Pfizer is expected to get the green light to expand COVID-19 vaccinations to children. State Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm: "Given the significant amount of cases we've seen in middle and high-school-age kids recently this expansion would be a real welcomed development and a significant step forward to make it that much harder for the virus to continue circulating and affecting people." If Pfizer gets the go-ahead, children 12 and up could start getting vaccinated later this month. Pfizer reports its COVID vaccine is 100-percent effective in that age group.
The Minnesota State Fair is hosting a "Kickoff to Summer at the Fair" on Memorial Day weekend (May 27-31). Spokesperson Danielle Dullinger says it's not meant to take the place of the Great Minnesota Get Together... "This is a way to give people a slice of the fair, this is basically to have an event because we haven't had one in quite some time." Dullinger says it's also a way to help the fair out financially after last year's cancelation due to COVID. A lottery process will be used to randomly select people for an opportunity to purchase tickets for the [...]
The monthly Creighton University survey of business leaders shows the Midwestern economy saw its biggest-ever economic bounce during April. On the zero to 100 scale, the business conditions index hit a record 73.9 for the month, its largest in almost three decades of surveys. Economist Ernie Goss says the region's economy, which includes Minnesota and eight other states, has posted growth for 11 straight months now: "This economy is moving along but it's constrained, if you can believe that, constrained by supply bottlenecks. Four out of the ten supply managers reported they were experiencing significant bottlenecks and delays in deliveries, so [...]
We are just over two weeks away from the opening of Valleyfair. The Shakopee amusement park is currently taking reservations online. Spokesperson Kelsey Megard says they're looking at a bounce back for fun in 2021. "We're definitely ready to make up for the fun we didn't have in 2020, in 2021. We're definitely excited to get Minnesota families back out into the park." Reservations are required before a visit to Valleyfair this year. The official opening date is Saturday May 22nd.
The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) is reminding everyone with addiction or drug abuse issues that help is available. That's in the wake of the latest data which shows that drug overdose deaths were up by about 27-percent in Minnesota last year. The MDH's Julie Bartkey drug overdose deaths are preventable... "You have to be alive to be able to recover, so the idea that recovery is possible is really a true statement and our role now is to amplify those partnerships and to keep working the good fight." Bartkey says resources are available for those in need online at the [...]
As more and more Minnesotans are vaccinated for COVID-19, the Minnesota Medical Association (MMA) is encouraging everyone to continue taking precautions to help slow the spread of coronavirus. "Soon we'll be able to vaccinate kids 12 and up when the approval comes and so we're getting so close, that for the protection of all, we need to continue to hang on and be prudent and continue to do those things that we've been doing all along." MMA President Dr. Marilyn Peitso. So far around two million Minnesotans have received the completed COVID-19 vaccine series.
Alcohol-related deaths are on the rise across Minnesota. University of Minnesota Researcher Colin Planalp expects this trend to continue upward: "Most alcohol deaths take years to develop as people engage in excessive alcohol consumption or risky drinking behaviors." Planalp says the pandemic has also led to increased alcohol sales and more people binge drinking.
Legislation co-authored by Senator Tina Smith to lower prescription drug costs was signed into law by President Biden: "We all know that prescription medicines just cost too much. And I've heard stories from Minnesotans that are choosing between buying their medicine and paying for groceries or rent or utility bills." Right now, pharmaceutical companies engage in “evergreening,” which allows them to extend their patents for five years when they make minor, insignificant changes to a drug.
With Governor Walz likely to announce further loosening of COVID restrictions later this week, the question is: Will it be enough for Republicans? Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka has hinted, unless Walz relinquishes COVID emergency powers, there might not be agreement on the budget -- requiring stopgap measures to avoid state government shutdown: "If the governor decides that he wants to hang onto emergency powers to keep businesses closed and force youth to wear masks playing sports, then you can expect a 'lights-on'-type budget." The governor responds his emergency powers are in place to protect public health if COVID flares up, [...]
Police reform is by far the most contentious issue as the Minnesota House and Senate open negotiations this morning (9am) on a public safety funding bill (9am): Democrats and the governor say much more needs to be done, but Senate Republicans say the legislature did a lot last year after George Floyd's death. But in this case, it's Governor Tim Walz who has the final say. Last week Walz wouldn't answer the question, will he *not* sign the state budget unless it includes police reform? The question is, would Walz endanger part or all of the state budget over police reform [...]