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Minnesota State Fair canceled

Plus: why Minnesota’s COVID-19 blood testing program hasn’t taken off; Essentia Health lays off 900; asymptomatic coronavirus carriers found at major senior home in Twin Cities; and more.

Minnesota State Fair
Minnesota State Fair
Minnesota State Fair

No fair. The Star Tribune’s Rochelle Olson reportsa: “The Minnesota State Fair is off for only the sixth time in a history that predates the U.S. Civil War. … The fair was last canceled in 1946 because of the polio epidemic. Board members met privately via an internet call, then voted unanimously in public to cancel the fair. … State Fair general manager Jerry Hammer said it wasn’t a difficult decision. … ‘It’s the only decision. It’s the right thing to do,’ Hammer said.”

Serology imbroglio. MPR’s Catharine Richert reports: “A month ago, Gov. Tim Walz announced a $36 million strategy for coronavirus testing in Minnesota. … The plan called for the state to ramp up its testing capacity to 20,000 coronavirus diagnostic tests daily. But it also called for 15,000 serology tests daily — blood tests meant to detect if someone has already been exposed to the virus. … Those tests have been hailed as a key component to understanding how widely the virus has spread in the community, and therefore offer a key set of data that leaders can use as they consider paths to reopening. But while Minnesota appears to be steadily increasing its capacity for testing that diagnoses COVID-19, antibody testing hasn’t gotten off the ground.

Another big health care layoff. KSTP’s Kyle Brown reports: “A Duluth-based health care system is laying off roughly 900 workers, citing a decline in patient volume since the beginning of March. … Essentia Health, which employs about 14,500 people, said the permanent layoffs would reduce its staff by 6%. Another 850 employees are on administrative leave with benefits through the end of July. The company said those employees could be called back as needed.”

Hidden infection. WCCO’s Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield reports: “One of the scariest aspects of COVID-19 is showing up in the worst of possible places. Mass testing revealed employees at a long-term care facility had the disease, but showed no symptoms. … Johanna Shores is one of the largest multi-teared senior homes in the Twin Cities. It’s where Annie Glenn, wife of astronaut John Glenn, spent her final days. Lyn Glenn, who lives in St. Paul, is Annie’s daughter. … Last Friday, National Guard medics tested 545 residents and staff members. None had any symptoms, but five residents and 23 workers all tested positive.

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In other news…

Going up to 30:Minneapolis parks ready to raise number of outdoor wedding attendees” [Star Tribune]

Uh, oh:Parishioners, priest at Annandale church test positive for COVID-19” [KMSP]

The pandemic we’re not talking about:Rabbit owners petition state animal health board to import vaccine against contagion sweeping U.S.” [Pioneer Press]

At least someone’s getting mortgage relief:The Mall of America hasn’t paid its mortgage in two months” [CNBC]