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President Trump tests positive for coronavirus day after holding Duluth campaign rally

Plus: U of M to make additional cuts in athletics; Wisconsin reports another one-day high for COVID-19 cases, deaths; courthouse crowd cited by defense attorney in arguing for change-of-venue in Floyd case; and more.

President Donald Trump holding MAGA hats during a campaign rally at Duluth International Airport on Wednesday.
President Donald Trump holding MAGA hats during a campaign rally at Duluth International Airport on Wednesday.
REUTERS/Leah Millis

In the New York Times, Peter Baker and Maggie Haberman write: “President Trump revealed early Friday morning that he and the first lady, Melania Trump, had tested positive for the coronavirus, throwing the nation’s leadership into uncertainty and escalating the crisis posed by a pandemic that has already killed more than 207,000 Americans and devastated the economy. Mr. Trump, who for months has played down the seriousness of the virus and hours earlier on Thursday night told an audience that “the end of the pandemic is in sight,” will quarantine in the White House for an unspecified period of time, forcing him to withdraw at least temporarily from the campaign trail only 32 days before the election on Nov. 3. The dramatic disclosure came in a Twitter message just before 1 a.m. after a suspenseful evening following reports that Mr. Trump’s close adviser Hope Hicks had tested positive.”

For the Forum News Service, Sarah Mearhoff writes: “Three Minnesota congressmen were traveling with [the President] in recent days, as Trump rallied with thousands of supporters in Duluth Wednesday, Sept. 30. … Three Minnesota Congressmen — U.S. Reps. Jim Hagedorn (CD1), Tom Emmer (CD6) and Pete Stauber (CD8) — traveled on Air Force One with the president from Washington, D.C., to Minnesota, as well as by motorcade. They planned to fly back to D.C. with the president, as well. Trump also held a private conversation with Minnesota state Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, and House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, upon landing in Minneapolis Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 30. Former congressman and Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Jason Lewis was also present. The four Republicans were unmasked, but outside and several feet apart. … Prior to Trump’s rally in Duluth, he attended a private, closed-press fundraiser in Shorewood, Minn., according to KTSP. As of early Friday, it remains unclear who and how many people total attended the event, hosted by Cambria CEO Marty Davis, and what health precautions were taken.”

Says Rachel Blount for the Star Tribune, “This week, a Gophers official confirmed to the Star Tribune that the U plans to have 98 fewer athletes on its non-revenue teams next school year. That means 41 previously unreported women’s athlete cuts, in addition to 57 men cut by the elimination of men’s track and field, tennis and gymnastics. … The U is projecting major revenue losses because of the coronavirus pandemic, and it is looking to save money in many ways. The school also needed to bring the gender balance of Gophers athletes into alignment with the student body. The current undergraduate enrollment is 54% women and 46% men.”

In the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Mary Spicuzza and Meg Jones report: “Wisconsin reported a record high 2,887 new COVID-19 cases and 21 more deaths Thursday — troubling numbers that come as many of the state’s hospitals warn their beds are filling up quickly. The latest news came one day after the state set a record with 27 deaths reported. The number of people hospitalized with the coronavirus has been skyrocketing over the last week, increasing by nearly 150 patients. The total number of people hospitalized dipped by 14 overnight, with 669 patients hospitalized as of Thursday. But those in the ICU with the virus hit an all-time high of 208.”

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The Star Tribune’s Torey Van Oot writes, “A top Minnesota Republican Party official has left her role with just over month to go until Election Day. Executive Director Becky Alery is no longer working with the state party, two sources told the Star Tribune. Alery, a political operative who previously worked for U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer and former U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis, did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Calls and texts to MNGOP Chairwoman Jennifer Carnahan and a party spokesman also went unanswered.”

At MPR, Jon Collins says, “A defense attorney for one of the former officers charged in George Floyd’s killing is arguing that a volatile scene outside the court building at a previous hearing — in which members of an unruly crowd allegedly assaulted another former officer and his attorney — is one more reason the trial should be moved outside Hennepin County. … [Attorney Thomas] Plunkett argues that the jury may be influenced by chanting and yelling of demonstrators outside the court building, and that defense witnesses may be hesitant to testify knowing that they might be subject  to ‘rioting, assaults and dox attacks.’”

WCCO-TV reports: “Health officials call Minnesota’s largest COVID-19 social spreader the perfect storm. Members of a wedding party in southwestern Minnesota turned up to the ceremony sick. Five weeks later, at least 77 attendees have tested positive in nine different counties across the state. In a town of just a few hundred people near the South Dakota border, a spacious ballroom serves as one of just a few wedding venues in the area. Mark Staufaker is co-owner of KB’s Bar and Grill in Ghent. ‘Ever since the mask mandate our employees we always wear a mask,’ Staufaker pointed out. … They implemented all required COVID-19 mandates to be able to open and host smaller gatherings again. ‘We do have signs up that it is a mandate to wear a mask, we have hand sanitizer up as well in the ballroom,’ he said. But on Aug. 22, it wasn’t enough to ward off the state’s largest social spreader to date. … Of the 275 people there on the night of the reception and dance, 77 of them tested positive.  It’s more than a quarter of the guest list and they range from the ages of 10 to 84.”

Also in the Star Tribune, this from Jeremy Olson, “A University of Minnesota computer algorithm is so accurate at identifying COVID-19 infections, just by examining chest X-rays, that it is being made available to 450 health systems worldwide. U researchers aren’t sure what the algorithm detects in X-rays that distinguishes patients with COVID-19, but after testing it on thousands of images, they know it works.”

Also in the Post, Alexander Kafka reviews a new biography of John Steinbeck, “Mad at the World,”  by Minnesota writer William Souder. “There’s an old saying that great writing is simple but not easy, and so it is. The search for that one plain but inobvious word that will do the work of five, the agony of untangling a complex idea that has become a mass of phrases in the writer’s mind, the willingness to keep doing it over and over and over again until it is right — all of that plus some luck yields prose so clear that it seems a child could have written it.’ That’s William Souder writing about the author and conservationist Rachel Carson in his 2012 biography ‘On a Farther Shore.’ It also nicely describes the work of biographer Souder himself: painstakingly researched, psychologically nuanced, unshowy, lucid. He is drawn in subject to American originals whose lives are marked by great success, self-doubt, and an eerie capacity and need for solitude.”

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