MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Roman Catholic and Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod congregations across Minnesota plan to resume holding worship services in defiance of the state’s ban on gatherings of more than 10 people. The announcement represents the strongest direct challenge yet to restrictions imposed by Gov. Tim Walz to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Archbishop Bernard Hebda and the Rev. Lucas Woodford say the restrictions are an unconstitutional violation of religious freedom. Also Thursday, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey ordered people to wear masks or other cloth face coverings starting Tuesday inside stores, hotels, recreation centers, the skyway system and other government [...]
DULUTH, Minn. (Star Tribune) — Essentia Health says it is laying off 900 employees as the coronavirus pandemic cuts into business. Essentia Health CEO David Herman said Thursday that the recent cost-reduction measures the Duluth-based health care system has taken “are not sufficient to preserve our mission and the health of the organization.” The Star Tribune reports the cuts represent 6 percent of Essentia’s workforce. The cuts are in addition to 850 Essentia employees who have been placed on administrative leave. Minnesota hospitals are dealing with a steep drop in business while preparing for an expected surge of COVID-19 patients. Routine [...]
MINNEAPOLIS (Star Tribune) — The Minnesota Catholic Conference and the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod say they plan to hold services next week despite a ban on in-person worship of more than 10 people. The Star Tribune reports the two denominations sent Gov. Tim Walz separate letters this week to tell him they plan to open their doors to worship Tuesday, May 26. Some politicians and business leaders say Walz has not done enough to get the state back on track amid the coronavirus outbreak. Walz on Wednesday permitted restaurants and bars to reopen June 1 for outdoor dining with social distancing and [...]
MINNEAPOLIS (Minnesota Public Radio News) — State officials say the number of children entering foster care in Minnesota has dropped significantly since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, yet the number of inquiries about becoming a foster parent has doubled. A foster care specialist says the interest in fostering is especially encouraging given the hard economic times people may be suffering. Minnesota Public Radio News reports that the state says there is a particular need for homes willing to care for teenagers, who make up more than one-quarter of the youth in foster care. On average, 10,000 children are in foster [...]
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — State employees in Minnesota will see promised pay raises after the state’s budget agency ruled that legislators don’t have the authority to modify them. The ruling from Minnesota Management and Budget came after Senate Republicans voted to postpone a 2.5% pay raise that was due in July. Republicans argued that the contracts should be renegotiated because the state faces huge revenue losses due to the coronavirus pandemic. The budget agency's legal review determined that the Senate's vote to approve the contracts with raises postponed amounted to approval. Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka called the move a [...]
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Federal recommendations meant to keep meatpacking workers safe as they return to plants that were shuttered by the coronavirus have little enforcement muscle behind them. That is fueling anxiety that working conditions could put employees’ lives at risk. Extensive guidance issued last month by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention calls for meatpacking companies to erect physical barriers, enforce social distancing and install more hand-sanitizing stations, among other steps. But the guidance is not mandatory. OSHA’s general guidance plainly says the recommendations are advisory and not a regulation or a [...]
More than 2.4 million people applied for U.S. unemployment benefits last week in the latest wave of layoffs from the viral outbreak that triggered widespread business shutdowns and job cuts by major employers like Uber. The Labor Department says about 38.6 million people have now filed for jobless claims because of the coronavirus. Another 2.2 million people sought aid under a new federal program for self-employed, contractor and gig workers, who are eligible for jobless benefits for the first time. The continuing trend of heavy job cuts reflects an economy that is sinking into the worst recession since the Great Depression. Uber says it will [...]
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. government says the number of Americans thrown out of work since the coronavirus crisis struck two months ago has climbed to nearly 39 million. More than 2.4 million people applied for U.S. unemployment benefits last week in the latest wave of layoffs from the outbreak that triggered coast-to-coast business shutdowns and brought the economy to its knees, the Labor Department reported Thursday. That brings the running total to 38.6 million.
State health officials are apologizing for bungled COVID-19 testing at a St. Paul nursing home done by a Minnesota National Guard unit this week. Test samples from 300 residents and staff members at the Episcopal Church Home were ruined because they were not stored in coolers while being transported to labs at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. The guard unit was deployed to the nursing home Monday as part of the state’s effort to ramp up testing at long-term care facilities. The Star Tribune says that because there weren’t enough nasal swabs for the tests, a state health official allowed oral [...]
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota has recorded 29 more COVID-19 deaths, the second-highest one-day death toll of the pandemic. The new deaths raise the state’s total to 777, which includes 635 residents of long-term care facilities. The state’s highest one-day death toll was 30 reported May 6. All but three of the new deaths involved residents of long-term care facilities. The department also reported 645 new confirmed cases for a total of 17,670. The department issued the numbers just ahead of Gov. Tim Walz’s scheduled announcement Wednesday about plans for a phased reopening of bars, restaurants, salons and other establishments, with restrictions.