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Walz’s decision on reopening Minnesota schools gets mixed reaction

Plus: Wisconsin governor issues statewide mask mandate; Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot pulls out of event to avoid appearing alongside Jacob Frey; eastbound lanes of Interstate 94 between Minneapolis and St. Paul to be closed this weekend; and more.

Gov. Tim Walz speaking during Thursday's press conference.
Gov. Tim Walz speaking during Thursday's press conference.
Screen shot

In the Star Tribune, Briana Bierschbach writes: “Reactions to the decision from parents, lawmakers and educators were mixed immediately following the announcement Thursday, in part because much is still unknown about what will happen in each school district. The order applies to public school districts and charter schools, but not private schools. Supporters praised the move as a science-driven approach to reopening schools that keeps students, teachers and staff safe. … But critics said the plan is too little, too late. … Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, said Walz’s announcement ‘didn’t provide much clarity’ to parents and schools.”

For the AP Scott Bauer reports, “Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers on Thursday issued a statewide mask mandate amid a spike in coronavirus cases, setting up a conflict with Republican legislative leaders and some conservatives who oppose such a requirement and successfully sued to kill the governor’s ‘safer at home’ order. Evers, a Democrat, declared a new public health emergency and ordered the wearing of masks for anyone age 5 and up starting on Saturday for all enclosed spaces except a person’s home. The new order also applies to outdoor bars and restaurants, except when people are eating or drinking.”

In the Pioneer Press, Nick Woltman writes: “Minnesota officials are working to give away 4.3 million masks to help residents comply with Gov. Tim Walz’s executive order mandating face coverings in indoor public spaces. The masks, which will be distributed via local businesses and community organizations across Minnesota, are coming from state stockpiles for addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a news release issued Wednesday by Walz’s office.”

In the Chicago Tribune, Gregory Pratt writes: “Mayor Lori Lightfoot pulled out of a virtual roundtable hosted by Crain’s Chicago Business to avoid appearing on the same digital stage as Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, who has been a lightning rod for criticism after the police killing of George Floyd, sources told the Tribune. Lightfoot had been scheduled to join political consultant David Axelrod “and the mayors of two Midwest cities on Wednesday to discuss how COVID-19 and recent civil unrest will define the future of our nation’s cities,” according to a since-deleted Crain’s Facebook post. But Lightfoot abruptly withdrew from the event earlier this week, and sources with knowledge of the situation said the mayor’s team told Crain’s her cancellation was to avoid being on a virtual stage with Frey.”

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Says Kelly Tyko for USA Today, “Melissa Rein Lively’s spiral in an Arizona Target was caught on video for all to see. She recorded herself destroying a mask display in early July – something she now says she regrets and is in treatment for mental illness. In an exclusive interview with USA TODAY, Rein Lively, the CEO and founder of a public relations firm, said she lost all of her clients and her husband filed for divorce after the videos of her expletive-filled rants went viral.

Says the Star Tribune’s Paul Klauda, “A practice-only fall sports season that defers playing games with hopes that the coronavirus situation will make them possible in the spring. Playing a 20 to 30% shorter season this fall. Or deferring the fall season entirely and somehow wedging it in without going head-to-head with traditional spring sports. Those are three of four scenarios being considered by a Minnesota State High School League task force aimed at fashioning return-to-play recommendations amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The fourth option — holding a traditional season that starts on time — also will be among the recommendations that the Minnesota State High School League will consider when its board meets next Tuesday.”

For MPR, Paul Huttner says, “Widespread rainfall has eased drought areas across central and northern Minnesota. But two primary zones in Minnesota remain in drought. Western Minnesota in a zone around Browns Valley, Ortonville and Morris is still in moderate drought. There is also moderate drought in areas around Duluth, and in Cook County from near Grand Marais into the BWCA. … It’s typical to see local rainfall variations in convective summer storms. But this summer has exhibited some extreme rainfall differences across small areas.

Nina Moini of MPR reports, “The Twin Cities Violent Crime Task Force was supposed to last one month. It’s already halfway done but its leaders are considering extending the effort. The task force made up of federal, state and city law enforcement agencies aims to identify who is behind an extraordinary spike in gun violence — but they have not been able to curb it. In a parking lot on the busy corner of West Broadway Avenue and Bryant Avenue in north Minneapolis, a grassroots effort to bring 30 days of healing is coming to an end.”

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In the Star Tribune, Dee DePass writes,COVID-19 has claimed yet another economic victim, this time the Calhoun Beach Athletic Club in Minneapolis. It will close its doors to the public Sept. 30. … Sections of the 40,000-square-foot facility will remain open as a fitness center, but only for residents of the adjacent apartment building that Denver-based Aimco also owns.”

The Star Tribune’s Tim Harlow writes: “Over the next three weekends, the Minnesota Department of Transportation is going to repave Interstate 94 between downtown Minneapolis and the St. Paul border. This weekend, the eastbound lanes will be closed between Interstate 35W and Hwy. 280 from Friday night to Monday morning. Next weekend, crews will tackle the westbound lanes. Both directions will be closed Aug. 14-17.”

Also in the Pioneer Press, Jace Frederick writes: “The St. Paul Saints are coming home next week, and some of you can join them. After starting the season playing its ‘home’ games in Sioux Falls, S.D., the independent-league baseball team will make its return to CHS Field on Aug. 4 …. The Saints created and pushed a COVID-19 readiness plan in early May. … Details included in that plan are: The Saints will admit a maximum of 1,500 fans per game. … Six distinct areas will be created around the park, with no more than 25 percent capacity and a maximum of 250 people in each area. Seating in those areas will be socially distanced and reserved.”