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Early voting in Minnesota continues to surge following court ruling on late-arriving ballots

Plus: altered video makes Biden look like he says “Hello Minnesota” in Florida: inmate at Stillwater prison dies from COVID-19; goldfish become big problem for Chaska lake; and more.

The Minneapolis Early Vote Center on Hennepin Avenue opened Friday morning.
MinnPost photo by Peter Callaghan
The Minneapolis Early Vote Center on Hennepin Avenue
For MPR, Brian Bakst says, “Almost 1.7 million votes have been cast already in Minnesota, the state’s top election official said Sunday.  Secretary of State Steve Simon told MPR News that 1.68 million votes — about 57 percent of  total votes in the last presidential race — had been received and marked accepted by city and county election offices. Simon said there are just shy of 300,000 absentee ballots, and ballots from mail-only precincts, that haven’t yet been submitted. But he said some of the voters holding those ballots were likely to vote in person and others could see their ballots arrive to be counted before Tuesday.… The fate of in-transit ballots was thrown into doubt by a recent federal court ruling that said tardy ballots — ones postmarked by Election Day but arriving after Tuesday — could eventually be removed from vote totals.”

An AP story says, “It’s an awkward moment when a presidential candidate greets the audience at a rally and names the wrong state. Fortunately for Democratic nominee Joe Biden, that DIDN’T happen to him this week, despite a widely shared video that appears to show him saying ‘Hello, Minnesota’ to a crowd in Florida. It turns out he was, indeed, in Minnesota, at a Friday campaign stop at the state fairgrounds. The video that was shared had been altered to change the text on a sign and the podium to refer to Tampa, Florida, instead of Minnesota. The manipulated video was shared by some prominent Minnesota Republicans, including party chair Jennifer Carnahan and state House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt.”

In the Star Tribune, Patrick Condon, Briana Bierschbach and Torey Van Oot write: “With time running out, the campaigns for President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden scrambled over the weekend to scrounge up the last remaining votes in a 2020 battleground state that belies its modern history of favoring Democrats in presidential elections. In an election year overshadowed by a global pandemic, prompting record numbers to vote early, the candidates made final pitches Friday that showed off starkly opposing views toward the virus. Biden held a drive-in style rally at the State Fairgrounds in Falcon Heights. At the Rochester International Airport, Trump assailed the state’s top Democratic leaders for making him comply with a 250-person limit on public gatherings. …Not in years has Minnesota received this much attention in presidential politics.”

For the Pioneer Press, Kristi Belcamino writes: “Officials at the state prison in Stillwater said a 61-year-old inmate who had tested positive for COVID-19 died at the facility on Sunday morning. The man, who had an extensive medical history, had tested positive for the coronavirus on Oct. 20, authorities said in a news release. He was taken to a local hospital Saturday, evaluated and released. He died shortly after 11 a.m. Sunday at the prison. The Ramsey County medical examiner’s office will perform an autopsy to determine the manner and cause of death.”

This also from the AP: “Wisconsin health officials on Sunday reported nearly 3,500 new cases of the coronavirus and 16 additional deaths in the last day. The have been 2,047 fatalities due to complications from COVID-19. The death count is the 27th highest in the country overall and the 39th highest per capita at 35 deaths per 100,000 people, according to The COVID Tracking Project. The Johns Hopkins University report shows there were 1,018 new cases per 100,000 people in Wisconsin over the past two weeks, which ranks third in the country behind North Dakota and South Dakota for new cases per capita.”

Kristi Marohn writes for MPR: “A small fish that was once someone’s pet has turned into a big problem in a Twin Cities lake. Staff with the Carver County Water Management Organization removed tens of thousands of goldfish last week from an inlet connected to Big Woods Lake, part of the Grace Chain of Lakes in Chaska. The brightly colored species commonly found in pet stores and aquariums was first discovered in Big Woods Lake in April 2019. It’s believed that a few of the non-native fish were intentionally dumped into the lake, where they have quickly reproduced.”

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At The Daily Beast Tori B. Powell reports, “A staggering 46 percent of coronavirus tests are coming back positive in South Dakota at the moment—but Gov. Kristi Noem has ‘no opinion’ on masks and her team thinks everything is going just fine … . The positivity rate is eight times more than the World Health Organization’s recommended 5 percent threshold at which businesses can safely reopen. But Noem’s senior advisor Maggie Seidel said, ‘We feel pretty good about where we’re at. The governor is not going to change any of her approach—why should she?’”

For the Duluth News Tribune John Paul Scott writes, “Though it’s an official order of state government, three months into the statewide mask order, a broad variance in ground-level observance has turned routine runs for staples into a gauntlet of anxiety and resentment. …Though it is a problem of health within public places of business, the state addresses lax mask enforcement as a worker safety issue. Between March and September, MNOSHA has conducted 135 onsite COVID-19 related workplace safety inspections, leading to 71 citations.”

Another AP story says, “More U.S. patients will soon have free, electronic access to the notes their doctors write about them under a new federal requirement for transparency. Many health systems are opening up records Monday, the original deadline. At the last minute, federal health officials week gave an extension until April because of the coronavirus pandemic.  … Patients have long had a right to their medical records, including doctor notes, but obtaining them could mean filling out requests, waiting for a response and paying fees. A 2016 law said delays and barriers must be removed.”