Walz Calls Another Special Session, Says He Will Extend COVID-19 Emergency Powers

Gov. Tim Walz said he plans to extend his COVID-19 peacetime emergency declaration for another 30 days when lawmakers return to St. Paul Monday for a special session.

The governor announced Friday night that he has convened a special legislative session for July 13, the same day his peacetime emergency declaration is set to expire. According to Minnesota law, the governor must convene both houses of the Legislature if he wishes to extend a peacetime emergency when the Legislature is not in session.

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DFL Targets State Senate Republicans on Police Reform in New Ad Campaign

The Minnesota DFL Party launched a new ad campaign this week targeting key Republican state senators who are accused of “standing in the way of passing real police reform.”

Jason Lewis, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, said in a recent interview that Democrats don’t “want reform” so much as they “want a political issue.”

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Jason Lewis Says Parents Should Be Refunded for Property Taxes If Schools Don’t Reopen

Republican Senate candidate Jason Lewis said parents should be refunded for property tax payments and tuition if schools aren’t allowed to reopen in the fall.

“The more we learn about COVID, the more it becomes apparent that we have done a huge disservice to our children in the way we have handled this virus. Research has proven that COVID presents minimal risks to young people. But what isn’t minimal is the toll this prolonged lockdown and social isolation has on our kids’ social, mental, and physical well-being,” Lewis said in a statement released Wednesday.

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Walz Expected to Call Another Special Session to Extend Emergency Powers

Gov. Tim Walz is expected to call another special session by the end of the week in order to extend his peacetime emergency powers.

House Speaker Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) alerted members and staff in a Monday email about the likely special session.

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Republicans Invoke Independence Day In Opposition to Walz’s Coronavirus Response

Gov. Tim Walz recently filed a motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought against him regarding his use of emergency powers during the coronavirus pandemic.

The lawsuit was filed on May 28 by four members of the New House Republican Caucus, the Free Minnesota Coalition, and at least eight businesses across the state. The complaint argues that the governor does not have the authority to “suspend the constitutional rights of Minnesotans.”

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Walz Asks Federal Government to Help Twin Cities Rebuild from $500M Worth of Rioting Damage

Gov. Tim Walz has requested federal financial assistance to help the Twin Cities recover from more than $500 million worth of damage caused by rioting.

In a press release, Walz’s office said nearly 1,500 Twin Cities businesses were vandalized, burned, or looted during the late May riots, with current estimates of the damage exceeding $500 million.

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Judge Threatens to Move Trial Out of Minneapolis If Public Officials Don’t Stop Speaking Out About Floyd Case

A Minnesota judge on Monday warned that he’s likely to move the trials of four former police officers charged in George Floyd’s death out of Minneapolis if public officials, attorneys and family members don’t stop speaking out about the case.

Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill stopped short of issuing a gag order against attorneys on both sides, but he said he likely will if public statements continue that make it hard to find an impartial jury. Cahill said that would also make him likely to grant a change-of-venue motion if one is filed, as he anticipates.

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Judge Threatens to Move Trial Out of Minneapolis If Public Officials Don’t Stop Speaking Out About Floyd Case

A Minnesota judge on Monday warned that he’s likely to move the trials of four former police officers charged in George Floyd’s death out of Minneapolis if public officials, attorneys and family members don’t stop speaking out about the case.

Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill stopped short of issuing a gag order against attorneys on both sides, but he said he likely will if public statements continue that make it hard to find an impartial jury. Cahill said that would also make him likely to grant a change-of-venue motion if one is filed, as he anticipates.

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Walz Says Statewide Mask Mandate Is ‘On the Table’

Gov. Tim Walz said a statewide mask mandate to help curb the spread of COVID-19 is “on the table” during a Monday press conference.

According to Walz, Republican governors who participated in a Monday phone call with Vice President Mike Pence were also “exploring the idea.”

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Walz Says Statewide Mask Mandate Is ‘On the Table’

Gov. Tim Walz said a statewide mask mandate to help curb the spread of COVID-19 is “on the table” during a Monday press conference.

According to Walz, Republican governors who participated in a Monday phone call with Vice President Mike Pence were also “exploring the idea.”

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‘Train Wreck’ Special Session Cost Estimated $108,000

The Minnesota Legislature’s recent special session ended with no major accomplishments, but the eight-day session will still cost taxpayers an estimated $108,000.

The special session concluded on June 20 after Republicans in the Senate and Democrats in the House failed to reach an agreement on police reform legislation, the allocation of federal coronavirus relief funds, and other leftover business from the regular session, such as a borrowing package for public infrastructure projects.

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Walz Distributes $841M in Federal COVID Aid to Cities, Counties

Gov. Tim Walz approved plans Thursday to distribute $841 million in federal coronavirus aid to cities and counties across Minnesota, along with another $12 million for food banks and food shelves that have seen a surge in demand since the pandemic hit the state.

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Two Weeks Later, Investigation Into Toppling of Minnesota’s Christopher Columbus Statue Still Ongoing

It’s been two weeks since a Christopher Columbus statue was toppled outside the Minnesota Capitol, but the Minnesota Department of Public Safety said the investigation remains ongoing.

A spokesperson for the agency told KSTP chief political reporter Tom Hauser that the “investigation continues as the [Bureau of Criminal Apprehension] works to identify other participants in the incident, beyond the leader.”

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Minnesota Ends ‘Train Wreck’ Special Session With No Deal on Policing, Bonding Bill

Minnesota legislative leaders traded barbs Saturday after a special session collapsed with no deal on revamping policing following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, a session that one group called “a train wreck.”

The two sides may be back at it in another special session next month.

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Republicans Say Gov. Walz Has Failed to Provide Legal Justification for Coronavirus Shutdown

Republican lawmakers who sued Gov. Tim Walz said Friday that he has failed to provide legal justification for his response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We are winning on this issue, and Gov. Walz knows it,” said Rep. Jeremy Munson (R-Lake Crystal), one of 13 Republican lawmakers who joined a lawsuit against Walz over his use of emergency powers during the pandemic.

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Nine More Lawmakers Join Lawsuit Against Gov. Walz Over Use of Emergency Powers

Nine more Republican lawmakers have joined a lawsuit against Gov. Tim Walz regarding his use of emergency powers during the coronavirus pandemic.

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St. Paul Saints to Play Season in Sioux Falls for Now Because of ‘Capacity Restrictions’

The St. Paul Saints announced Friday that the team will be participating in a 60-game season beginning July 3, but all games will be played in Sioux Falls, South Dakota until “capacity restrictions for outdoor events have relaxed.”

The American Association of Independent Professional Baseball said the shortened season will run from July 3 to September 10, concluding with a championship series between the top two teams. The league will consist of six teams based in three separate hubs.

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Eden Prairie School Board Member Criticizes ‘Unacceptable’ Lack of Direction from Walz Admin on Upcoming School Year

An Eden Prairie School Board member broke his silence Monday after learning that the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) won’t be releasing state guidance on the upcoming academic year until July 27.

Three scenarios are possible for the 2020-21 school year, including continued distance learning, the resumption of in-person instruction, or a mix of the two.

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Resolution to End Walz’s Peacetime Emergency Fails to Pass, But Receives Bipartisan Support

Yet another resolution to end Gov. Tim Walz’s peacetime emergency declaration was rejected Friday, but this time the proposal received bipartisan support in both the House and Senate.

The resolution passed the Republican-controlled Senate in a vote of 38-29, with three Democratic senators joining Republicans in voting to end the governor’s emergency powers, which first took effect March 13 in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

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After Protesters Tear Down Columbus Statue, Minnesota Lt. Governor Welcomes Removal

The protesters and activists who tore down a statue of Christopher Columbus outside the Minnesota Capitol Wednesday faced virtually no resistance from state leaders or law enforcement.

In fact, after the statue was toppled over, Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan said Minnesota “is long overdue for a hard look at the symbols, statues, and icons that were created without the input of many of our communities.”

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Minnesota Hasn’t Used $6.9 Million Facility It Bought to Store Deceased Coronavirus Patients

Due to a projected surge in coronavirus fatalities, the state of Minnesota spent $6.9 million to acquire a warehouse for the “temporary storage of human remains,” but the facility has so far gone unused.

“What’s contemplated by the purchase is to buy a building where we can properly handle with dignity and respect and safety the bodies of Minnesotans who may fall victim to the coronavirus,” Minnesota Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Joe Kelly said during a press conference in early May.

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Conservative Journalist Banned from Gov. Walz’s Press Briefings Without Explanation

A conservative journalist has sued Gov. Tim Walz’s administration after he was barred from participating in the governor’s daily press briefings on the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the lawsuit, Scott Johnson, an attorney and writer for PowerLine, was allowed to participate in the daily briefings until April 27, when he was suddenly “excluded from all future daily briefings without explanation.”

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DFL Lawmakers Want State and Federal Aid to Rebuild Minneapolis

DFL lawmakers want the state and federal governments to chip in to help repair the estimated $55 million in damage caused to Minneapolis in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

Minnesota House Speaker Melissa Hortman (DFL-Brooklyn Park) and the Legislature’s People of Color and Indigenous Caucus called for “immediate legislative funding for Minneapolis and St. Paul rebuilding efforts” in a joint statement.

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City of Minneapolis, State Patrol Sued for Attacks on Journalists During Riots

A class-action lawsuit was filed this week against the leaders of the Minneapolis Police Department, the Minnesota State Patrol, and the Minnesota Department of Public Safety for their “attacks” on journalists during last week’s riots.

“The press is under assault in our City. Over the past week, the Minneapolis Police and the Minnesota State Patrol have tear-gassed, pepper-sprayed, shot in the face with rubber bullets, arrested without cause, and threatened journalists at gunpoint, all after these journalists identified themselves and were otherwise clearly engaged in their reporting duties,” states the lawsuit.

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Fargo Leaders Ask for Peace as Walz Sends National Guard to Clay County

Black leaders in North Dakota’s largest city pleaded for calm Thursday in the face of violent threats to disrupt a gathering in memory of George Floyd and advertised the event as a celebration, not a protest.

The OneFargo event is scheduled Friday afternoon at a downtown Fargo park. Organizers had planned to march from Island Park to City Hall for a sit-in, but have scrapped that idea after social media threats surfaced to burn down the city offices and commit other violent acts.

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Pace of Minnesota Unemployment Slows, But Claims Still Near 440,000

 Even as Gov. Tim Walz allows more sectors of the economy to open, Minnesota unemployment ticked upward to 439,550 total claims in the week ending May 30, compared to 417,084 claims the prior week ending May 23.

All told, 22,466 new unemployment claims were filed in the state last week, a drop of 4,745 claims from the 27,211 claims initiated the prior week, an 18.5 percent week-over-week decrease.

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Department of Human Rights Launches Civil Rights Investigation of Minneapolis Police Department

Gov. Tim Walz and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights announced Tuesday that the state will begin a civil rights investigation of the Minneapolis Police Department after one of its officers was charged with murder in the death of George Floyd.

The state agency has also filed a human rights complaint against the police department in relation to Floyd’s death.

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Walz Condemns House DFL Leader for Falsely Claiming Truck Driver at Center of 35W Incident Was ‘White Supremacist’

Minnesota House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler (DFL-Golden Valley) falsely claimed that the truck driver at the center of Sunday’s frightening incident on I-35W was a “white supremacist.”

State officials said the driver, who has been identified as 35-year-old Bogdan Vechirko, might not have realized that the interstates had been shut down in an effort to quell unrest in the Twin Cities. Vechirko was arrested on suspicion of assault and remains jailed, but Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington said Monday that he didn’t seem to be acting intentionally.

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‘Majority’ of Those Arrested in Riots Are from Minnesota, Public Safety Commissioner Confirms

As of Monday afternoon, the “majority” of those arrested in the Twin Cities for rioting, violating curfew, looting or other similar charges had Minnesota addresses.

“That would be accurate,” Department of Public Safety Commissioner John Harrington confirmed during a Monday press conference. During a previous briefing, he said he didn’t “have any credible evidence of any specific group being here in Minnesota.”

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Jail Records Contradict Claims That Most Rioters Are from Out of State

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter, and Gov. Tim Walz all have suggested that many of the rioters wreaking havoc on the Twin Cities are from out of state, but jail records seem to show otherwise.

“We’ve seen long-term, institutional businesses overridden. We’ve seen community institutions set on fire. And I want to be very, very clear, the people that are doing this are not Minneapolis residents. They are coming in largely from outside of the city, from outside of the region, to prey on everything that we have built over the last several decades. The dynamic has changed over the last several days,” Frey said during a joint Saturday press conference.

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Minnesota National Guard Working Toward 10,800 Troops for Twin Cities Area

The Minnesota National Guard now has more than 4,100 troops deployed in the Twin Cities and said it is working toward a total of 10,800 citizen-soldiers for the area.

“This is a significant increase over the 700 on-duty Friday. We live here. We work here. We serve here. We’re all in,” the National Guard said on Twitter Saturday.

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A City in Ruins: Three Nights of Riots Leave South Minneapolis Looking Like War Zone

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota – Three consecutive nights of rioting in response to the alleged murder of an unarmed black man at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer have left stretches of the city in ruins, producing scenes most accurately described as a war zone.

Officer Derek Chauvin, the man filmed pressing his knee into the neck of a handcuffed George Floyd, was arrested Friday on charges of murder and manslaughter. He and three colleagues involved in the incident were fired from the Minneapolis Police Department Tuesday.

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Mayor Frey Says George Floyd Would Be Alive ‘If He Were White,’ Calls Incident Murder

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said he thinks George Floyd was murdered and claimed Floyd “would be alive today if he were white.”

Video from the tragic Monday night incident shows a Minneapolis police officer pressing his knee into the neck of a handcuffed Floyd, who repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe. Floyd was pronounced dead shortly after he was taken into custody.

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Gov. Walz Activates National Guard in Response to Minneapolis Riots, Declares Emergency

Gov. Tim Walz announced Thursday afternoon that he has signed an executive order activating the Minnesota National Guard to help respond to the riots in Minneapolis.

Wednesday night’s riots were marked by widespread looting, vandalism, and arson, leaving portions of south Minneapolis in ruins. In one case, a construction site being developed for low-income housing was set ablaze early Thursday morning and collapsed into the street below it as rioters cheered.

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Twin Cities Mayors Don’t Want to Let Churches Reopen, Archbishop Hits Back

The mayors of Minneapolis and St. Paul, both Democrats, said in a recent statement that they want churches in their cities to continue to “hold services remotely.”

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter issued a join statement Saturday after Gov. Tim Walz announced he would allow churches to resume in-person worship.

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Senator Warns of ‘Major Crisis’ in Minnesota Nursing Homes, Says No Indication Trend Is Reversing

A state senator warned of a “major crisis” in Minnesota’s long-term care facilities in a letter sent last week to Gov. Tim Walz.

State Sen. Karin Housley (R-St. Mary’s Point), chair of the Senate Family Care and Aging Committee, applauded the governor for releasing a “five-point plan” earlier this month on addressing the crisis, but said she has seen “few indicators the trend is reversing.”

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Minnesota Reports 8.1 Percent Unemployment Rate for April

Minnesota’s unemployment rate increased to 8.1 percent in April, the first full month impacted by coronavirus restrictions.

Between March and April, the state’s unemployment rate jumped from 2.9 percent to 8.1 percent. Nationally, the unemployment rate rose from 4.4 percent in March to 14.7 percent in April.

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Minnesota to ‘Allow’ Churches to Reopen After Faith Leaders Defy Governor’s Orders

Gov. Tim Walz announced Saturday that he would lift his restrictions on religious services and allow all places of worship to open for larger groups beginning Wednesday.

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Minnesota State Fair Canceled for First Time in More Than 70 Years

The general manager of the Minnesota State Fair announced Friday morning that the annual gathering will be canceled this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“We’ve been working hard and doing our very best with preparations for the 2020 State Fair. The picture was cloudy in March, but things have cleared up considerably since then. Right now is the time of year when things need to really take off if we’re going to have a fair, but we can see that we’re out of runway and can’t get off the ground. There will be no State Fair this year,” General Manager Jerry Hammer said in a statement.

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Walz Stumbles Incoherently Over Explanation for Why Churches Are Limited to 10 People, But Restaurants Can Host 50

Gov. Tim Walz announced Wednesday that bars and restaurants can now host up to 50 people for outdoor dining, but churches are still required to limit both indoor and outdoor services to 10 people.

The governor was asked during his Wednesday press briefing why restaurants can host 40 more people than churches for outdoor gatherings.

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Mayor Calls on Walz to Immediately Reopen Greater Minnesota Businesses

A mayor in Greater Minnesota called for immediately reopening businesses in his region in a letter sent Monday to Gov. Tim Walz.

Cambridge Mayor James Godfrey pointed to the “significant difference” in the spread of the coronavirus in rural Minnesota compared to the Metro area. Cambridge is located in Isanti County, which had just 20 confirmed cases and zero deaths as of Wednesday.

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Minnesota Senate Bill Would Require Governor to Seek Legislative Approval for Extending Future Peacetime Emergencies

The Minnesota Senate passed a bill last week that would require the governor to obtain legislative approval before extending any future peacetime emergencies.

The bill, authored by Sen. David Osmek (R-Mound), passed Friday in a vote of 36-31, but failed to advance in the DFL-controlled House before the legislative session expired Sunday night.

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Bonfire Restaurants Latest COVID Casualty, Announces Permanent Closure of All Locations

Bonfire Restaurants announced Friday that it will permanently close all five of its Minnesota locations because of the economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The company said in a statement that its locations in Blaine, Eagan, Mankato, Savage, and Woodbury will not be reopening.

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Jason Lewis Files Lawsuit Against Gov. Walz Over Stay at Home Order

Republican Senate candidate Jason Lewis announced Tuesday that he has filed a lawsuit against Gov. Tim Walz over his stay-at-home order.

The lawsuit marks at least the third legal challenge to Walz’s stay-at-home order. According to a press release from Lewis’s campaign, the lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District for the District of Minnesota.

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Analysis: Minnesota Has Highest Percent of COVID-19 Deaths in Long-Term Care Facilities in the Nation

About 81.7 percent of Minnesota’s COVID-19 deaths were in nursing homes and residential care communities, the highest percentage state in the nation that reports such data.

That’s according to data from The Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity (FREOPP), a Texas-based nonprofit think tank.

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Minnesota Citizens Protest Shutdown Again Outside Govs’s Mansion

Hundreds of protestors congregated in front of Governor Tim Walz’s executive mansion, Thursday, to protest Minnesota’s thrice extended economic shutdowns.

The demonstration began around noon, as concerned citizens lined the street outside the governor’s mansion holding protest signs and flags as vehicles adorned with anti-shutdown messages drove slowly down Summit Avenue in St. Paul. Those in attendance aimed to express their displeasure with how Walz has handled Minnesota’s COVID-19 response.

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Lewis Says Any Politician Who Purports to Represent the People Can’t ‘Deny Them Their God-Given Right to Earn a Living’

  There’s no “pandemic exception” to the Bill of Rights, Republican Senate candidate Jason Lewis told The Minnesota Sun in a recent interview. That’s the same argument U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr made in an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt. “We have three branches of government, and allowing the…

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Gov. Tim Walz Extends Peacetime Emergency Order Until Mid-June

Gov. Tim Walz announced late Wednesday that he will extend Minnesota’s peacetime emergency order for thirty days.

“Our actions have saved lives, but the threat of COVID-19 remains,” Walz said. “The next stages of this pandemic are going to challenge us – an extension of Minnesota’s peacetime emergency will allow us to protect Minnesotans’ health and wellbeing and continue to respond effectively to this rapidly-evolving situation.”

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