Minnesotans who have tested positive for COVID can now download an app to their phones that will alert close contacts about potential exposure. Officials say it's totally voluntary and anonymous. The app uses G-P-S information to identify phones that have been within six feet for 15 minutes -- so it will anonymously notify people that a person doesn't even remember they were near. Minnesota I-T Commissioner Tarek Tomes: "Even with as little as 10 to 15 percent adoption of this app and the willingness to warn others and then the willingness of taking the critical steps to follow health guidance and [...]
As the holiday shopping season gets into full swing retail groups say they are seeing a "solid shop in your community" message. Bruce Nustad president of the Minnesota Retailers Association says store owners have gotten creative to serve their customers amid COVID-19 concerns: "A lot of curbside, a lot of delivery, a lot of shipping. And of course, when it comes to in-store we're actually seeing sort of some hour expansion and the idea being there you sort of spread your customers out a little bit more over a longer day." Retail sales in the U.S. grew just .3 percent in [...]
A positive reaction from Governor Tim Walz to the hospitality industry's request for state aid, as another COVID closure hits bars and restaurants. The governor says Minnesota must help those who are helping us: "When these people are following these orders and closing their doors, they're protecting the entire community -- they're protecting the workforce." The governor indicates it's too early to commit to specifics but he's talking with legislative leaders. The hospitality industry wants emergency grants, no-interest loans, sales tax forgiveness, property tax reductions, and a freeze on evictions of commercial hospitality tenants.
Statewide restrictions on bars and restaurants are now in effect to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Hospitality Minnesota CEO Liz Rammer says it's going to be "devastating" for the industry... "These are small businesses, independent operators, multi-generation, family-owned businesses, and they're struggling to survive, so they're friends and neighbors and making sure that you're patronizing them doing delivery, curbside, whatever it takes to keep the restaurants in business." Rammer is calling for immediate financial assistance from the state and says without it, many businesses may not be here in four weeks when the restrictions are set to be lifted.
A man accused of assaulting a Minnesota state trooper is in custody after an hours-long standoff at Saint John's University in Stearns County. The sheriff's office says the suspect assaulted the trooper when he was stopped for suspected D-W-I Thursday morning, was tracked to Saint John's and arrested that evening. State Patrol Chief, Colonel Matt Langer says while almost all traffic stops happen without any altercation, this one turned very quickly: "And I'm thankful that the end result wasn't worse for our trooper. We anticipate that he'll make a full recovery after healing from the injuries that he sustained. I'm thankful [...]
U.S. Senator Tina Smith continues work in Washington to secure more federal funding for COVID-19 relief: "We are at a very dangerous moment in this pandemic and it's really up to all of us to take the steps that we can take to keep ourselves, our families, and loved ones safe." Federal COVID money under the CARES Act is set to expire at the end of the year.
State Republican Party leaders allege "extreme abnormalities and statistical variations" from historic voter trends, as the state canvassing board prepares to certify Joe Biden tomorrow (Tues) as winner of the presidential election in Minnesota. Biden's margin was decisive and state G-O-P Chair Jennifer Carnahan acknowledges... "I think at this point it doesn't look like obviously there'd be a recount in Minnesota." So what's the benefit for Republicans to question the results, when it's clear that Biden won Minnesota? Hamline University Professor David Schultz says perhaps Republicans' objections were timed... ...."just as the State of Minnesota is getting ready to certify the [...]
State officials are expecting another jump in unemployment insurance claims as effects of the four-week bar and restaurant closings begin spreading through Minnesota's economy. Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Steve Grove says there is money available in Minnesota's unemployment insurance system: "It is of course borrowing from the federal government at this point, like almost every state in the nation, but we are ready to take on any influx of applications we get as a result of this four-week pause." But Grove says additional federal benefits that were available at the beginning of the pandemic -- the 600-dollar top-off, the 13-week [...]
State officials say Minnesotans should not hesitate to seek any mental health services they need due to pressure from the pandemic. Julie Hanenburg with Lighthouse Child and Family Services in Milaca says: "Our referrals and our intakes at this time have not increased in a way that would match the level of stress, and I think distress, that people are experiencing during the pandemic." Hanenburg says among the issues could be transportation, Internet access, and persisting stigma around accessing mental health services. Sue Abderholden with NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Minnesota says one reason there hasn't been the expected number [...]
Thanksgiving is going to look different for many Minnesotans this year as COVID cases continue to surge. State Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm has this reminder: "As tempting as it is to just stick with our cherished traditions this year, we really need people to reconsider and frankly not gather with other households, especially if those households include people in a high-risk category for severe illness." Minnesotans are being asked to limit their Thanksgiving to individual households.