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North Dakota governor imposes statewide mask mandate

Plus: MSP airport evacuated after reports of security threat; St. Paul council wants commission to explore whether some 911 calls could be handled without police; legislative Republicans didn’t inform DFL colleagues about colleague’s positive COVID-19 test; and more.

For the Associated Press, James MacPherson writes: “North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum ordered a statewide mask mandate and imposed several business restrictions late Friday in an effort to contain the spread of the coronavirus that has stressed the state’s hospital capacity. The Republican governor’s executive order comes after increased pressure from doctors, nurses and other health care professionals to require face coverings. The directive goes into effect Saturday and will last until Dec. 13. Burgum said in a statement that doctors and nurses ‘need our help, and they need it now.’”

WCCO-TV reports: “A portion of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport was evacuated Friday evening after reports of a security threat. MnDOT cameras showed a large police presence on the roadways around the airport. Inbound access to Terminal 1 has been closed off. A spokesperson for the airport said that after they received word of the potential threat, airport police evacuated a portion of Terminal 1 in and around the north end of the airport mall.”

The Pioneer Press’ Mara H. Gottfried writes: “St. Paul City Council members and the mayor plan to form a community-first public safety commission that will explore whether some 911 calls could be handled without a police response, but with people such as social workers instead. The commission will also consider the creation of an Office of Violence Prevention. Four city council members are sponsoring a resolution, which they’ll vote on Wednesday, to form the commission. Mayor Melvin Carter said he plans to announce details next week, including how members would be selected.”

The AP says: “Minnesota voters apparently heeded the warnings and delivered their absentee ballots early or voted in person. New figures from 82 of 87 counties compiled by the Secretary of State’s office show only 2,436 ballots arrived after Election Day and had to be segregated under a federal court order, Minnesota Public Radio reported. Those ballots were counted and there hasn’t been a direct challenge to their validity so far.”

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Also in the Pioneer Press, Frederick Melo reports: “To boost struggling businesses, upgrade air filtration in government buildings and house the homeless into 2021, St. Paul is giving more than $3 million — the majority of what remains from its federal CARES Act funding — to its police, fire and EMS departments for payroll expenses. It’s a budget maneuver to help stretch federal funds. The strategy aims to free up general fund money down the line, allowing St. Paul to back six ongoing initiatives that would not otherwise meet strict state and federal spending deadlines for COVID-related relief dollars.”

The Star Tribune reports: “A day after it was revealed that GOP state Sen. Dave Senjem tested positive for COVID-19 after attending a Nov. 5 party caucus, news broke that Republican senators and staffers were informed in a Tuesday memo that ‘a number of [GOP Senate] members and staff have been diagnosed with COVID-19.’ DFLers were not informed of the rash of cases on the other side of the aisle.”