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Minnesota unemployment rate dropped to 4.3% in February

Plus: St. Paul sees 5 overdose deaths in 48 hours; marijuana legalization bill advances in Minnesota House; VA’s vaccination drive for veterans; and more.

Food and sales job losses aren’t necessarily surprising given the closure of bars, restaurants and other businesses ordered by the governor.
Photo by Esther Lin on Unsplash
Latest unemployment data. WCCO reports:State officials announced Thursday that Minnesota’s unemployment rate dropped to 4.3% last month, down from 4.5% in [January]. … The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development says the decline was the result of more people finding work, as well as a slight drop in the labor force participation rate, which fell a tenth of a point in February to 67.8%.”

Grim days for St. Paul. KARE’s Charmaine Nero reports: “It was quiet on Carroll Avenue in St. Paul on Wednesday, but on Monday, March 22 the St. Paul Police Department was busy responding to an overdose — one of three fatal incidents in a little more than three hours. … “When the pandemic started, we saw a significant increase in overdoses,” says Officer Justin Tiffany. “Over the last 48 hours we’ve actually had 5 overdose deaths.” … Tiffany works with the Community Outreach and Stabilization Unit and spearheads the department’s Recovery Access Program. The unit recently refurbished a bus to provide chemical dependency, mental health and housing support for those in need.”

Does legal pot have a chance? The AP reports (via WCCO):Minnesota lawmakers on Wednesday advanced a proposal that would allow recreational marijuana use for adults and automatically expunge minor convictions related to cannabis, inching the state closer toward legalization. … The legislation, authored by Democratic House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, of Golden Valley, would legalize marijuana use for adults 21 and older and expunge cannabis-related misdemeanor convictions. The proposal would also establish regulations for the production and sale of cannabis and cannabis products, including a nine-member board to oversee the new industry. … The bill passed the House agriculture committee Wednesday on a 8-5 party-line vote and heads to its next stop in the House environment and natural resources committee.”

Vaccinating veterans. The Star Tribune’s Chris Serres reports: “At first, James Allison thought it might be a marketing scam. … Allison, a healthy and athletic 49-year-old Marine Corps veteran, was in the back seat of a pickup truck, on a long drive across the Upper Midwest after visiting his daughter in Virginia, when he suddenly got a text message saying he was eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine through the Veterans Health Administration. … With a couple taps on his phone, Allison secured an appointment, and just days later, was sitting in the waiting area of the Minneapolis VA Medical Center with his wife, Bethany, after getting his first shot of the Pfizer vaccine. … ‘Honestly, I’m still in shock because I never imagined it would be this fast and efficient,’ said Allison, who lives in western Wisconsin. ‘The VA is really looking out for us.’”

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And meatpackers, too. At Sahan Journal, Joey Peters reports: “Jake Velasco wasn’t yet working as a meatpacker last spring when COVID-19 tore through these facilities in Minnesota and across the Midwest. … But over the past year, he saw how the virus infected many people close to him. His friends got infected. So did his in-laws. His brothers and sisters got the virus. His parents got it. Most tragic was his father’s case. … ‘My dad didn’t make it,’ Velasco said. ‘He passed away.’ … So when Velasco’s current employer, JBS Pork, in Worthington, announced a month ago that employees could sign up for COVID-19 vaccines on site, he jumped at the opportunity. Last Friday, the day finally came, as JBS and Sanford Health teamed up to give around 1,800 employees at the plant the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

In other news…

Using their voice:Somali activism on the rise against police violence” [Spokesman-Recorder]

Bike lane just came outta nowhere:Vehicle seen driving across Stone Arch Bridge prompts concern” [KMSP]

Med tech:U of M researcher creates medical innovative heart valve that grows with the body” [KSTP]

And it was fine:Amid Pandemic, Wisconsin’s Prison Population Dropped Dramatically” [WCCO]

Another restaurant down:Grandview Grill in St. Paul will not reopen” [Pioneer Press]

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