How much impact could Sturgis rally have on COVID caseload?
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Health officials across five states have linked 178 virus cases to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. In the three weeks since the rally kicked off, coronavirus cases in South Dakota have shot up at a startling pace. State health officials have reported 63 cases among rallygoers from South Dakota so far. The epicenter of the rally, Meade County, is reaching a per capita rate that’s similar to the hardest-hit states of the South. Health experts say the pandemic fallout from the rally won’t be seen for weeks and an exact case count will likely remain unknown. But they’re worried that large gatherings across the Upper Midwest will feed a fresh wave of the virus.
Minnesota’s reading, math assessment scores slipping
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota students scored dramatically worse on this year’s reading and math assessment tests after the pandemic disrupted school settings. The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports only 44% of students were proficient in math, down 11% from 2019, and 53% were proficient in reading, down 7% from two years ago. Students didn’t take the tests last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Black and Hispanic students’ math proficiency rate fell 34% compared with 19% for white students. About 77% of eligible students completed the tests, down from the usual 98%. The Biden administration in April granted Minnesota a waiver from using the results to identify low-performing schools that get state support.
4 Line 3 protesters arrested at Minnesota Capitol
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota troopers on Friday arrested four people protesting Enbridge Energy’s Line 3 replacement pipeline project at the state Capitol. Videos posted on social media showed law enforcement officers surrounding about a dozen protesters. About 1,000 demonstrators gathered earlier in the week for a major rally calling on Democratic Gov. Tim Walz and President Joe Biden to pull permits and shut down the replacement pipeline project. A spokesman for the Department of Public Safety says officials had met with group leaders to have them remove a teepee that remained after the permit for the protest expired. Spokesman Bruce Gordon told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that some people were uncooperative, leading to four arrests.
MINNESOTA STATE FAIR
Minnesota State Fair first-day attendance down by half
FALCON HEIGHTS, Minn. (AP) — First-day attendance at the Minnesota State Fair was down by roughly half as the fair returned after missing last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. With simmering concern over the delta variant, and fair officials declining to require masks or proof of vaccinations, Thursday’s attendance was 61,983. That’s less than half of the 2019 record of about 133,000. Thursday’s light turnout was also likely affected by violent thunderstorms that moved through the Minneapolis-St. Paul area in the afternoon. Fair officials announced earlier this month they wouldn’t require face masks or proof of vaccination to attend this year’s event. Around 150 vendors have pulled out, though labor shortages and supply chain issues have also been cited as factors.
COVID-19 outbreak quarantines nearly 300 Albert Lea students
ALBERT LEA, Minn. (AP) — Administrators in the Albert Lea school district say the coronavirus has significantly disrupted the start of classes with nearly 300 students quarantining for exposure. After five days of classes at Albert Lea Area Schools, there have been 36 positive cases, sending 290 students into quarantine and prompting changes to the district’s face mask requirements. Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said Friday that the expiration of Gov. Tim Walz’s peacetime emergency powers prevents state health officials from mandating prevention measures for schools. She said that’s caused some administrators and school boards to think the state’s recommendations aren’t essential. She said Albert Lea shows why it’s important to follow those recommendations with the delta variant causing rapid spread.
HUMAN TRAFFICKING ARRESTS
12-state human trafficking operation nets rescues 47 victims
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt says a 12-state law enforcement operation rescued 47 victims of human trafficking and led to the arrest of more than 100 people. Schmitt said most of the arrests were made Thursday night into Friday morning. The effort, called Operation United Front, used undercover officers who arranged to meet potential human trafficking victims or who posed as victims to identify a buyer or trafficker. In Missouri, two arrests were made and four victims were rescued at a Kansas City business. The operation was conducted in Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin.
STUDENT TEST SCORES
Coronavirus disruptions blamed for lower student test scores
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Education officials say school disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic have resulted in significant drops in math and reading test scores for Minnesota students. The Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments results released Friday show proficiency rates fell 11 percentage points to 44% in math and 7 points to 53% in reading, since 2019. The Trump administration let states cancel their spring 2020 tests as the pandemic began to take hold and schools transitioned to distance learning. This year, Minnesota largely tried to administer its tests as usual even though some school districts and states got partial waivers from the Biden administration. About 77 percent of eligible Minnesota students completed their tests. That’s down from the usual 98 percent.
Man pleads guilty after bragging about plans to kill officer
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A southern Minnesota man has pleaded guilty to illegally possessing a firearm after he bragged about his illegal shotgun and plans to kill a police officer at a Donald Trump rally at the state Capitol. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports the 22-year-old Dayton Sauke of Owatonna entered his plea in federal court in Minneapolis on Wednesday. According to court records, the man posted antigovernment sentiments and photos of him holding guns on social media before the January rally. He also expressed a desire to kill a police officer at the rally, made numerous posts about building and selling guns without a license and posted photos of a sawed-off shotgun.
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