Minnesota health officials announced a new at-home saliva test pilot program Thursday that will allow residents in two dozen counties or tribal nations to test themselves for COVID-19. Le Sueur and Steele County were included in the list. The state reported more than 1,500 new cases of the coronavirus and 20 new deaths. The updated numbers Thursday bring the state's totals to more than 128,000 confirmed cases since the pandemic began and put the state over 2,300 deaths. Neighboring states continue to outpace Minnesota in case growth, with Wisconsin, North Dakota, and South Dakota among the top states in new cases [...]
The American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota is suing the state, alleging prison officials have not taken adequate precautions to protect inmates from COVID-19. The ACLU-MN filed a petition asking a court to force the state to keep people in custody safe. The Department of Corrections did not immediately comment on Thursday. According to a DOC database, 937 inmates in the prison systems have tested positive for the virus, with 270 cases still active. Two inmates' deaths have been linked to COVID-19.
A truck driver who drove into a large crowd of protesters on a bridge in Minneapolis following the killing of George Floyd has been charged with two criminal counts. Prosecutors charged 35-year-old Bogdan Vechirko, of Otsego, on Thursday with making threats of violence and criminal vehicular operation. The Star Tribune reports the charges allege he sought to “scare” protesters out of his path. And they allege he could have seen the crowd ahead in plenty of time to stop. Vechirko drove onto the bridge as thousands of pedestrians protested. Nobody was seriously hurt. Vechirko says he didn't meant to drive into [...]
A Minnesota judge has dismissed a third-degree murder charge against the former Minneapolis police officer who knelt on George Floyd's neck, but the more serious second-degree murder charge against Derek Chauvin remains. Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill's ruling was made public Thursday. Chauvin now faces two counts going forward: second-degree murder and manslaughter. Cahill denied defense requests to dismiss the aiding and abetting counts against three other former officers, Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao. Floyd, a Black man who was in handcuffs, died May 25 after Chauvin pressed his knee on Floyd's neck as Floyd said he couldn't [...]
Minnesota health officials reported Monday that weekly case growth has surpassed growth in weekly testing for the first time since the pandemic began. The state health department reported over 1,600 new cases of the coronavirus and five new deaths after setting a one-day record of nearly 2,300 new cases late last week. Minnesota ranks 16th in the country for new cases per capita over the last two weeks. Though cases have been steadily rising statewide, outbreaks in Wisconsin and North and South Dakota have outpaced Minnesota's case growth in recent weeks.
Like political contests around the country, Minnesota’s general election is expected to be like none other. The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted a record number of Minnesota’s eligible voters to seek absentee ballots. Early voting has been taking place at a breakneck pace. And state elections officials have gotten a court’s approval to count absentee ballots for up to a week after Election Day, meaning winners might not be declared for days. Minnesota Secretary of State Steve Simon says the state’s voting system can be trusted, and the changes are all part of a plan to keep elections safe during the pandemic.
The Minnesota Department of Health is reporting 1,732 new cases of the coronavirus and 17 deaths on the last day. The update released Sunday shows the total number of cases in Minnesota at 122,812, including more than 32,200 in Hennepin County. There have been 2,234 deaths since the pandemic began. Of the deaths confirmed Sunday, 14 were residents of long-term care facilities. The COVID Tracking Project notes there were about 326 new cases per 100,000 people in Minnesota over the past two weeks, which ranks 18th in the country for new cases per capita.
A new report says damage estimates from a rare wind storm that slammed Iowa and some other parts of the Midwest in August are growing. The total is now $7.5 billion. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the Aug. 10 storm is currently the second-costliest U.S. disaster so far in 2020, although cost estimates for the widespread wildfires along the West Coast aren’t yet available. The August storm hit Iowa hard but also caused damage in Illinois, Ohio, Minnesota and Indiana. The most expensive disaster so far this year was Hurricane Laura, which caused $14 billion in damage along the [...]
Minnesota has reported 29 new COVID-19 deaths, it's highest one-day death toll since early June, as the coronavirus spreads at high levels across the state. The Minnesota Department of Health on Wednesday also reported 1,254 new cases. That number is boosted by the department’s decision to start reporting probable cases, as determined by newer technology antigen tests. Those tests are less accurate than the more common PCR tests, also known as molecular tests, which are considered the gold standard. But antigen tests have the advantages of producing faster results and being usable by providers that don’t have full labs.
A federal judge has upheld a state court agreement that extends the deadline for counting absentee ballots in Minnesota by seven days. Republicans went to court to block the extension. Democratic Secretary of State Steve Simon agreed to extend the ballot deadline after a citizens’ rights group cited voter safety concerns due to the coronavirus. Republicans argued the extension violates a federal law that sets Nov. 3 as Election Day. But attorneys for the state said blocking the extension would create confusion.