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Announcing new COVID restrictions, Walz says Minnesota is at ‘a breaking point’

Plus: Minneapolis nixes snow days during distance learning; single-engine plane makes emergency landing on Maple Grove road; Timberwolves bring back Ricky Rubio, take Anthony Edwards in draft; and more.

Gov. Tim Walz
Gov. Tim Walz speaking on Wednesday evening about the surge of COVID-19 cases in Minnesota.
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In the Pioneer Press, Dave Orrick writes: “Warning that the state was at ‘a breaking point,’ Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz sought to summon the vigilance and compassion of a COVID-weary public Wednesday evening, as he announced a sweep of restrictions in the face of a pandemic storm pounding the state with stunning speed. … ‘This immense loss strikes at the heart of our state. We are at a breaking point. As hospitals near the crisis of turning away new patients, continuing as things are is simply not sustainable.’ The orders, which were met with a mix of pained reactions, were urged by the state’s top health officials, as the state’s entire medical community, from hospital CEOs to nursing unions, has expressed increasing alarm over the exponential growth of the SARS-CoV-2 virus across the entire state and its strain on the health care system.”

MinnPost’s Walker Orenstein has a breakdown of what the new restrictions will mean for bars and restaurants, gyms, retail business, travel and social gatherings, among other things: “The limits on public life, issued by executive order, amount to the governor’s toughest set of restrictions since March, when Minnesota had a stay-home order that was intended to build hospital capacity and supplies of personal protective equipment.

A WCCO-TV story says, “Due to new COVID restrictions, the Minneapolis Institute of Art will be closing for visitors starting Saturday. ‘The health and well-being of Mia visitors and staff is our utmost priority, and we are committed to doing our part to protect our community,’ said Katie Luber, Nivin and Duncan MacMillan Director and President at Mia.”

Says Mara Klecker of the Star Tribune, “A winter storm in the Twin Cities will no longer deliver the possibility of a carefree day without class for Minneapolis Public School students. In an e-mail to families on Wednesday, the district announced that if severe weather closes the school buildings, teachers will host a day of distance learning. … One school district in New Jersey has taken an opposite stand on snow days during the pandemic. In a statement issued last month, administrators vowed to continue calling off school during bad weather.”

The AP reports: “Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers said Wednesday that he will extend an order requiring masks to be worn inside public places amid a dramatic rise in COVID-19 cases that is putting increasing pressure on the state’s hospitals. Evers said he will extend his statewide mask mandate and reissue an order extending the state’s public health emergency before the end of this week. Both orders would remain in effect into January.”

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For the Star Tribune, Tim Harlow writes:  “The state’s new computer system designed to process vehicle licenses and registrations is up and running, and by all accounts things were off to a good start this week. Agents from across Minnesota handled more than 21,600 transactions on Monday, the first day the MNDrive system went live. No major hiccups were reported as customers conducted business both in person and online, said Megan Leonard, a spokeswoman with the state’s Driver and Vehicle Services (DVS).”

WCCO-TV reports: “Police say a single-engine plane made an emergency landing late Wednesday afternoon on a Maple Grove road. The plane touched down on County Road 81 near Wellington Lane just after 4 p.m. No one was hurt, nor was any property damaged. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating.”

In the Pioneer Press, Jace Frederick writes: “After months of research and deliberation, the Timberwolves selected Georgia guard Anthony Edwards with the first pick of the 2020 NBA draft. He has the talent to be ‘that guy,’ the one who could, one day, potentially usurp Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell as Minnesota’s best player. The Wolves don’t need him to do that right away. Edwards is, after all, only 19 years old.”

Chris Hine writes for the Star Tribune: Ricky Rubio’s career is coming full circle. A source confirmed to the Star Tribune that the Wolves are trading the No. 17 pick in Wednesday’s draft to Oklahoma City for Rubio, the No. 25 pick and No. 28 pick. … Rubio, a fan favorite during his time with the Wolves, spent the first six seasons of his NBA career in Minnesota before spending two years in Utah and one in Phoenix. He had just been traded earlier this week in the deal that brought Chris Paul to the Suns.”

MPR’s Paul Huttner says, “current forecast trends suggest our milder than average air overall may hang around into December this year. … Recent NOAA CFS2 outlooks for December show a strong mild bias bull’s eye right across Minnesota and the Upper Midwest.”

Says Stephen Groves for the AP, “South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem on Wednesday defended those who choose not to wear masks in public, even as her state deals with one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the nation. Those who don’t wear masks are making a ‘personal decision’ and deserve respect, the Republican governor said during a news conference. She refused to encourage people to wear masks or socially distance, instead saying the best thing people can do to stop the spread of the virus is wash their hands. It was the governor’s first news conference to address the pandemic in over three months.”