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Surge of coronavirus cases keeping assisted-living residents separated from families

Plus: Kenosha lifts emergency curfew; Bert Blyleven works last game as Twins broadcaster; high-speed chase in Red Wing leads to partial collapse of building; and more.

Lori Spencer and her husband Michael Spencer visit her mom, Judie Shape
REUTERS/Jason Redmond
Lori Spencer and her husband Michael Spencer visit her mom, Judie Shape, 81, who tested positive for coronavirus outside her room at Care Center of Kirkland, Washington.
The Star Tribune’s Chris Serres reports: Across Minnesota, a spike in coronavirus cases has dashed hopes among many families that they would be able to see and hug their loved ones after months of separation. Some of the state’s largest nursing homes and assisted-living communities have yet to open their doors to visits by family members and outside caregivers, despite new state guidelines allowing such visits. Other facilities have moved to curb outdoor visits, which began in June, because of a recent surge of coronavirus cases. The visitor restrictions are now entering their sixth month, and many residents and their relatives are reaching the breaking point.”

NPR’s Rachel Treisman reports: “Kenosha County lifted its nightly emergency curfew on Wednesday, more than a week after it was first enacted in response to protests over the Aug. 23 police shooting of Jacob Blake. Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian said in a statement that he had made the decision after consulting with law enforcement and community leaders.… President Donald Trump visited Kenosha on Tuesday, and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has announced plans to visit on Thursday.

Brian Bakst at MPR writes, “Vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris made a virtual foray into Minnesota on Wednesday, appearing briefly with Democratic elected officials via Zoom to promote coronavirus safety measures. Harris spoke for about seven minutes before turning the campaign event over to local leaders. … Harris said a plan from Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden would supply schools with more personal protective equipment and money to hire additional teachers so class sizes can be slimmed.”

In the Pioneer Press, John Shipley writes: “Bert Blyleven has been working in front of major league fans for nearly 50 years, first as a big-league player for 22 years, then as a broadcaster for 25. Most of that time has been in Minnesota…. Blyleven, 69, will transition into being a Twins special assistant next season, keeping his gig as an on-field spring training coach and adding special appearances on behalf of the organization throughout the year. His days working Twins games are at an end, but he insisted ‘it doesn’t mean that it’s the end of my broadcast career. I’m not retiring, or anything. It’s just that my contract expired here.’”

Says Mike Hughlett in the Star Tribune, “Medtronic is undertaking a restructuring that will cut costs by $450 million to $475 million annually and include an unspecified number of job cuts. The medical device giant — based in Ireland but mainly run from Fridley — is adopting a ‘new operating model [that] will simplify Medtronic’s organizational structure and accelerate decision making and execution’, according to a filing Tuesday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The annualized cost savings of up to $475 million will be achieved by Medtronic’s fiscal-year 2023.”

For MPR, Dan Gunderson writes: “The sugarbeet harvest is all about timing. The beets can’t be stockpiled when temperatures are warm, or they spoil. But they have to be harvested before the ground freezes. … Then, in early October, when it’s cold enough to stockpile the beets for processing through the winter, the harvest shifts into high gear. When that happens, workers come from across the country to help to bring in the haul. Weather is typically the biggest harvest concern … But this year, COVID-19 has everyone, from farmers to processors, nervous.”

For WCCO-TV, Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield reports: “Too many Minnesotans have no place to call home. And the COVID crisis is only expected to make the problem worse. With limited shelter space, Minneapolis’ nationally renowned parks have become a refuge for those with nowhere to turn. … ‘One week we had 400 needles, the next week we had 1500 needles so the increase in drug use, violence, there were many instances when people were being shot,’ [Park Superintendent Al] Bangoura explained.… The superintendent says his staff has pivoted, from upkeeping grounds to cleaning up needles and human waste. Park police, he says, have been scrambling to keep up with the violent crime. ‘I would love more help from the state, we need resources, we need help,’ Bangoura said. ‘This is the largest encampment in state history.’”

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Also in the Star Tribune, this from Rohan Preston, “The mainstage and the normally tan façade of the Children’s Theatre were bathed in deep red lights Tuesday night. Red lights also flooded the frontages and innards of Chanhassen Dinner Theatres, the Guthrie, and a host of other playhouses and performing arts venues in Minnesota and across the nation. … It was all part of #RedAlertRestart, an effort to raise awareness about the impact of the pandemic on performing arts institutions and the artists and artisans they employ.

WCCO-TV also reports: “A high-speed chase in Red Wing ended Wednesday night with an SUV slamming into a restaurant, causing part of the building to collapse. The Red Wing Police Department says no one was hurt in the crash, which happened at Liberty’s Restaurant and Lounge, at the intersection of 3rd and Plum streets. The apartments above the restaurant were safely evacuated, and the driver was arrested and booked into the Goodhue County jail.”