Minnesota health officials concerned over rise of BA.5 variant amid decline in reported COVID testing

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Jeremy Olson wrote that Minnesota has only three counties with high COVID-19 communities levels this week. However, a 70% rise in the number of U.S. states with that federal designation has concerned health officials. Southern and Western states are experiencing COVID-19 spikes due to the fast-growing BA.5 variant as well as a high rate for breakthrough infections among people with immunity. Minnesota’s dominant variant is BA.5. In late June, genomic sequencing revealed that BA.5 was found in 40% of COVID-positive samples. This rate is likely to have increased. According to Michael Osterholm (director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy), Coronavirus infections have declined steadily from 2,100 per person per day in May to below 1,300 in Minnesota. However, those numbers are likely to be undercut by declining COVID-19 test results and an increase in private at home tests.

Alex Derosier writes in Forum News Service: Minnesota experienced a record number drug overdose deaths, most of them due to the powerful synthetic opioid painkiller Fentanyl. In a report published Thursday, July 14, the Minnesota Department of Health stated that 2021 saw a 22% rise in overdose deaths compared to 2020. The state had nearly 600 more deaths last year than it did 10 years ago.

A WCCO TV story by Caroline Cummings states that the U.S. Treasury approved Thursday’s state request for federal funds to support a crucial state program . Federal officials approved $70 million to support the Border-to-Border Broadband Development Grant Program. This program has provided funding for broadband investments since 2014. Although the Minnesota Legislature had allocated the funds last summer, federal approval was required. The money is from Minnesota’s special pandemic relief fund, which is eligible for infrastructure improvements including broadband.

Jessie Van Berkel also wrote in the Star Tribune: ” Republican congressional hopeful Tyler Kistner was two months late filing his personal financial disclosure forms. This prompted his DFL opponent, U.S. Rep. Angie Craig, to file an ethics complaint. Their rematch in Minnesota’s Second Congressional District ranks among the most prominent House races of this year. Kistner filed his last disclosure just over a year ago. He was required to file another one in May or request an extension. Craig filed a complaint with the U.S. Attorney’s Office stating that Kistner had not yet done either, violating disclosure requirements, and effectively shielding her finances from public view. Craig’s campaign stated that the U.S. attorney general could be subject to a civil penalty up to $50,000 for not submitting required information.

Callan Gray, KSTP-TV says that more than 8 million Ukrainians were forced from their homes by the Russian invasion. According to the Minnesota Department of Human Services around 300 people were admitted to Minnesota as humanitarian parolees. DHS spokeswoman said that 857 Ukrainians are applying to move to Minnesota.

Courtney Godfrey, KMSP-TV says that students in public funded early education classes can no longer use a screen unless they are engaged by their teachers. The new law is designed to make classroom screen usage active and engaging. Lisa Venable, Early Education Consultant, stated that screens don’t provide this. Research repeatedly shows that screen use in children’s early years can have a negative impact on brain development. Recently, the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Pediatrics scanned the brains of children aged 3 to 5, and found that screen-using children who spend more than an hour per day without supervision had lower development levels.

KatelynVue writes for the Star Tribune: The water from the overflowing tank at the IDS Center poured down for several hours earlier in the week, causing damage to 25 floors of Minnesota’s tallest building. Workers continued to care for the affected floors on Thursday. As a precaution, power was also cut to the areas affected by Tuesday’s overflow.

FOX 9 reports ” After 64-years in business, David Fong’s restaurant in Bloomington, Minnesota will close its doors. It has been in business since 1958 and says that it will still be serving meals until August. Fong’s Chow Mein was originally a small take-out restaurant that Helen and David Sr. opened. Fong’s quickly outgrew that location and opened its current location at Lyndale Avenue South at West 94th Street in 1966. Since then, the business has been in the Fong family. David’s son Edward will now be leaving the business. Other Fong siblings still own locations in Prior Lake and Savage.

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