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Some Minnesotans head to Sturgis motorcyle rally, despite COVID warnings

By |2020-08-06T06:24:26-05:00August 6th, 2020|

A number of Minnesotans are headed to the huge motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota that begins tomorrow (Fri), despite COVID warnings from state health officials. Commissioner Jan Malcolm says: "There are people coming in to the event from high-incidence states and... it's just a pretty ripe environment for further spread and folks bringing the virus back to their home communities." Malcolm urges Minnesotans who attend the Sturgis rally to quarantine for 14 days when they get back, watch for symptoms, and be tested for COVID five to seven days after returning, even if no symptoms appear.

No health insurance? Check out MNsure exchange

By |2020-08-06T05:53:51-05:00August 6th, 2020|

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 100,000 Minnesotans have come through MNsure to find health insurance coverage. The head of the state's health care exchange encourages any Minnesotan who does not currently have health care insurance to apply.   CEO Nate Clark says depending on your income, you may even also qualify for federal tax credits: "It will help off-set the cost of your monthly insurance premium. And also depending on your income you could qualify for no-fee or very, very low fee insurance coverage." Minnesotans encouraged to apply those that have lost their employer-sponsored health insurance or [...]

MPCA rolls out new electric school bus pilot project

By |2020-08-06T05:42:10-05:00August 6th, 2020|

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) today announced a new pilot project that will help fund at least six electric school buses in communities across the state. MPCA Commissioner Laura Bishop says she's committed to a move away from diesel-powered buses for two reasons: "One, we know that they're a major source of emissions in our local neighborhoods and two, because we know that children are especially vulnerable to the negative impacts of air pollution." The new buses are expected on the roads in fall 2022. Officials say each new electric school bus will remove 29 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. [...]

Smith, Lewis square off over China trade during FarmFest virtual debate

By |2020-08-05T07:38:26-05:00August 5th, 2020|

Republican U-S Senate candidate Jason Lewis said in Tuesday's "virtual" FarmFest debate that the U-S should move to the "next phase" of trade with China because it's an important market, especially for corn and soybeans: "We're starting to see really, really good results from getting tough on China on phase one just this last couple of weeks: record corn purchases." Democratic U-S Senator Tina Smith responded it's good there's a "phase one" agreement with China, but the U-S still doesn't know whether that nation will live up to it: "The erratic, chaotic approach to the negotiations with China I think have [...]

HealthParnters Dr. offers back-to-school advice amid COVID-19

By |2020-08-05T07:20:06-05:00August 5th, 2020|

Parents, students and teachers around the state are prepping for a back-to-school season unlike any other in recent memory. School districts are deciding how best to best proceed amid COVID-19--with guidance from the state. Some schools will likely require distance learning--which HealthPartners pediatrician Dr. Andrea Singh says has its pros and cons... "As a pediatrician I kind of cringe when I think about the amount of time this spring that my kids spent on their computers, but at the same time, they were learning and they were connecting with their friends, all of which are important for their mental well-being and [...]

Suicide rates up across Minnesota

By |2020-08-05T07:03:52-05:00August 5th, 2020|

In Minnesota, the suicide rate increased by 48% compared to the national average of 37% from 2000-2018. Although Minnesota’s suicide rate is the 12th lowest among the states, it had the 18th highest rate of increase: "The largest increase in suicide death rates that we found since 2000 was children ages 10-to-14 and their suicide death rate was the lowest of all the groups we looked at it nearly doubled." Colin Planalp is a senior research fellow at the U of M's State Health Access Data Assistance Center (SHADAC) and lead author of the report.

US Senate candidates debate at “virtual” FarmFest

By |2020-08-05T07:24:59-05:00August 5th, 2020|

How to diversify Minnesota's rural economy -- the question for U-S Senate candidates during the debate at the "virtual" FarmFest 2020. Democratic Senator Tina Smith: "We need to make sure there's good access to capital. We need to make sure that we protect rural hospitals, which are gonna make it more likely that people are gonna live in those communities.   And we need to lift up the good ideas that are happening in those communities. Republican challenger, former Congressman Jason Lewis says: "It starts with a good business climate, and it doesn't help when Minnesota has the fifth-highest taxes in the [...]

Voters group sues Walz over mask mandate, says it contradicts state law

By |2020-08-05T07:22:20-05:00August 5th, 2020|

A group called the Minnesota Voters Alliance is suing Governor Tim Walz in federal court over his mask mandate -- saying voters who wear face coverings to the polls for next Tuesday's primary election will violate a 1963 Minnesota law that makes it illegal to wear a mask in public. Republican state Representative Tim Miller from Prinsburg: "What the governor is doing, both here and with the emergency powers, is either unconstitutional or certainly against the laws of the State of Minnesota." Attorney General Keith Ellison says he stands behind the legality and constitutionality of the governor's executive order. He says [...]

State to close prisons in Willow River, Togo

By |2020-08-04T06:55:52-05:00August 4th, 2020|

State officials for budget reasons are closing Minnesota's two smallest prisons, in Willow River and Togo, and will move inmates to two other facilities -- either Stillwater, Faribault, Lino Lakes or Red Wing.   And what about COVID concerns, we asked Corrections Commissioner Paul Schnell: "We will increase the density but we will manage this. We're able to manage this a little bit better because our (prison) population is as low as it is.   And we are really mindful and careful about how we do this." The American Civil Liberties Union plans to appeal after a judge threw out a [...]

MDH renews call for plasma donations amid COVID-19

By |2020-08-04T06:52:25-05:00August 4th, 2020|

State health officials have renewed a call for plasma donors amid COVID-19. "The reasons these donations are important is that people who have had COVID-19 develop antibodies to attack the virus that can be found in their plasma." The state Health Department's Kris Ehresmann says the plasma is being evaluated by researchers as a potential treatment for patients with serious or immediately life-threatening COVID infections.