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Judge: Minnesota Department of Corrections must respond to allegations that it failed to protect prisoners from coronavirus

Plus: major airlines to require all passengers to wear masks on flights; high-profile Minneapolis restaurant Bachelor Farmer announces closure; Basilica Block Party canceled; and more.

prison cells
MPR’s Dan Kraker reports, “A judge has ordered the Minnesota Department of Corrections to demonstrate that it has sufficiently protected inmates at the Moose Lake prison from COVID-19. The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota filed a lawsuit in mid-April alleging that the Corrections Department and the Moose Lake prison have failed to implement sufficient measures to slow or stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, arguing the prison is not fulfilling its constitutional duty to keep people in custody safe.”

The Associated Press reports: “American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines said Thursday they will soon require passengers to cover their faces during flights, following the lead of JetBlue Airways. The move comes as airlines big and small contemplate how to comply with social-distancing recommendations in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.”

Also from MPR, Tim Pugmire says, “The Minnesota Senate passed legislation Thursday designed to help struggling businesses by extending tax deadlines. Supporters of the $327 million measure say it will assist business owners as they attempt to recover from COVID-19 closures. The vote was 40-27, with a handful of DFL lawmakers joining Republicans who hold the majority. … Under the bill, the deadline for paying the statewide business property tax would be pushed back 60 days. Estimated tax payment installments and accelerated sales tax payments are delayed, as are payments for S-Corporations, partnerships and C-corporations.”

Emily Cassel writes in City Pages: “In what you could justifiably call the highest-profile closure since COVID-19 shut down Minnesota restaurants and bars, the Dayton-owned Bachelor Farmer and Marvel Bar are gone for good. The news broke Thursday afternoon, in a statement from co-owner Eric Dayton that basically said what we all know to be true and are trying not to think about too hard: This epidemic is making restaurant ownership near-impossible, and will likely lead to the demise of many more.”

Says Hugh Son for CNBC, “Wells Fargo, one of the largest home lenders in the U.S., is stepping away from the market for home equity lines of credit because of uncertainty tied to the coronavirus pandemic. The bank informed its mortgage personnel of the news Thursday in a conference call, according to a source, and the move was confirmed by company spokesman Tom Goyda.”

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This from WCCO-TV, “The 2020 Cities 97.1 Basilica Block Party has been canceled due to the on-going coronavirus pandemic, according to organizers. The two-day event, which was scheduled for July 10-11, will now be postponed until July 9-10 of 2021.”

In the Star Tribune, Jim Buchta and Marrisa Evans report, “At the end of April, Joe Abraham is typically focused on resurfacing parking lots, replacing roofs and undertaking other summertime projects at his Twin Cities apartment buildings. This year, his days are packed with calls and e-mails to tenants who aren’t sure how they’ll pay their May rent. ‘It’s hand-to-hand combat,’ Abraham said. ‘We’re out there managing each situation one by one.’ As unemployment claims soar and rents come due for the second time since a statewide stay-at-home order began, Abraham and other rental property owners in the Twin Cities have taken on a new role: financial coach.”

At KSTP-TV Kailan Grey says, “While the agriculture industry has taken a hit during the COVID-19 crisis, some smaller farms are seeing an increase in demand. ‘It’s just overwhelming’, said Jack McCann, founder of TC Farm. ‘It’s just constant phone calls and emails coming in.’ TC Farm connects a group of farmers with customers who want locally grown food. It operates like a subscription service, where the customer signs up online and McCann helps select items they would be interested in. The customer makes a final decision and receives a monthly delivery of groceries.”

The Forum News Service reports: “Clay County sheriff’s deputies chased a woman driving a stolen tractor for about a half hour before arresting her early Thursday, according to the sheriff’s office in northwestern Minnesota. At 3:38 a.m., deputies responded to a report of a tractor theft that had just occurred in the area of 100th Avenue and 250th Street South in rural Hawley.”