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Minnesota sees spike in applications for unemployment benefits

KSTP-TV’s Eric Chaloux reports: “The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development is seeing a surge of applications for unemployment benefits due to COVID-19 closings. DEED usually sees 40-50 applications an hour for benefits, but by early afternoon Tuesday, staff reported around 2,000 applications an hour. ‘We’ve never had a situation where overnight you see such a spike and interest in the program,’ DEED Commissioner Steve Grove said. Grove’s office said residents do not have to lose their job to qualify for new COVID-19 unemployment benefits. Workers who have had their hours ‘substantially reduced’ could qualify.”

For USA Today, Kelly Tyko says, “All Target stores will close no later than 9 p.m. local time starting Wednesday, the retailer announced. The Minneapolis-based retailer is one of the last major companies to cut hours in response to the coronavirus or COVID-19 to give staff “additional time for cleaning and restocking each day,” the company said in a news release. Walmart reduced hours of its 24-hour stores on Sunday as have many grocery stores. … Also starting Wednesday, the retailer is dedicating an hour each week for the elderly and those with underlying health concerns – who are the most vulnerable to COVID-19 – to shop.”

Chris Serres of the Star Tribune says, “Minnesota disability service providers across the state have begun shutting down day activity centers in response to the widening coronavirus pandemic, potentially leaving thousands of people with physical and developmental disabilities in the lurch. In response, top officials at the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) and two large organizations that represent hundreds of disability service providers are seeking broad regulatory relief to prevent people from being cut off from vital services.”

For Vox Nicole Norea reports, “Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced Tuesday that if you owe taxes to the federal government this year, you won’t be charged any interest or penalties if you defer your payment for up to 90 days after the April 15 filing deadline. You’re still required to file your taxes by April 15. But if you owe money to the federal government, you’ll have longer to pay it without penalty.”

Also from KSTP-TV, this from Ellen Galles: “For those who work in the medical field, staying home right now is not always an option. That’s why a group of University of Minnesota medical students are banding together to help those on the front lines with childcare and household management. When their medical school classes moved online and their clinics got canceled, they made it their mission to help others who work in the medical profession; from doctors to nurses to cleaning staff. On Tuesday the group’s website went live called, offering everything from free childcare to errand running. ”

Says Jon Bream in the Star Tribune, “Don’t have a 19th nervous breakdown. But the Rolling Stones are postponing their No Filter Tour for the second consecutive year, including a May 16 show at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. …The 2020 North American tour was slated to start May 8 in San Diego. Minneapolis was to be the third stop on a 15-show trek. The coronavirus pandemic has derailed the planned concerts.”

At Reuters, Gene Emery reports, “The highly contagious novel coronavirus that has exploded into a global pandemic can remain viable and infectious in droplets in the air for hours and on surfaces up to days, according to a new study that should offer guidance to help people avoid contracting the respiratory illness called COVID-19. … tests show that when the virus is carried by the droplets released when someone coughs or sneezes, it remains viable, or able to still infect people, in aerosols for at least three hours. On plastic and stainless steel, viable virus could be detected after three days.”

The AP reports: “A federal judge on Tuesday rejected a challenge by environmental groups against the proposed Twin Metals copper-nickel mine in northeastern Minnesota, saying the Interior Department had the authority to reverse itself and renew the project’s federal mineral rights leases. The Obama administration tried to kill Twin Metals by rejecting the company’s application to renew its leases, citing the risk of acid mine drainage to the nearby Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. But the Trump administration gave the project a new lease on life when it reinstated those leases last year.”

In the Star Tribune, Ryan Faircloth writes: “Minneapolis Public Schools Superintendent Ed Graff is still pushing for an April vote on his controversial redistricting proposal, despite objections from some parents who worry the plan will receive little scrutiny amid an unprecedented virus outbreak. The proposal would upend the district’s makeup by cutting and relocating magnet schools and redrawing attendance boundaries, which officials say will address racial disparities and an anticipated budget deficit of nearly $20 million. The district planned to unveil its final proposal to the school board on March 24 to tee up a final vote in early April.”

MPR reports: “Walleye fishing will be catch-and-release only again this year on Mille Lacs Lake, and off-limits altogether during the month of July, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced Tuesday. The restrictions are due in part to a record ice fishing season on the lake this winter. Poor ice conditions on other lakes meant increased traffic on Mille Lacs, resulting in what the DNR called the ‘highest fishing pressure there in 30 years.’ Anglers harvested almost 30,000 pounds, leaving only 57,000 pounds available.”

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