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Minnesota set to expand COVID-19 booster eligibility

Plus: GOP candidate for state attorney general faces law license suspension; Minnesota unemployment down to pre-COVID levels; more than $34 million raised for Minnesota nonprofits during Give to the Max Day; and more.

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

The Star Tribune’s Jeremy Olson says, “Minnesota is set to offer COVID-19 vaccine boosters to all adults in response to a worsening pandemic wave and a state infection rate that remains highest in the nation. State health leaders said the expansion will address waning immunity in early vaccine recipients that is increasing viral exposure risks. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will consider the expansion Friday, but Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said the state would act this week regardless of federal guidance.”

Says Brian Bakst of MPR, “A signature law change made after George Floyd’s killing by Minneapolis police remained in legal limbo Wednesday as a judge weighed the new deadly force standards for police. Ramsey County District Court Judge Leonardo Castro, who in September suspended the law, heard arguments over whether to reinstate the law, modify it or throw it out.  The law that narrowed the situations under which deadly force is considered justified went into effect in March. But this summer, a group of police associations sued.”

This, also from MPR’s Bakst, “A Republican candidate for Minnesota attorney general faces a law license suspension of 30 days and additional scrutiny over his dealings with a client.Dennis Smith has agreed to the recommended license suspension, a payment of $900, and probation for two years. The discipline stems from a complaint by a legal client, who says Smith mishandled fees and billing and failed to reasonably communicate about matters connected to a probate case. The disciplinary arrangement was signed by Smith last week. … Smith is a former Republican legislator from Maple Grove and is one of three announced GOP challengers to Democratic Attorney General Keith Ellison.”

Also from the Star Tribune, Kelly Smith writes: “Thousands of Minnesota nonprofits and schools drummed up more than $34 million during Thursday’s Give to the Max Day — topping last year’s $30 million and setting a record in the 13 years of the statewide giving ‘holiday.’ As of early Friday, the total was listed at $34,390,470. … Thursday’s record marks the sixth consecutive year of increased giving during Give to the Max Day and topped last year’s record-breaking $30 million, part of an unprecedented surge in donations in 2020. Both years smashed the pre-pandemic high of $21.6 million in 2019.

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Frederick Melo writes in the Pioneer Press: “John and Stephanie Rupp are closing the St. Paul Athletic Club on Cedar Street, the first step toward repositioning the 13-story hotel, gym and office building as a multi-level wedding and event venue with event hotel rooms. The decision leaves downtown without a traditional member-based gym option, though structured classes and obstacle course-style athletic offerings have opened at Treasure Island Center on Wabasha Street. The Rupps, who have owned the building for roughly 25 years through their property group Commonwealth Companies, posted notice on the ‘SPAC’ website on Thursday that they had exhausted all avenues for keeping the club viable a century after its opulent debut.”

This from the Star Tribune’s Kavita Kumar, “Minnesota’s unemployment rate is back down to where it was in March 2020, just before the coronavirus pandemic fueled a big spike in joblessness. The state’s jobless rate in October declined to 3.5%, down two-tenths a percent as more people were able to find jobs, according to figures released Thursday by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). Minnesota remains lower, as it usually is, than the U.S. jobless rate of 4.6%. But while the unemployment rate may be close to normalizing, the workforce, wages and the number of available jobs have all significantly changed since the start of the pandemic.”

FOX 9 reports: “As school districts in Minnesota see a rise in COVID-19 cases, Shakopee Public Schools announced on Thursday that it is extending its Thanksgiving break. The school is cancelling classes on November 22 and 23, in addition to planned days off from November 24 to 26 for the holiday. The district says it hopes the extra days off will help ‘slow or decrease the rising number of COVID-19 cases in our district.’

A National Geographic story says, “Our global editors picked the planet’s 25 most exciting destinations for 2022. Five categories—Nature, Adventure, Sustainability, Culture and History, and Family—frame unforgettable journeys of discovery. … The Heart of the Continent Dark Sky Initiative is a cross-border effort underway to create one of the largest dark-sky destinations on the planet. Two of its biggest pieces are in Minnesota: Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, the world’s largest International Dark Sky Sanctuary at more than a million acres, and neighboring Voyageurs National Park, the state’s first International Dark Sky Park. Both wild places received dark-sky certification in 2020, and Ontario’s Quetico Provincial Park, which adjoins the wilderness area, earned International Dark Sky Park status in early 2021.”