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Number of COVID-19 cases linked to Minnesota schools surges

Plus: nonfatal overdoses up in Minnesota in 2020; Minneapolis parking enforcement to work overnight to avoid police responding to parking violations; majority of Black Minneapolitans oppose reduction of size of police department; and more.

Elementary School
REUTERS/Amira Karaoud

Not a good trend. The Star Tribune’s Jeremy Olson reports: “Minnesota on Thursday reported 2,071 coronavirus infections linked to pre-K-12 school buildings in the week ending Sept. 18, an increase from 977 the previous week and the first weekly count above 2,000 in the pandemic. … The surge comes as some schools finalize COVID-19 response plans ahead of an Oct. 1 deadline for federal American Rescue Plan funds, while others change their plans in response to coronavirus infections in their buildings and communities. While an increase after the start of classes isn’t surprising, the total more than doubles last fall’s pace — at a time when COVID-19 vaccine wasn’t available for people 12 and older, according to weekly data from the Minnesota Department of Health.”

Related:The number of schools in Minnesota with confirmed COVID-19 cases has tripled twice in the last two weeks. What’s going on?

Sort of a half full/half empty situation. WCCO reports:Minnesota saw an 18% increase in nonfatal drug overdoses in 2020, according to state health officials. … The Minnesota Department of Health says 7,290 nonfatal overdoses were reported in 2020, compared to 6,196 in 2019. Opioids drove a large part of the increase, as well as stimulants, making up for 57% of nonfatal overdose hospital visits. … Health officials said that though COVID-19 has been the most pressing public health issue for nearly two years, other public health issues have not gone away.”

Well, it’s a reform. The Star Tribune’s Christina Saint Louis reports: “Starting Oct. 4, Minneapolis will extend Traffic Control hours so that the Minneapolis Police Department won’t have to respond to parking complaints that are submitted overnight. … The extension is a pilot program the city is launching to test an alternative to police response. … ‘The goals of this pilot are to free up MPD time and resources spent on parking calls, improve service experiences and reduce duplicate services, while responding to urgent parking complaints on time,’ a news release announcing the program said.”

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Another perspective on Minneapolis’ public safety amendment. For The Nation, Ibrahim Hirsi writes: “Recently, at a time when a giant question mark hangs over the future of the current police department, [Don] Samuels has reemerged into the spotlight as a fierce advocate of police presence on the streets of Minneapolis. Many have conflated his support for more boots on the ground with an endorsement of the city’s controversial police department, whose treatment of the city’s Black residents became a national scandal following the murder of George Floyd by Derek Chauvin in May 2020. However, Samuels says he recognizes that the department has historically targeted Black Americans and that police reform is long overdue. But he also thinks that armed police officers do help combat the community violence that has taken hold of some neighborhoods with a large proportion of residents of color. … That sentiment is reflected in a recent survey, which found that the majority of Black voters in Minneapolis oppose reducing the size of the police department. They’re concerned that cutting the size of the police force would further tighten the grip that violent crime and drug problems have on the streets.”

Hirsi’s previous piece:Minneapolis Inches Closer to Disbanding Its Police Department” [The Nation]

In other news…

Yikes:Prosecutors Say Accused Highway 169 Killer Pointed Guns At Other Drivers Before Alleged Shooting” [WCCO]

Time for a mandate?Vaccination rates lag among Minnesota prison workers” [MPR]

Music to our ears:Gaelynn Lea composing original music for new Broadway ‘Macbeth’” [The Current]

Razing the bar:New Mitchell Hamline School of Law dean wants to do away with the bar exam” [KMSP]

Skullfull work:Minneapolis artist’s Día de los Muertos designs break new ground as Postal Service stamps” [MPR]

Lots of good stuff here:Everything Inside Duluth’s Shuttered Electric Fetus is Up for Auction” [Racket]