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Minnesota to offer $100 incentives for people to get vaccinated

Plus: state experiences worst air quality on record; Walz proclaims Friday as Sunisa Lee Day; most of Twin Cities metro now in severe drought; and more.

COVID-19 vaccine
A woman receiving a coronavirus disease vaccine shot.
REUTERS/Megan Jelinger

The AP and MPR’s Brian Bakst report, “Minnesota will offer $100 incentives to people who get their first vaccination dose between Friday and Aug. 15, as Gov. Tim Walz quickly embraces the effort outlined by President Joe Biden. The state will use a portion of its federal American Rescue Plan funding to pay for the first 25,000 Visa gift cards associated with the program. It’s the latest attempt to push up vaccination rates amid a stubbornly slow phase of immunizations.”

At MPR, Paul Huttner says, “Air quality monitors in Minnesota recorded the highest particulate readings on record Thursday, according to data from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Most MPCA monitors came online in 2000. The air quality monitor at St. Cloud hit an astounding 422 micrograms per cubic meter at 11 a.m. Thursday. The St. Cloud reading breaks the record set a couple of hours earlier at Brainerd of 401 micrograms per cubic meter. Both readings broke the record set in last week’s smoke event at Red Lake of 397 micrograms per cubic meter. … Northerly winds behind last night’s storm-producing cold front blew the smoke straight into Minnesota from Canadian wildfires to the north.”

Dane Mizutani writes in the Pioneer Press: “Gov. Tim Walz has proclaimed Friday, July 30, 2021, as Sunisa Lee Day in Minnesota. This announcement comes roughly 12 hours after Lee earned a gold medal in the women’s gymnastics all-around competition at the Summer Olympics in Tokyo. She is the first Hmong American to represent Team USA at the Olympics. … St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter also declared Friday, as Sunisa Lee Day in the city St. Paul.”

Rachel Minske writes in the Southwest News Media: “Shakopee police have released more details following a Wednesday homicide in which the victim was reportedly decapitated. At 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, police responded to a stabbing at Fourth Avenue and Spencer Street, according to a news release from the department. The intersection is just blocks from the Scott County Government Center. Upon arrival, officers found 55-year-old America Mafalda Thayer, of Shakopee, on the sidewalk with stab wounds. She was pronounced dead at the scene, the release said. Citing a search warrant, other Twin Cities media reported that the victim’s head had been severed and was found at the scene. A knife and a sheath were found nearby.

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The Star Tribune’s Briana Bierschbach writes: “Bloomington has emerged as a global competitor to host the 2027 World Expo, based on a pitch to incorporate Minnesota’s medical innovations into a showcase for the national theme of health and wellness. President Joe Biden on Thursday formally authorized the city as host location in the United States bid, which was delivered to a coordinating agency for world expositions in Paris. It’s the latest development in Minnesota’s yearslong chase to host Expo, also known as the World’s Fair, after being a finalist for hosting rights in 2023.”

This from Nicole Mitchell, at MPR, “A new drought monitor came out Thursday with conditions collected through Tuesday morning. As we have seen through the summer, the below-average rainfall and hotter-than-average temperatures continue to intensify drought conditions. Although there was a slight reduction of extreme drought in central Minnesota versus last week’s data, extreme drought is now affecting portions of southwestern Minnesota. … Drought conditions are also worsening in the Twin Cities metro area. Last week, most of the metro was in moderate drought, with only some of the northern suburbs in severe conditions.  Now, almost all of the metro, including all of Hennepin and Ramsey counties, is in severe drought.”

Says the Star Tribune’s Evan Ramstad, “Sun Country Airlines is almost back to normal. The Twin Cities-based airline will have more passenger flight departures this month than it did in July 2019. And its leaders expect revenue and other key metrics to soon exceed pre-pandemic levels. ‘We’re experiencing a rapid recovery,’ Jude Bricker, the company’s chief executive, told analysts and investors Thursday, a day after Sun Country announced second-quarter results.”

Says Sarah Bauer for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “More than 38,500 homes have been sold in Wisconsin through the first half of the year, according to data from the Wisconsin Realtor’s Association. That’s up 8.4% from 2020 as the hot housing market shows no signs of cooling off.  Inventory is tightening, which pushes up prices. … Rural Pepin County on the western edge of Wisconsin has experienced the largest housing price increase in the state so far this year. The county’s western edge sits along the Mississippi River. Median sale prices for homes in Pepin County are up 57% through the first six months of the year over 2020, according to WRA data. The median sale price is now $196,250. It was $125,000 through the first six months of 2020. So far in 2021, 42 properties have been sold. ”

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