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‘Unprecedented’ conditions prompt extension of air quality alert for much of Minnesota

Plus: Sunisa Lee wins Olympic bronze in uneven bars; turnover at St. Paul’s Department of Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity; Lloyd’s Pharmacy reopens; and more.

WCCO-TV reports: “The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has extended and upgraded the air quality alert in much of the state due to ‘unprecedented’ conditions caused by wildfire smoke. The air quality alert is extended until at least 3 p.m. Tuesday. The affected area is all of Minnesota, including the tribal nations of Grand Portage, Fond du Lac, Upper Sioux, Leech Lake, Red Lake, Mille Lacs, and Prairie Island. In a large area stretching from northern Minnesota to the Twin Cities, fine particles are expected to reach the ‘Purple AQI category,’ which is a level considered very unhealthy for everyone.”

The AP reports: “​​Nina Derwael of Belgium won the gold medal in the uneven bars and Olympic all-around gymnastics champion Sunisa Lee added a bronze medal to her haul at the Tokyo Games. The 18-year-old Lee’s total of 14.500 points was good enough for third behind Derwael and Russian athlete Anastasiia Iliankova. Lee’s bronze gives her three medals so far at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre. She earned a silver in the team competition last week before becoming the fifth straight American woman to win the all-around. Lee has one more final remaining in the balance beam on Tuesday.”

Christopher Snowbeck writes in the Star Tribune: “The majority of those employed by Mayo already have been immunized, but the clinic announced last week that workers throughout the Rochester-based health system must either get vaccinated or go through an hourlong education session by next month. … Mayo’s push falls short of a vaccine mandate, but it’s a variation on a quickly emerging trend among employers …. Some workplace policies are making it more of a hassle for workers to resist the vaccine. Others culminate in unvaccinated employees losing their jobs.”

In the Pioneer Press, Frederick Melo writes: “Jessica Kingston. Jeffry Martin. Toni Newborn. Val Jensen. Kristien Butler. St. Paul’s Department of Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity, or HREEO, has been led by five directors or interim directors in three years, injecting uncertainty into day-to-day operations at a time when labor rights, tenants’ rights, police-community relations and other human rights concerns are increasingly taking priority in the city. Kingston stepped down as director in 2018. Turnover since then has continued at many levels. Complaints filed by staff members are not uncommon.”

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The Star Tribune’s Jeremy Olson writes: “The University of Minnesota is recruiting 150 young adults to study how effectively COVID-19 vaccine limits spread of the corona­virus — a key question when health officials fear that a delta variant of the virus is spreading more rapidly. While clinical trials last year established that three COVID-19 vaccines reduced the likelihood of severe illness and death, they didn’t establish whether vaccinated people were less likely to carry and transmit the coronavirus to others, said Dr. Susan Kline, an infectious disease specialist leading the U arm of the national trial.”

FOX 9 reports: “Police say two pedestrians are expected to survive their injuries after being hit by a driver in Minneapolis on Saturday. Officers responded around 7:45 p.m. for the crash on Grant Street East and Nicollet Avenue South. According to police, it appears a dispute led to the driver targeting the pedestrians. Both pedestrians are expected to survive their injuries.”

Ava Kian writes in the Pioneer Press: “Lloyd’s Pharmacy — which started on Snelling Avenue in St. Paul’s Midway neighborhood in 1918 — reopened last week more than a year after looting and arson destroyed its building during the unrest in the days after the murder of George Floyd.”