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Minneapolis among U.S. cities with persistent coronavirus infection rates

Plus: state of Minnesota wants 16-year-old who mistakenly received unemployment benefits to return the money; audio service provides COVID-19 information to Somali-Americans in St. Cloud; Trump administration disputes official coronavirus death toll; and more.

In the Star Tribune, Liz Navratil and Kim Hyatt write: “As infection rates fall in other urban areas, the Twin Cities’ rate of coronavirus infections is standing out nationally. In a briefing Friday, White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx identified Minneapolis, along with Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Chicago as the four metro areas in the nation where infection rates are persistent or rising.

The Pioneer Press’ Dave Orrick writes: “President Donald Trump on Friday afternoon threw a wrench into talks between Gov. Tim Walz and some Minnesota church leaders as they were close to an understanding of how churches might safely hold some semblance of services Sunday amid the coronavirus outbreak. …  And that might still happen — in some limited form … But when the forces of religious freedom intersect with church-state separation on a collision course with federal power versus states’ rights amid a polarized political landscape during an election year in the maelstrom of a pandemic … well, it’s complicated.”

KSTP’s Ryan Raiche reports:A 16-year-old student who works part-time after school and on weekends says he was approved for unemployment insurance through the State of Minnesota. But, it turns out, since he’s a student, he’s not eligible. Now, the state wants its money back but Cameron Croes says he already spent most of it.”

Also in the Pioneer Press, Nick Ferraro writes: “State transportation officials have given Stillwater the OK to temporarily block off parking areas on either side of Main Street in downtown for bars and restaurants and businesses to operate outside, Mayor Ted Kozlowski said Friday.”

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For MPR, Kristi Marohn writes: “As the number of COVID-19 cases in the St. Cloud area continues to climb, an effort is underway to reach connect the region’s Somali American community with information and assistance. Much of that effort has focused on community members who don’t read English or Somali … That’s who Abdirahim Osman and Karsten Potts are hoping to reach. They’re Somali language interpreters in St. Cloud, Minn., and started a consulting company that’s now producing public service audio clips about the coronavirus.”

The New York Times writes: “As the number of United States deaths from the pandemic approaches 100,000, President Trump and members of his administration have been questioning the official coronavirus toll. Even as most experts say that the numbers are probably an undercount, White House meetings have turned to questioning whether the toll is inflated by the inclusion of people who died while infected by the coronavirus, but of other conditions.”