Nonprofit, independent journalism. Supported by readers.


Increased demand, surge in COVID cases lead to capacity crunch at Minnesota hospitals

Plus: state sees 74% increase in schools reporting COVID outbreaks; Frey calls MPD body camera footage “galling”; MnDOT puts used snowplows up for sale; and more.

Critical care workers insert an endotracheal tube into a coronavirus disease patient.
Critical care workers insert an endotracheal tube into a coronavirus disease patient.
REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

In the Star Tribune, Glenn Howatt writes: “Minnesota hospitals are finding it increasingly difficult to admit new patients and discharge existing ones amid a record 2021 surge of COVID-19 and other cases. In addition to cases usually seen in the fall, such as asthma, hospitals are grappling with a high number of trauma patients, an unexpected wave of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections typically seen in the winter as well as nearly 900 COVID-19 patients. … The pressure on hospitals that began in the metro area in July has spread to facilities large and small statewide.”

Says Christopher Magan of the Pioneer Press, “The number of Minnesota schools reporting coronavirus outbreaks jumped 74% over last week with more than 400 school buildings reporting outbreaks to the state Department of Health. Schools with COVID-19 cases have steadily grown since the academic year began. A month ago, just six buildings had reported five or more cases in students or staff. Both Dakota and Washington counties have 19 buildings with outbreaks and Ramsey has 14 schools reporting outbreaks. School-age children have the highest rate of new cases with the 10- to 14-year-old age group seeing a 10.7% positivity rate over the last week.”

In the Star Tribune, Liz Navratil says, “Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey used the word ‘galling’ to describe just-released police body camera footage showing officers beating a man who had surrendered and talking about ‘hunting people’ during the unrest following George Floyd’s killing. ‘We need to make sure justice is done,’ the mayor said, though he stopped short of saying how. The body camera footage shows police firing ‘less lethal’ weapons at protesters and bystanders, exchanging fist bumps and saying ‘[expletive] these people’ as they sought to enforce the curfew after days of rioting. … The footage shows police riding down the street in a van firing 40-mm marking rounds, also known as rubber bullets, without warning at people outside buildings.”

Also in the Star Tribune, this from Paul Walsh, “Two western Minnesota men have been ordered by a federal judge to pay more than $1.1 million for damage they inflicted when their gunfire punctured a pipeline and released thousands of gallons of diesel fuel into a creek that feeds a river. Eric J. Weckwerth-Pineda, 25, of Cottonwood, and Tanner J. Sik, 22, of Ivanhoe, were sentenced Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis after having pleaded guilty to misdemeanor negligent discharge of a pollutant in connection with the incident on April 24, 2019, near Cottonwood Lake in Lyon County. The men were each put on a year’s probation, along with jointly being on the hook for a restitution amount that the U.S. Attorney’s Office has acknowledged will not be recouped from the defendants.”

Article continues after advertisement

At MPR, Paul Huttner says, “It’s been a good month for rainfall across much of central and northeast Minnesota. That extra rain has helped ease — but not erase — drought conditions in central and northeast Minnesota for this week’s U.S. Drought Monitor report, shown above. This week’s report shows the moderate or greater drought area in Minnesota decreasing from 76 to 67 percent compared to last week. Extreme drought decreased from 23 to 17 percent. Big patches of southern Minnesota are now drought-free.

KSTP-TV reports: “A federal grand jury returned an 11-count indictment against a Red Lake man in connection with the shooting death of a Red Lake tribal police officer. Court documents show David Brian Donnell, 28, is charged with one count of first-degree murder, four counts of assault with intent to commit murder, four counts of assault with a deadly weapon, one count of discharging, carrying and using a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, and one count of possessing firearms as an unlawful controlled substance user.”

MPR’s Brian Bakst writes: Now for sale: Some sweet, orange rides with big beds. Listen, when you drive by in one of these babies, everyone will move to the right and stay back to stay alive. Snowplows. We’re talking about snowplows. Eight Minnesota Department of Transportation plows are on the auction block this month with dozens more identified by the agency for future sales. Bids on a 2004 Sterling model listed in ‘good’ condition with 237,848 (mostly highway) miles were due to close Friday. As of midday Thursday, the top bid was $10,520. Several others will go in online auctions run by the state between now and the end of October.”

This from WCCO-TV: “Minnesota rock band The Replacements released a new music video Wednesday, an homage to their Minneapolis roots peppered with familiar scenes from around the city. The video for ‘Takin’ a Ride’ follows Hifi Hair and Records owner Jon Clifford and his dog as they make their way around the city in a Pontiac convertible, pointing out the sites from the ‘Mats’ early days. It starts out at Hifi, and together Clifford and his dog Fred drive to Butler Square, where The Replacements’ lead singer Paul Westerberg had his day job as a janitor. Then the duo ride around to Longhorn Bar, 7th Street Entry, and down to Waconia, where the band had their first show together. After that, they go to Blackberry Way, Oar Folkjokeopus, where ‘Paul handed Peter Jesperson a cassette of demo recordings,’ and Modesto, Jespersen’s apartment and ‘unofficial Replacements headquarters.’”