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Long-term care facilities in rural Minnesota struggle with staffing amid rise in coronavirus cases

Plus: St. Paul’s busiest bus routes to get major upgrade; Wisconsin health officials report more than 3,600 new cases of COVID-19; more than 100 vehicles pulled over in Twin Cities as part of a crackdown on drag racing; and more.

MPR’s Peter Cox writes: “Facilities caring for older adults are struggling with low staffing levels, as COVID-19 makes an ongoing problem even worse. Nursing home operators say they’re scrambling to make sure they have enough nurses and others to ensure the safety and well-being of residents. In a matter of hours in early October, Paul Gaebe’s Friday went from normal to one of dire emergency. A resident at Mother of Mercy assisted living facility in Albany, Minn., had COVID-19. ‘We had several staff that had contact with that individual,’ Gaebe said. ‘And suddenly we went from normal staffing to short staffing within less than a day.’”

In the Pioneer Press, Frederick Melo writes: “By 2023 or 2024, one of St. Paul’s busiest bus routes will get a major upgrade. The new $1.9 billion state bonding bill completes funding for two new Bus Rapid Transit lines that will be constructed in the metro, including a Lake Street/Marshall/Selby Avenue route from Uptown Minneapolis into downtown St. Paul. The Metro Transit D Line is expected to begin service between the Mall of America in Bloomington to Brooklyn Center in late 2022 and the B Line from West Lake Street to the downtown St. Paul Union Depot will follow about a year later.”

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Says Kim Hyatt for the Star Tribune, “More than 100 vehicles were pulled over this weekend as part of a crackdown on drag racing in downtown Minneapolis and surrounding suburbs. Authorities issued 29 citations and booked 22 people as part of the collective effort with area law enforcement agencies to stop drag racers. A dozen firearms were recovered, and one person was caught driving under the influence and four others were nabbed for fleeing charges.”

For the Green Bay Press-Gazette Benita Mathew reports, “Wisconsin health officials reported more than 3,600 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday. The 3,626 positive cases account for 25.9% of the 14,022 tests reported. Eight more people died from the virus, bringing the state’s death toll to 1,778. As of Saturday afternoon, 1,237 people were hospitalized with COVID-19. Of those, 276 people were in the ICU, the state Department of Health Services reported. An additional 119 people were hospitalized and awaiting test results.”

Marissa Lute at KELO-TV reports, “Nine new COVID-19 deaths were announced along with a new active case count record in the latest update from the South Dakota Department of Health. The death toll increased to 375. There have been 152 deaths in October, the deadliest month of the pandemic in South Dakota. On Sunday, 1,063 new coronavirus cases were reported, bringing the state’s total case count to 39,203 ….”

MPR’s Jon Collins writes: “More than 150 supporters and family members of Myon Burrell gathered in below-freezing temperatures at the site of George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis on Sunday to call for Burrell’s exoneration. Burrell was 17 when he was first convicted in the 2002 shooting death of sixth-grader Tyesha Edwards in Minneapolis, but an Associated Press and APM Reports investigation published earlier this year found significant problems with how Burrell’s case was prosecuted. Burrell’s now 19-year-old son, who is also named Myon Burrell, said he hasn’t seen his father outside of prison since he was a year old. He said he was stunned that so many people would turn out to support his father.”

MPR’s Kirsti Marohn says, “Faith leaders in St. Cloud are making a call for civility leading up to and following the Nov. 3 election. Greater St. Cloud Faith Leaders is an organization that includes members of Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Jewish and other faith communities.…Last week, the group circulated a letter saying members have seen ‘harsh words and actions abounding in these past months.’ ‘Our fear is that these ruthless behaviors will only continue on Election Day and beyond,’ the letter states. It urges members of faith communities to seek peace, respect and civility in the coming weeks.”

The Star Tribune’s Dee DePass writes, “A small army of contractors raced into Thrivent’s new Minneapolis headquarters Tuesday to finish the floating staircase, insulate walls, install a run of whiteboards and hang hundreds of art pieces in time to welcome 900 employees back to the office by January. The company, a nonprofit financial services organization with more than $116 billion in assets under management, said it will keep its financial planners, insurance agents and other workers home until at least January in an abundance of caution as the pandemic rages. Meanwhile, its shiny gem sits largely empty.”

At MPR, Faye Williams writes, “Nothing screams Halloween quite like the faded faces and piercing eyes of antique dolls. That’s the idea behind the ‘Creepy Doll Contest’ at the History Center of Olmsted County in Rochester, now back for its second year after gaining widespread attention in 2019. Curator Dan Nowakowski has picked nine finalists that are up for public voting through Wednesday.”