing and cleaning at the Capitol and attempt to limit large gatherings. And they said they would provide additional details about the new efforts Monday morning at the Capitol.”

WCCO-TV reports: “St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter declared a state of local emergency Sunday amid the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). Starting March 16 through March 27, all St. Paul public libraries, parks, and recreation center facilities, including Como Park Zoo and Conservatory, will be closed to the public. … Mayor Carter has requested Ramsey County Sheriff Bob Fletcher suspend all evictions in St. Paul. These measures follow the March 12 announcement that water shutoffs will be suspended for 30 days.”

From a Q&A with Dr. Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, in the Duluth News Tribune: “I think we’re going to have real challenges in our healthcare system. We are operating on fumes right now, in a regular time period. I think the healthcare systems are doing as well as they possibly can, given the realities of modern day health financing. I wrote in my book back in 2017 that we were ill-prepared in our health system, and that we need to get better prepared. Well, ironically in 2020 we’re in worse shape today than we were in 2017.”

This at BringMeTheNews, “With all K-12 public schools in Minnesota closing by Wednesday through Friday, March 28 because of the coronavirus outbreak, many parents are wondering what will happen to child-care centers they utilize daily.  At this time, there is no recommendation from Minnesota authorities for home-based daycares or any child-care settings to close. ‘The governor is not asking child-care centers to close. He’s asking them to remain open wherever for possible,’ said Steve Grove, commissioner of the employment and economic department.”

In the Pioneer Press, Jace Frederick writes, “No school means no high school sports practices. The Minnesota State High School League clarified as much Sunday, sending out a statement that said there will be no league activities or athletics from March 18-27, consistent with the Emergency Executive Order Governor Tim Walz issued Sunday that closed all schools during that span.”

Says a KMSP-TV story: “The Seward Community Co-op is closing its location on Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis after an employee has tested positive for COVID-19. In a message to customers, the store says they learned of the positive test on Sunday and immediately closed the store. They are bringing in a company to clean the store over the next 24 hours. They say they will only re-open when it is deemed safe. It will not open before Tuesday, March 17 and, when it does re-open, officials say it will be staffed by employees who weren’t in close contact with the sick worker.”

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Says Emerson Lehman for Wisconsin’s WSAW-TV, “The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has reported 6 new cases of COVID-19 in the state.The total number of cases is now 33. 313 tests have come back negative for COVID-19. 32 cases are confirmed. 1 confirmed case has officially recovered from the illness.”

Says Tim Harlow in the Star Tribune, “Officials at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport have long advised travelers to arrive at least two hours before departures …. Now there is a reason to consider allowing even more time: a major road construction project. Weather permitting, the Minnesota Department of Transportation in a couple weeks will begin overhauling Hwy. 5, the road that passes in front of the main entrance to Terminal 1, the Lindbergh Terminal. Construction will last for six months and includes rebuilding the highway between 34th Avenue in Bloomington and Hwys. 55 and 62 near Fort Snelling and the Mendota Bridge.”

KSTP-TV has a list of restaurants offering free lunches to students while K-12 schools are closed.