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Minneapolis, St. Paul reinstating indoor mask mandates

Plus: AG Ellison tests positive for COVID-19; MDH offers free at-home test kits; Twin Cities school parents asked to start planning alternative transportation for students; and more.

Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

In the Star Tribune, Katie Galioto and Faiza Mahamud report: “Minneapolis and St. Paul are reinstating indoor mask mandates, with mayors from both cities citing a rise in COVID-19 cases because of the highly contagious omicron variant. Both mandates take effect at 5 p.m. Thursday. Minneapolis’ order requires face coverings in ‘any indoor locations where members of the public may gather, visit or patronize.’ St. Paul’s applies to businesses licensed by the city ‘at all times when social distancing of at least 6 feet is not maintained.’”

In the Pioneer Press, Frederick Melo reports: “Worried you may have caught the virus that causes COVID-19 over the holiday season? The Minnesota Department of Health has partnered with Vault Medical Services to offer free at-home test kits delivered to your door. … A completed test can be dropped in the mail for testing at a lab in Minnesota or New Jersey. Results are usually available within 24-48 hours. … To order a test, visit the Department of Health website at tinyurl.com/AtHomeTest2022 or go directly to learn.vaulthealth.com/state-of-minnesota.”

In the Duluth News Tribune, Alex Derosier says, “Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison has tested positive for COVID-19, his office announced Wednesday night, Jan. 5. In a statement, the state’s top prosecutor said he was visiting family out of the country and learned he was infected Tuesday when he took a test required to fly home.”

KMSP-TV’s Theo Keith says, “Hennepin County Sheriff David Hutchinson tried to put his drunk driving case behind him during a round of media interviews the day after Christmas. But Hutchinson wasn’t telling the complete story that day. … he did not mention that he’d told first-responding deputies that a cab driver — not him — was behind the wheel of his Hennepin County-owned vehicle when it crashed. … A Douglas County deputy told troopers that Hutchinson said ‘on several occasions that he was not driving, and at one point, said that he had called a cab and that the cab driver was driving the vehicle.’ Troopers did not find anyone else near the vehicle.”

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This from MPR, “Facing a dire driver shortage, Minneapolis and St. Paul school districts are asking parents to start planning alternative transportation for students. In an email Wednesday, the St. Paul public school district asked parents to make plans to get their children to and from school in case their bus route is canceled, citing the ongoing bus driver shortage. The district says its schools are expecting shortages and cancellations, made worse by people getting sick, through the remainder of the school year.”

Another Duluth News Tribune story says, “A warmer- and wetter-than-average December across much of the Lake Superior region slowed the big lake’s usual wintertime water level drop some. The International Lake Superior Board of Control reported Wednesday that Lake Superior declined just 0.8 inches in December, less than the usual 3.2 inch drop. Lake Superior sat 2.8 inches below the long-term average for Jan. 1 and 11 inches below the Jan. 1 level in 2021.”

A KARE-TV story by Jack Molmud says, “For months, employees working the Immersive Van Gogh exhibit in Minneapolis were not accruing sick and safe hours, a mandate by Minneapolis city ordinance. This led to an estimated $11,200 in lost accrued sick hours, according to former manager at the exhibit, Quang-Minh Tran. Parent company Lighthouse Immersive, just hours after being contacted for this story on December 21, messaged its Minneapolis employees to say the sick and safe hours will be added in future paychecks and its working to abide by Minneapolis city ordinance.”

Also from the Pioneer Press, Chris Tomasson writes: “The Vikings announced Wednesday that, due to a Minneapolis mandate, all fans will be required to wear masks at Sunday’s season finale against Chicago at U.S. Bank Stadium. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Vikings did not have fans at games last season. This season, in two preseason games and their first seven regular-season games at U.S. Bank Stadium, fans were encouraged but not required to wear masks.”