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Minnesota pharmacies ask to help administer COVID vaccines

Plus: demand for vaccine continues to overwhelm state website, phone lines; law enforcement review finds no criminal wrongdoing at “Storm the Capitol” event in St. Paul; Minneapolis expects to recoup $100,000 from 2019 Trump rally; and more.

COVID vaccine
Erin Clark/Pool via REUTERS
The Star Tribune’s Glenn Howatt says, “Minnesota pharmacies and health care providers are asking to be tapped to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine as residents clamor for a coveted appointment at one of just nine administration sites scattered across the state. ‘Pharmacies are eager to administer the COVID vaccine,’ said Sarah Derr, executive director of the Minnesota Pharmacists Association, who told a Minnesota Senate health committee Wednesday that nearly 560 pharmacies have registered to be vaccine providers. ‘Pharmacies are currently a little frustrated as they have not heard of any plans … in contrast to pharmacies in other parts of the country,’ she said.”

An MPR story by Peter Cox says, “After weeks of vaccinating health care workers and nursing home residents and staff, the state of Minnesota has opened up vaccinations to anyone 65 and older to get the COVID-19 vaccine. But the rollout, billed as a pilot, was almost too popular. … As of 3:45 p.m., the state fielded 232,000 phone calls seeking appointments and the website for appointments, at its peak, had 10,000 unique hits per second. ‘To be clear, we do not have enough vaccine for everyone who wants one,’ said Kris Ehresmann, director of disease epidemiology at the Minnesota Department of Health.”

The Pioneer Press reports: “A law enforcement review of a Jan. 6 rally at the state Capitol in St. Paul found no criminal wrongdoing in the words or actions of the demonstrators, according to a news release issued Wednesday by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. Investigators with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the State Patrol examined video and other evidence from the ‘Storm the Capitol’ rally and shared their findings with the Ramsey County attorney’s office … Held the same day that a violent mob attacked the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., the rally in St. Paul was peaceful, but some participants cheered at news of the events in Washington, and one speaker warned of a civil war.”

In the Star Tribune, Rochelle Olson writes: “Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey expects to announce a negotiated deal Thursday to recoup $100,000 from Target Center operator ASM Global for the cost of hosting President Donald Trump’s October 2019 rally at the city-owned arena. … The deal is subject to City Council approval and could come up for a vote as soon as Feb. 12. Before Trump touched down in Minneapolis for the rally, there was public sparring among the Republican president’s campaign, the DFL mayor and arena operator ASM over who would pay the security costs for the event. The city contracts with Los Angeles-based ASM to run Target Center.”

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Says an AP story, “President Donald Trump has granted clemency to two Minnesota residents convicted of drug charges. Trump commuted the sentence of 46-year-old Cassandra Ann Kasowski, of Moorhead, who has served more than seven years of a 18-year penalty for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribution of a controlled substance. The case involved the transportation of methamphetamine from Texas to North Dakota. Trump also delivered a full pardon to 63-year-old John Harold Wall, of Prior Lake, who pleaded guilty in 1992 to one federal count of aiding and abetting possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine.”

For the Sahan Journal, Joey Peters writes: “As Biden took office on Wednesday and promised in his inauguration speech to be a president “for all Americans,” many of Minnesota’s immigrants and new Americans soaked in the scene, ruminating on the historic nature of the event as well as urgent tasks the new administration faces. COVID-19, which is still ravaging the country, came to the forefront of many people’s minds. So did the history-making election of Kamala Harris, who was sworn in as the first South Asian, first woman, and first Black vice president in the country’s history.”

Says Tim Harlow for the Star Tribune, “Border patrol agents in International Falls, Minn., seized a shipment of counterfeit heaters that could have commanded more than $260,000 had they made it to market. Agents on Friday found 780 of the fake infrared zone heaters inside a rail car bound for the nearby northern Minnesota town of Ranier, according to a statement from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The heaters, which originated in China, violated intellectual property rights regulations, officials said.”

Says Melissa Turtinen for BringMeTheNews, “A St. Paul home that’s vividly described in one of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s short stories is for sale.  The historic Charles W. and Mary Ames House, which was built in 1886 at 501 Grand Hill in St. Paul, is on the market for $1.55 million, according to the listing. When Fitzgerald was young and living in St. Paul he was friends with the Ames’ children, and the home apparently had such an impact on him that he described it in several short stories, including ‘The Scandal Detectives.’”

For Newsweek, Matthew Impelli writes, “Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson’s recent op-ed includes 19 annotations from editorial board of the state’s largest newspaper. Johnson published his op-ed in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, whose editorial board previously called for his resignation in an op-ed published last week. The calls for his resignation stemmed from his objection to Congress certifying state’s electoral votes. … The op-ed began with an editor’s note that said that Johnson asked for ‘space to respond’ to the editorial board’s op-ed. ‘We are providing him that courtesy today. We also are taking the rare step of footnoting Johnson’s commentary to provide additional context so that readers have a fuller understanding of the senator’s actions,’ the note said. The editorial board went on to include 19 footnotes throughout Johnson’s op-ed, disputing some of his claims and offering further criticism toward the Republican senator.”