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Twin Cities suburbs reluctant to impose mask mandates

Plus: Kendall Qualls joins governor’s race; staff shortages affecting hospitals across Minnesota; Minneapolis, St. Paul report first homicides of 2022; and more.

Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

Shannon Prather and Liz Navratil write in the Star Tribune: “While Minneapolis and St. Paul have reinstated mask mandates and are considering requiring proof of vaccine to get into bars and restaurants, Twin Cities suburbs are so far steering clear of these policies. The Edina City Council spent nearly two hours wrestling with whether to pass a mandatory mask mandate at a special meeting on Friday. City leaders heard from local health department officials, examined data and charts, and asked dozens of questions. …  They ultimately passed a resolution that requested and strongly encouraged residents to wear a face covering in public places but stopped short of a mandate.’”

An MPR story says, “There’s a new candidate for Minnesota governor on the Republican side. Kendall Qualls entered the race Sunday, after touring the state for months as head of a nonprofit called TakeCharge Minnesota. Qualls is an Army veteran and business executive who ran unsuccessfully as the Republican candidate for Congress in Minnesota’s 3rd district in 2020. … ‘For over a decade the radical left has morphed the culture of the country where it is not recognizable’, said Qualls in a statement. ‘We are not going to be the generation that lost the America that we have known and loved.’”

A WCCO-TV story says, “Minneapolis Public Schools will move to online learning Monday and close all of its buildings for the day, citing cold weather and COVID-19 as reasons for the shift. In a message to families, the district said the decision was based on ‘the extreme wind chill forecast at 6:30 a.m. and reduced capacity to transport students given the weather conditions and increased COVID-19 cases reported over the weekend’. The district said athletics and activities will also be canceled Monday.”

Also from MPR, Catharine Richert reports, “COVID-19 hospitalizations have dropped slightly since the fall surge, but not enough to ease worsening staffing issues. Around the state, hospitals are reporting hundreds of absent employees due to the virus. … High demand for testing — both over-the-counter tests and PCR tests done by providers and at state testing sites — is making staff shortages worse. Providers are waiting days to find out if they are positive for COVID, says Dr. Andrew Olson, director of Hospital Medicine at M Health Fairview.”

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This from KARE-TV, “In the City of Minneapolis’ first homicide of the new year, a man was killed in a Saturday night shooting that happened on 11th Avenue South. … officers found a young man laying in the street. Officers then performed CPR on the man, police say. Officers found the man had a gunshot wound and he was then taken by ambulance to Hennepin Health, where he later died.”

And KMSP-TV has this: “The St. Paul Police Department said it is investigating the city’s first homicide of the year after a woman died from a stab wound inside an apartment Sunday afternoon. Police say they received the 911 call of a stabbing around 2:30 p.m. Sunday in the North End neighborhood. When officers arrived to the apartment building on the 100 block of Larpenteur Avenue West, they found a ‘disturbing scene’ of an unresponsive woman who had been stabbed in the chest.”

Another KMSP-TV story, this by Babs Santos, says, “At the Saint Paul RiverCentre, this year’s Land O’Lakes Kennel Club Dog Show ended on Sunday. But one dog handler who drove six hours for the event is now unable to go back home, after having her prized dog stolen on Saturday. ‘We do have a $5,000 cash reward for the dog’s safe return,’ Michelle Baker said. The dog is a two-and-a-half year old Boxer named Jasper.”

In the Washington Post, Amy B Wang writes: “Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) has announced he will seek reelection for a third term this year, despite a previous pledge to retire, saying he believes ‘the country is in too much peril’ for him to leave after his second term. In an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal on Sunday, Johnson, a staunch ally of former president Donald Trump, explained that he had not anticipated that Democrats would take over the government in 2020. ‘As I have told crowds since my first Tea Party speeches in 2010: This is a fight for freedom. This is not someone else’s fight, this is our fight, and it’s a fight we absolutely must win,’ Johnson wrote. … He added that ‘countless people’ have encouraged him to run.”

The AP says: “Authorities rescued 27 people from a floating chunk of ice that broke away from shore in the bay of Green Bay in eastern Wisconsin, the sheriff’s office said Sunday. No injuries were reported in the incident that happened Saturday morning north of Green Bay, in the arm that’s part of Lake Michigan, the Brown County Sheriff’s Office reported. Many of the 27 people rescued were ice fishing at the time of the incident. The chunk of ice floated about three-quarters of a mile during the rescue and was about a mile from the shoreline by the time everyone was brought to solid ground.”