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‘Pandemic fatigue’ factor in driving surge of COVID cases

Plus: Trump holds rally in Wisconsin day after state reports highest number of new coronavirus cases; high school student-athletes deliver letter to Gov. Tim Walz asking to let them play their sports; ESPN’s ‘College GameDay’ coming to U of M; and more.

In the Star Tribune, Jeremy Olson writes: “State health officials hope a sobering week of COVID-19 growth in Minnesota will shake people out of the ‘mitigation fatigue’ that has some people ditching masks, gathering close for happy hour, and increasing their risk of viral transmission. In the seven-day period ending Friday, the state Department of Health reported more than 8,500 new lab-confirmed infections and a tally of 91 COVID-19 deaths — a mortality figure the state hasn’t seen since the end of the pandemic’s first surge in June. … ‘People are getting together for parties and happy hours and kids are hanging out,’ [Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm] said Saturday. ‘It’s not the business part of life. It’s the social part of life.’”

In the New York Times, Julie Bosman, Sarah Mervosh and Marc Santora write: “When the coronavirus began sweeping around the globe this spring, people from Seattle to Rome to London canceled weddings and vacations, cut off visits with grandparents and hunkered down in their homes for what they thought would be a brief but essential period of isolation. But summer did not extinguish the virus. And with fall has come another dangerous, uncontrolled surge of infections that in parts of the world is the worst of the pandemic so far. … With no end in sight, many people are flocking to bars, family parties, bowling alleys and sporting events much as they did before the virus hit, and others must return to school or work as communities seek to resuscitate economies. … The issue is particularly stark in the United States …. But a similar phenomenon is sending off alarms across Europe, where researchers from the World Health Organization estimate that about half of the population is experiencing ‘pandemic fatigue.’

CBS News’ Grace Segers reports: “President Trump held rallies in Michigan and Wisconsin on Saturday, a day after Wisconsin reported its highest number of new coronavirus cases. Mr. Trump made few mentions of the pandemic at the rallies, except for his own battle against it and efforts to reopen the state. ‘I wish you had a republican governor because frankly you’ve got to open your state up,’ Mr. Trump said in Janesville. ‘You’ve got to open it up. You’ve got to open your state up, get everyone back to school.’”

Randy Johnson writes in the Star Tribune: “For the second consecutive Gophers home game, the eyes of the college football world will be on TCF Bank Stadium. ESPN announced Saturday night that its ‘College GameDay’ preview show will visit the University of Minnesota on Saturday for the season opener between the No. 24 Gophers and No. 19 Michigan, which will be a national broadcast on ABC (KSTP-Ch. 5) at 6:30 p.m. At stake for the Gophers and Wolverines will be the Little Brown Jug, a trophy that dates to 1903. … There will be a much different feel for the visit this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.”

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WCCO-TV reports: “Student-athletes in Minnesota want the governor to take them off the bench. High school athletes delivered a letter to Gov. Tim Walz on Saturday morning asking him to let them play their sports. They say the Minnesota State High School League restrictions due to COVID-19 are being unfairly applied, saying they’re more restrictive than Department of Health guidelines. Restrictions have eliminated state tournaments for fall sports. Athletes say those are critical events for securing spots on college teams.”

KSTP’s Kyle Brown reports: “Organizers say they canceled a feminist rally that was scheduled for Saturday afternoon at the Minnesota State Capitol after state officials threatened to fine them over violating COVID-19 restrictions. The Minnesota Women’s March said Attorney General Keith Ellison’s office told them they could be fined $25,000 if organizers didn’t limit the event to 250 people and get contact tracing information for all attendees, among other restrictions. Saturday’s Women’s March was meant to be a reprise of the nationwide movement in which millions of people turned out in cities across the U.S. in 2017 to protest the inauguration of President Donald Trump. There were 12 other events scheduled across Minnesota, but organizers said the rally in St. Paul was ‘singled out.’”

In the Washington Post, Brittany Shammas and Lena H. Sun write of South Dakota’s Sturgis motorcycle rally: “The Aug. 7-16 gathering has drawn intense interest from scientists and health officials, and will likely be studied for years to come because of its singularity. It’s not just that Sturgis went on after the pandemic sidelined most everything else. It also drew people from across the country, all of them converging on one region, packing the small city’s Main Street and the bars and restaurants along it. … Attendees came from every state, with just under half hailing from the Great Plains and substantial numbers journeying from as far as California, Illinois and Arizona, according to an analysis by the Center for New Data, a nonprofit group that uses cellphone location data to tackle public issues. The analysis, shared with the Washington Post, shows just how intertwined the South Dakota rally was with the rest of the country — and how far the decisions of individual attendees could have ricocheted.”