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Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Gazelka tests positive for COVID-19

Plus: GOP election-night dinner likely source of COVID outbreak; post office opens on Minneapolis’ Lake Street; twelve-year-old credited with discovering invasive species not previously found in Minnesota lakes; and more.

Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka
MinnPost photo by Peter Callaghan
Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka
At MPR, David Montgomery and Brian Bakst write, “The Republican majority leader of the Minnesota Senate has tested positive for COVID-19, and is facing calls from the DFL minority to resign his leadership post over his handling of a COVID outbreak affecting the GOP caucus. Sen. Paul Gazelka, R-East Gull Lake, announced the positive test on Sunday morning. He is at least the third Senate Republican to test positive for the disease in the past week, and it comes as more than 7,500 Minnesotans had COVID-19 diagnoses revealed Sunday. That’s more than three times higher than the rate just two weeks ago. Gazelka, 61, is currently traveling in Florida, where he flew last Monday.”

For KMSP-TV Theo Keith says, “Days before a coronavirus outbreak in the Minnesota Senate Republican caucus, the GOP held a large, in-person dinner party to celebrate their election results.  A GOP spokeswoman confirmed the Nov. 5 victory dinner party this weekend in response to FOX 9’s questions about it. Republicans had not previously disclosed it, even as controversy erupted over the outbreak. The spokeswoman, Rachel Aplikowski, did not say why she had not disclosed the party in earlier public statements about the situation. At least three senators, including Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, have now tested positive.”

In the Star Tribune, Neal St. Anthony and Dee DePass write, “JXTA and the Capri are the veritable bookends that border an unprecedented $125 million worth of commercial-residential projects underway or planned for 2021 between Bryant and Penn on W. Broadway, said Erik Hansen, the city’s director of economic development. ‘We are about to experience a building boom on W. Broadway,’ said Hansen, 46, a Minneapolis native who remembers far-leaner times when he was trying to drum up business amid vacant store fronts. The W. Broadway corridor experienced modest progress in redevelopment and business expansion after the 2008-2009 recession. Now, that has given way to a redevelopment wave that portends to be the biggest building surge ever on the near North Side.”

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Says Kirsti Marohn for MPR, “A budding young scientist made an unusual discovery in a Sherburne County lake last summer. Twelve-year-old William Guthrie of Big Lake, Minn., was volunteering with his family to comb lakes for aquatic invaders when he discovered a golden clam — an invasive species not previously found in Minnesota lakes — in Briggs Lake, southeast of St. Cloud. Experts with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources confirmed the discovery, said Megan Weber, an educator with the University of Minnesota Extension and Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center.”

In the Grand Forks Herald, Carolyn Lange reports, “John Dahl knows what humble pie tastes like, and it isn’t good. The 49-year-old New London man spent nearly a week in the hospital in May after being diagnosed with COVID-19. After he left Carris Health Rice Memorial Hospital in Willmar, the nurses told him he wouldn’t be back to his regular routine for a couple months. Dahl pooh-poohed it and told them he’d be back to normal in a couple weeks. That didn’t happen. ‘I’ve eaten my words, and then some’, he said. ‘Humble pie is very bitter’. It’s been about six months since Dahl left the hospital and his energy level still has not fully rebounded. It’s difficult for him to do any extra tasks at home after putting in a full day at work and — most concerning — his lung capacity is functioning at about 80% of normal and that may be as good as it gets.”

Says Paul Walsh in the Star Tribune, “A post office opens Monday in a portion of the vacant Kmart building on Lake Street as a temporary replacement for the two U.S. Postal Service stations that were lost in the riots that followed George Floyd’s death in late May. The Postal Service has said the new full-service post office will fill in for up to two years for the two stations just off Lake Street, 110 E. 31st St. and 3033 S. 27th Av. The city owns the Kmart tract and is receiving about $30,000 in rent from the Postal Service.”

Says Bob King for the Duluth News Tribune, “While modest, the Leonid shower is ever-reliable, producing 10-20 meteors per hour most years. This year’s peak occurs on Tuesday morning, Nov. 17. Every 33 years, around the time the comet cycles back toward the sun, we get much more spectacular shows with meteor counts in excess of 1,000 a minute. Only then does the Leonid meteor shower truly live up to its name. Meteor-watchers call them Leonid storms, and the last one occurred in 2001. After a couple of off-peak years, the next big storm is expected in 2099. Whoa, that’s a long time! To tide us over, we should see meteor counts in excess of 100 per hour when the comet returns again in 2031 and 2064.”

KSTP-TV’s Ben Henry reports: “Minnesota is home to the reigning U.S. chess champion once again. Despite preferring to play “over the board” — chess speak for in-person — Wesley So recently became a US champion for the second time while playing virtually. … So, who now lives in Shoreview, grew up in the Philippines and became a chess grandmaster at the age of 14. He’s the seventh-youngest person ever to hold the title. He moved to the United States at 18 and quickly became one of the world’s top players.”

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