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Minnesota to halt new jury trials, limit public access to courts, case records

Plus: nurses ask Minnesotans to donate masks; some Twin Cities malls are still open; the inexplicable run on bottled water continues; and more.

In the Duluth News Tribune, Tom Olsen writes: “Minnesota courts will not begin any new jury trials in the next month, state Supreme Court Chief Justice Lorie Gildea ordered Friday. … Gildea ordered that courthouses remain open for cases involving ‘an immediate liberty concern, or when public or personal safety concerns are paramount.’ But there will be severe restrictions on public access to hearings and case records.

In the Pioneer Press Deanna Weniger reports: “Nurses are calling on Minnesotans to help with the shortage of personal protective equipment in Twin Cities hospitals. The Minnesota Nurses Association will be accepting donations of unused certified N95 masks from health care or construction uses Saturday, March 21, through Sunday, March 29, from noon until 2 p.m. The masks will be given to the State Emergency Operations Center to distribute to nurses who are running out at their respective hospitals.”

In the Star Tribune, John Ewoldt writes: “A handful of malls were still open in the Twin Cities on Friday, but employees outnumbered shoppers in the two biggest of them — Rosedale and Ridgedale. Throughout the region and country, major retail chains shut down over the last two weeks to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. … But in addition to Rosedale and Ridgedale, Burnsville Center, Maplewood Mall, Northtown and Har Mar were still open Friday for shoppers of the handful of stores that were operating inside each of them.

MPR’s Marianne Combs writes: “In the past week theater companies, museums and performance venues across Minnesota have been forced to shut their doors in order to comply with state and federal directives. For many artists and cultural workers, the shutdowns have meant an immediate end to their income for the foreseeable future. … Laura Zabel is executive director of Springboard for the Arts, a nonprofit that supports artists with education and aid. Zabel says because artists are typically self-employed or contract workers, many don’t qualify for unemployment insurance.”

The Star Tribune’s Jennifer Bjorhus writes: “The run on bottled water in Minnesota continues, despite pleas from governmental officials to exercise moderation in grocery shopping during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some Twin Cities stores are limiting bottled water purchases. … State health officials reiterate that public water supplies are safe. … The virus that causes COVID-19 is not spread through drinking water, and the World Health Organization says it hasn’t been detected in any water supplies.

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