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Fourteen Minnesota counties subject to new CDC mask recommendations

Plus: violent crime increased nearly 17 percent in Minnesota in 2020; Walz remains optimistic about holding State Fair as planned; National Weather Service issues excessive heat warning for Twin Cities; and more.

Various N95 masks shown at a 3M laboratory in Maplewood.
Various N95 masks shown at a 3M laboratory in Maplewood.
REUTERS/Nicholas Pfosi

In the Star Tribune, Jeremy Olson reports, “State health and education officials are reviewing a new federal mask-wearing recommendation for all people, regardless of vaccination status, in K-12 schools and counties with high or substantial levels of viral transmission. The guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday was in response to a COVID-19 wave fueled by a delta variant of the coronavirus that has caused widespread infections in other states and appears to be emerging in Minnesota. Fourteen Minnesota counties had infection rates Tuesday that were high enough to trigger the federal mask recommendation, including Scott County in the Twin Cities area. The other 13 are smaller counties with rates that can fluctuate widely from week to week.”

An AP story says, “Violent crime surged nearly 17 percent across Minnesota last year, including a record number of murders, according to data released Tuesday by the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. The annual Uniform Crime Report covers a year marked by unrest over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, staffing and morale problems within the police department in Minnesota’s largest city, the COVID-19 pandemic — which caused a surge in unemployment and other stresses on society — and a rise in violent crime in many other American cities. But the report’s purpose is mostly to compile statistics for others to study, and it contains little analysis. Minnesota recorded 185 murders in 2020, up 58 percent from 117 in 2019. That broke the record of 183 set in 1995 when Minneapolis alone had a record 97 homicides.”

Dana Ferguson writes for the Forum News Service: “Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said he remained optimistic that the State Fair would go on as planned next month, despite increasing reports of the COVID-19 delta variant spreading in the state. The Democratic governor at an unrelated news conference on Tuesday said he and health officials were tracking the virus’ spread and weighing whether mitigation measures would have to be taken at the 12-day event or as students return to schools in a little more than a month. … The comments came before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention walked back their guidance on masking in indoor settings, saying vaccinated people (along with those who’ve not been fully vaccinated) should use masks in parts of the country where COVID-19 is prevalent.”

MPR’s Paul Huttner tells us, “Wednesday brings one of the hottest and most humid days of the year to Minnesota. High temperatures will soar into the mid and upper 90s across southern Minnesota Wednesday afternoon. Throw in dew points above 70 degrees and you’ve got heat index values between 105 and 110 degrees across southern Minnesota. That level of heat index meets the criteria for an excessive heat warning from the Twin Cities NWS office Wednesday.”

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Also from the Forum News Service: “A Red Lake Nation police officer was shot and killed Tuesday morning in northwestern Minnesota while responding to a call in Redby. The Red Lake Department of Public Safety later identified the slain officer as Ryan Bialke, 37. He had been with the department for six years and had a wife and four children. … In a statement, the department said that Bialke was responding to a report of a man intending to harm himself, possibly with children in the home, when the suspect opened fire on officers and Bialke was hit. He died at the Red Lake Hospital. The suspected shooter, who police say ran into nearby woods, was arrested and is in custody. He wasn’t immediately identified.”

Also in the Star Tribune, Paul Walsh reports: The labor union representing HCMC’s paramedics and emergency medical technicians alleged that two of its members were barred by management Tuesday from being interviewed by state investigators after the fatal shooting of Winston Smith early last month in Uptown Minneapolis. Management’s actions were condemned Tuesday in a statement by Sam Erickson, vice president of the Hennepin County Association of Paramedics and EMTs (HCAPE). The union said four paramedics responded to the scene in two separate ambulances on June 3, when Smith was shot during an attempt by federal authorities to arrest him in a parking ramp. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA), the state agency tasked with investigating the shooting, requested interviews with all four of them.”

KSTP-TV’s Ryan Raiche says: “State investigators said Tuesday they won’t review the deadly police shooting of Terrance Franklin from 2013, despite the request from Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman. In a letter provided to 5 INVESTIGATES, Drew Evans, the superintendent of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, wrote that ‘there is no role for the BCA in this case.’ Minneapolis police officers shot and killed Franklin, a burglary suspect, after chasing him into a south Minneapolis home. The officers involving in the shooting were not charged and were cleared of any wrongdoing, but the city ended up paying nearly $800,000 to settle the Franklin family’s lawsuit in February 2020.”

The AP reports: “The Minnesota Vikings will start training camp with yet another change in leadership for their offensive line, having reassigned valued assistant coach Rick Dennison to a consulting role so he can remain employed by the club without vaccination for COVID-19. … [Head Coach Mike] Zimmer and [General Manager Rick] Spielman both declined to divulge Dennison’s reason for not getting the COVID-19 vaccine, despite strict league-wide protocols for those without it. Zimmer said it’s possible Dennison would get it later.”