Minnesotans worry as COVID-19 spreads to nursing homes

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota residents are worried about their elderly loved ones as the coronavirus outbreak spreads to nursing homes.
At least 17 people living in nine senior care facilities across the state have become infected with COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, the Star Tribune reported. Public health officials are concerned that the virus already has spread to more facilities but has not been detected.
Adult children fear they won’t be able to touch their relatives again for weeks or months, or that their loved ones will die alone in locked-down facilities.
“I am trying to stay strong, but it’s absolutely tearing me apart that I can’t reach out and hug my mother,” said Jillian Van Hefty, whose mother has Alzheimer’s disease. “I don’t want her to feel abandoned.”
On a recent morning, Van Hefty stood with her 11-year-old son, Alex, as they waved and blew kisses to the 77-year-old woman. She waved back from behind a screened window at the All Saints Senior Living community in Shakopee.
Married couples who live in the same facilities also have been separated.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
Minnesota’s long-term-care industry is trying to avoid the scenarios such as what happened at a nursing home in Kirkland, Washington, where at least 37 deaths have been linked to the COVID-19 outbreak
“We know this is going to get worse, much worse,” said Jean Peters, president of Elder Voice Family Advocates, a volunteer group seeking better care for seniors.
Many Minnesota families are agonizing over whether to move their frail parents out of nursing homes. Those who cannot care for loved ones at home are struggling with separation and not knowing whether their relatives are safe.
“The choices we are being forced to make are gut-wrenching,” Patty Sagert said as she dropped off groceries for her elderly mother.

Minnesota reports 4 new COVID-19 deaths; total now 9

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minnesota reported four new deaths from COVID-19 on Sunday, bringing the state’s death toll from the new coronavirus to nine.
State Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said three of the new deaths were among people who lived in long-term care facilities in Hennepin County. The fourth death was in Martin County, in southern Minnesota, but was not linked to long-term care. Of the new Hennepin County deaths, two were in the same facility and one was in a different facility, Malcolm said.
The four deaths are the biggest one-day jump in Minnesota coronavirus deaths since the state’s first confirmed case was reported March 6, the Star Tribune reported. Minnesota’s death toll from the disease was at five on Saturday.
The Minnesota Department of Health on Sunday reported 503 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state, up 62 from the previous day. Of Minnesota’s confirmed cases, 252 people no longer need to be isolated, health officials said. As of Sunday, there were 39 cases of COVID-19 requiring hospitalization, up nine from the day before.
A total of 45 counties — more than half of Minnesota’s counties — have at least one confirmed case of the disease caused by the coronavirus. Cottonwood, Douglas, Isanti and Otter Tail counties were added to the list for the first time Sunday. Hennepin County is still the state’s hardest-hit county, with 171 confirmed cases, an increase of 19 confirmed cases from the day before.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.
Minnesota was in the second full day of a statewide “stay-at-home” order on Sunday. Gov. Tim Walz issued a general stay-at-home order for all noncritical workers statewide that took effect at 11:59 p.m. on Friday as a way to limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Iowa officials confirm 38 new COVID-19 cases

DES MOINES (AP) — Iowa health officials said Sunday that they have confirmed 38 more cases of COVID-19 and a fourth death.
The Iowa Department of Public Health said the state now has 336 positive cases, up from 298 on Saturday. The latest death was a Linn County resident between the ages of 61 and 80.
The new cases include 10 in Polk County, six in Linn County and four each in Johnson and Dubuque counties. The virus has now been found in 50 of Iowa’s 99 counties.
The new cases include nine people who range in age from 18 to 40; 14 who are 41-60 years old; 14 who are older than 60; and one child younger than 18.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has ordered bars, dine-in restaurants, theaters, casinos and businesses that sell furniture, books and clothing to remain closed until at least April 7 to help limit the virus’ spread.

Storms, tornadoes strike Midwest, South

Associated Press
Strong storms that brought tornadoes, high winds, hail and rain to parts of the Midwest and South caused extensive damage in some areas but no deaths, officials said Sunday.
Tornadoes were spotted in Arkansas, Illinois and Iowa as thunderstorms swept through the area Saturday. High winds and a possible tornado were also reported in Indiana.
The National Weather Service said it was still assessing damage and determining the strength of the tornadoes. Among the places that were hit was a mall in Jonesboro, Arkansas, and an apartment building in the northeastern Iowa community of Oelwein.
In Jonesboro, most stores at The Mall at Turtle Creek were closed because of coronavirus concerns, which helped to minimize the number of injuries from the tornado.
“There are 18 injuries in this event (Saturday) and two were admitted to the hospital. No fatalities, thank God,” Craighead County Judge Marvin Day said Sunday.
Day did not provide the condition of the two hospitalized, but said the injuries were not life-threatening.
“The rescue effort is complete and we have started cleanup and recovery,” said Day, the county’s top executive officer.
The Jonesboro Municipal Airport and a Busch Agricultural Resources rice mill also suffered heavy damage when the tornado struck about 5 p.m. Day said.
The tornado also derailed a Union Pacific train.
Railroad spokeswoman Amanda Treiber said that about 112 cars derailed, releasing an undisclosed flammable liquid and paint that Union Pacific said was not hazardous. Trieber said the train crew was not injured. Workers cleaned the site and train operations resumed about 9 a.m. Sunday.
An area from the mall eastward beyond the airport was closed. A curfew was in effect for the community, Day said. Jonesboro, located about 70 miles northwest of Memphis, Tennessee, has a population of about 75,000.
In Oelwein, Iowa, a tornado tore off part of the wall of a 12-unit apartment building and damaged the siding of a second building in the complex. Police said no serious injuries were reported.
Apartment resident Jonathan Reinert said the storm damage left him without a place to stay during the coronavirus outbreak.
“I got no shelter in place now,” Reinert told the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier.
Oelwein is a city of about 6,000 residents that’s about 140 miles northeast of the state capital of Des Moines.
In northern Illinois, a tornado that touched down in rural Ogle County near the town of Oregon was on the ground for roughly 10 minutes, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Gino Izzi. No injuries were reported.
High winds and a possible tornado damaged homes in the southwestern Indiana town of Newburgh. One person was hospitalized for minor injuries, according to Warrick County Sheriff Mike Wilder.

North Dakota governor requests COVID-19 disaster declaration

BISMARCK (AP) — Gov. Doug Burgum said Sunday he has requested a major presidential disaster declaration as the number of coronavirus cases in North Dakota approaches 100.
As of Sunday, the state reports 98 positive cases from state and private labs, up from 94 the previous day. One death from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, has been reported in North Dakota.
A disaster declaration by President Donald Trump would unlock federal aid to help North Dakota pay for its response to the pandemic, The Bismarck Tribune reported.
“Federal assistance is critical for our capability to expand North Dakota’s response to the rapidly evolving impacts of COVID-19,” Burgum said in the request dated Friday.
The request includes state modeling showing how widely the new virus could infect North Dakotans. Burgum wrote that 152,000 people could become infected over an 18-month period, including 22,000 who would require 14-day hospitalizations.
For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.
Burgum wrote that if projections hold true, North Dakota’s existing health care facilities “will rapidly exhaust capacity.” He said that the state would need to establish makeshift care facilities.

Students serve up cappuccinos, mochas at school coffee shop

MANDAN (AP) — A minute after the bell rang at 9:05 a.m. on a recent Friday, a line had formed by the main entrance to Mandan High School.
One by one, students approached some of their peers, placing orders for hot chocolate, mochas and caramel macchiatos, to name a few of the drinks offered twice a month at the Braves Bean Coffee Shop.
The shop is run by students in the school’s work experience class, including sophomore Mckenzie Meuchel, who typically serves up Irish cream-flavored cappuccinos. The drinks, so far, have been a hit with students walking between classes.
“It seems like it,” she said. “It’s been popular with more students than staff at this point.”
About 13 students man the coffee shop through the work experience class, which is part of the school’s special education curriculum. The kids spend part of the school day working in the community at restaurants, gas stations, the library and other places, The Bismarck Tribune reported.
“It helps our students who are in special education work on their money skills, their social skills and their work skills,” teacher Becca Voorhees said.
The coffee shop started up in January. The students have been running it every other Friday from 9-10:30 a.m., but it’s in limbo now due to the statewide school closure ordered by North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Customers line up in front of the cash register, mulling over the menu and pulling out their wallets. The student workers relay their orders to classmates working behind the counter, who find the appropriate cups filled with hot chocolate mix or creamers and add either hot water or coffee to finish making the drink.
When each cup is ready to go, senior Brennan Davis calls out the name of the student who ordered the drink, hands it over, and tells the student to “have a nice day.”
“I love it,” he said. “I get to interact with other people I might not know around the school.”
As he took a break from his duties on a recent Friday, he said he would go to math class when the shop closed, then head to lunch. He planned to spend the afternoon at Mandan’s Pizza Ranch, where he buses tables, puts away dishes and folds boxes that store food during deliveries.
He sometimes works alongside a former work experience student who has held a job at the restaurant for six years. It’s a good environment in which to work, Davis said.
“If you have a question, they will help you out,” he said.
When the school year ends, Davis hopes to go to college, then a police academy.
Until then, he’ll continue handing out drinks at the high school. After spring break, the students plan to add iced coffee to the menu as the weather warms up.
The class purchases supplies online and through Sam’s Club, Voorhees said. The shop puts the money it makes back into purchasing more items for the next time it opens.
Eventually, Voorhees would like to include other students at the school in helping to run the coffee shop alongside those in her class.
“We see us doing it next year and having different equipment, carts, making it more of a coffee shop feel,” she said.

Minnesota Vikings re-sign veteran guard Dozier

EAGAN, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota Vikings have signed veteran guard Dakota Dozier.
The team announced the re-signing of the Furman product, who played in 16 games last season with a career-high four starts. He originally joined Minnesota as a free agent last April 4.
Dozier was drafted by the New York Jets in the fourth round (137th overall) of the 2014 NFL draft. He has appeared in 54 career games with 11 starts.

NCAA’s greatest hits: Austin Carr’s record 61 points in 1970

By Eric Olson
AP Sports Writer

Austin Carr played for Notre Dame in an era when prolific scorers dominated college basketball.
LSU’s Pete Maravich was scoring 40 a night and still No. 1 on the points list. Niagara’s Calvin Murphy, Purdue’s Rick Mount and St. Bonaventure’s Bob Lanier, along with Carr, were others putting up eye-popping numbers.
It wasn’t until Carr scored a still-standing NCAA Tournament-record 61 points against Ohio in the first round in 1970 that, in his mind, he started to separate himself.
“At the time it gave me a different status in the basketball world,” he told The Associated Press this week. “It gave me an opportunity to be put on the radar, to be in the top three or four players in the draft. A whole lot of things happened because of that.”
Carr averaged 34.6 points over 74 college games, a figure that still ranks No. 2 behind Maravich’s 44.4. In the 1971 NBA draft, Carr was taken No. 1 overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Carr played nine of his 11 pro seasons with the Cavs and averaged better than 15 points a game, a figure that would have been higher had it not been for injuries. Now 72, he’s the team’s television analyst and director of community and business development.
Carr said he didn’t expect his single-game tournament scoring record to last so long. At the same time, he laments the magnitude of the accomplishment has faded over 50 years, perhaps because he never made it past a regional semifinal when he played for the Irish.
“It’s there but it doesn’t really ring a lot of bells until this time of year because people don’t talk about it,” he said. “Recently, I’m starting to hear more about it as a record that might not be broken. So that’s starting to travel around. But the one thing about this generation, we don’t really worry too much about the past. They’re more about the future. I’ve just resigned myself to that.”
Notre Dame, like most teams back then, relied heavily on one or two players to carry the scoring load. Carr was comfortable shooting from anywhere on the floor, and point guard Jack Meehan was adept at feeding him the ball.
Carr’s 61-point game really wasn’t out of character. He averaged 41.3 points over seven NCAA games from 1968-71, including games of 52, 52, 47 and 45 points.
Film of the game against Ohio showed nine of his baskets came from behind what would have been today’s 3-point arc, meaning he would have scored 70 in this era.
The game in Dayton, Ohio, didn’t begin well for Carr. Ohio’s John Canine, the man he was assigned to guard, made his first six shots. Assistant coach Gene Sullivan approached Carr on the bench and said, “Are you going to play defense tonight or let this guy kill you?”
That moment changed the game. Canine cooled off and Carr went on a tear. The junior shooting guard was 25 of 44 from the field and 11 of 14 from the line, and the Irish won 112-82.
During Carr’s career, Notre Dame made three straight NCAA Tournament appearances for the first time in school history.
“It helped put a football school on the basketball map, and that’s what I really enjoyed about that whole time at Notre Dame,” Carr said. “To give it some type of a basketball reputation, I was really proud of that.”
Manning orchestrated one of the biggest championship game upsets with his 31 points, 18 rebounds and five steals in an 83-79 win over Oklahoma.
This was not a vintage Jayhawks team. It was a No. 6 seed and, with the exception of Manning, was devoid of name players. The Big Eight-champion Sooners averaged 103 points a game, had already beaten Kansas twice and were eight-point favorites. The Jayhawks weren’t intimidated.
“Every time we stepped on the court we felt like we were going to win,” Manning, now the Wake Forest coach, said this week. “It didn’t matter who we were playing. That was just our mindset.”
After playing at OU’s up-tempo pace into the second half, coach Larry Brown had his Jayhawks slow things down for the last 12 minutes. OU got out of sorts, and Manning made four free throws in the last 14 seconds to secure the win.
The team known as “Danny and the Miracles” remains one of the great underdog stories in tournament history, though Manning has never been comfortable with the nickname.
“Not at all,” he said. “Basketball is a team sport. My teammates did so many things to help me on the court, to make the game easier for me — whether it was getting me open, getting the ball to me in the right spots, defensively being ready to rotate over and help. It was definitely a team victory without question.”
Russell turned in one of the most dominant performances in college basketball history in the championship game against Iowa. Officially, he had 26 points and a still-Final Four-record 27 rebounds in the 83-71 win. Media reports also credited him with between 12 and 20 blocks.
The 83-71 victory gave the Dons their second straight national title and extended their winning streak to 55 games.
The “Big O” was the king of the triple-double, and you need to look no further than the NCAA Tournament record book for proof. The triple-double was an “unofficial” statistic until the 1980s, but many box scores before that included categories such as assists, blocks and steals.
Four of the top five tournament triple-doubles pre-1986 belong to Robertson, none more impressive than his 39 points, 17 rebounds and 10 assists against Louisville in the 1959 third-place game. The year before he scored 56 points against Arkansas. His 32.4-point average over 10 tournament games ranks third all-time.
The Bruins won a seventh straight national title behind Walton’s 44 points against Memphis State — still the most in a championship game. Walton made 21 of 22 shots from the field, and that didn’t include four baskets that didn’t count because of the era’s no-dunking rule. The 87-66 victory was UCLA’s 75th win in a row.
No NCAA Tournament is complete without revisiting Christian Laettner catching that long inbounds pass, turning, dribbling once and swishing his shot from just behind the free-throw line to beat Kentucky in overtime and send Duke to the Final Four.
It was a fitting end to a 31-point performance in which Laettner made all 10 of his shots from the field and all 10 of his free throws. He was relatively quiet in the national semifinal against Indiana before scoring a team-high 19 in a 71-51 win over Michigan in the title game.

Minnesota gymnast Sunisa Lee’s Olympic quest delayed a year

By Nancy Yang
Minnesota Public Radio News

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — For the last 10 years, almost everything Sunisa Lee has done has been in the name of 2020.
Spending up to eight hours a day at the gym.
Taking classes online so that she has the flexibility to spend long hours at the gym.
Giving up family vacations and a social life.
For the last decade, the St. Paul gymnast has been chasing a dream that comes into being just once every four years — except now, she’ll have to wait one more year.
Lee is trying to make the U.S. women’s Olympic gymnastics team. She wants to go to Tokyo and win gold.
She had planned to do it this summer, but the COVID-19 pandemic changed all that. Organizers this week postponed the games until 2021.
“I’m disappointed,” Lee told Minnesota Public Radio News of the decision, though she agrees it was for the best.
But while the timeline changes, the goal does not.
Lee wants to make the Olympic team not only for herself, but also for her dad. John Lee has been her biggest supporter since Day 1.
“This dream has been me and my dad’s for the longest time,” she said.
It would be especially meaningful now, considering John Lee suffered a paralyzing injury last summer, just before Sunisa Lee was to leave for nationals. She almost skipped it to be with her dad.
But she didn’t — and ended up showing the world her fortitude and talent. She placed second behind Simone Biles at nationals in August, and was part of the world championship-winning team in October. There, she won an individual silver on floor and a bronze on uneven bars.
But for all that, her path to the games is not assured — nor will it be easy. It never was, given the depth in U.S. gymnastics right now. But it’s further complicated by the fact that the American squad will comprise just four females — down from five at the 2016 games — though the United States could earn the ability to send two more gymnasts to compete in the individual events, separate from the team.
She’s one of two Minnesotans in contention for the team — her friend Grace McCallum of Isanti is the other. If either of them make the cut, they would be the first Minnesotans on the women’s team in more than three decades.
And then there’s this: Lee would also make history as the first Hmong American to represent the United States at an Olympic games.
For Lee, the pressure is on — but it can also be overwhelming at times, especially when you consider that she’s only 17. So much of the world is already focused on her.
“I’m just nervous that if I don’t make the team, people are going to hate on me,” she said. Of people making negative comments on social media, Lee said: “It’s very bad for my mental health.”
‘Nobody sees the hard work’
In person, Lee is shy and reserved. But get her around close friends and family, and she’ll indulge in some silliness, like funny selfies or teasing her coaches’ tastes in music — sometimes even going ahead and changing the tunes at the gym on her own. Still, she prefers to keep a low profile — so much so that she avoids eating lunch in the school cafeteria. Instead, she usually takes meals with one of her teachers at South St. Paul High School, who also happens to coach at Midwest Gymnastics in Little Canada where she trains.
But one thing Lee isn’t shy about sharing are the latest skills she’s working on in the gym. She frequently posts clips to Instagram or Twitter of her tumbling passes on floor and beam, and of her defying gravity on bars.
Lately, she’s been giving fans a few glimpses of a new release skill on bars she’s hoping to perform at the Olympics. If she nails it there, the move could be named the Lee. It involves doing one of the most difficult release moves — where she lets go of the high bar — but adds a half turn.
Fans have mostly been supportive online, cheering her on and offering words of encouragement. “You’re really coming for that bars Olympic gold medal and I’m so here for it,” says one person on Twitter. Another says “Queen! Incredible as always” followed by the heart emoji.
Still, this is social media, where critics seize on the smallest of mistakes, pointing out flaws, even writing off the difficulty of her moves. Lee makes everything look so effortless that people forget she’s doing things most people will never be able to do.
“Especially if we have a bad routine and we get hate on it or negative comments, it’s just: Why do you gotta do that?” Lee wondered. “We spend every single day in the gym, nobody sees the hard work that goes in and it’s just one little mishap that happens in the competition, but that doesn’t mean that we’re not working hard.”
Still, some good comes out of those nasty comments.
“I used to get really upset about it,” she said. “But now I get upset about it and go into the gym and work even harder and to prove to them that I can.”
A roller coaster of a year
Last year, Lee showed the haters what she’s capable of. In her first year on the senior circuit, she finished second at nationals and went on to win gold, silver and bronze medals at the world championships in Stuttgart, Germany.
She did it while recovering from a stress fracture in her ankle — and while her father recovered from a traumatic spinal injury.
In August, the day before she was to leave for nationals in Kansas City, Missouri, John Lee fell while helping a friend trim tree branches. He broke his ribs and injured his spinal cord, becoming paralyzed from the chest down.
Even though she knew her appearance was crucial to building momentum toward the Olympics, Sunisa Lee debated whether to skip nationals to be with her dad. Out of her entire family, it’s been her father who has shared her Olympic aspirations, serving as her biggest cheerleader.
“There was a point where I was thinking to not go because I have next year,” she said.
But go she did, though “my head was everywhere and I was a mess,” Lee said.
During the two days of competition, she rallied. Lee ended up in second place behind Biles, the five-time Olympic medalist. She also won the uneven bars title and took bronze in floor.
“I ended up pulling myself together and switching gears and competing for my dad,” she said.
He was watching from the hospital when she went on to win a world team title in Stuttgart, Germany, in October. He went home in time to see her compete in the all-around competition days later.
John Lee recently finished physical therapy at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center, where he’s been working on gaining more independence. He — along with the rest of her family — have made plans to be there in Tokyo when Sunisa wins her gold medal.
“If I could get up, I’ll do a back flip,” John Lee said of how he’ll celebrate.
One more year
The decision to postpone the 2020 Games wasn’t totally unexpected. Sunisa Lee had been preparing for the possibility since earlier this month, when a major competition she was supposed to compete in was canceled.
But she said the news was met with a mixture of sadness and relief. Sadness, because it’s a big ask of elite athletes to wait one more year; the training they do day in and out can be brutal. Relief because at least now they know what will happen. For weeks, organizers had been hesitant to delay the games, despite increasing pushback.
Lee is trying to look on the bright side, though.
“Now I’ve got one more year to improve,” she said.

Hawaii telescope protesters leave camp due to virus concerns

HONOLULU (AP) — Opponents of the Thirty Meter Telescope project on the Big Island have pulled out of their camp due to concerns over the spread of the coronavirus.

The move came after more than eight months of nonviolent protests at the base of the Mauna Kea Access Road, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Thursday.

Construction of one of the world’s largest telescopes on Hawaii’s tallest mountain, Mauna Kea, has been stalled by project opponents who say the telescope will desecrate land considered sacred by some Native Hawaiians.

The large tents erected last year as a warehouse, kitchen and instructional area were removed and protest supporters were asked to leave, protest leader Andre Perez said Wednesday.

“Because of the concern for human health and safety, we’ve decided to leave,” Perez said. “We feel that there’s no imminent threat from TMT, that’s our assessment, and so human health and safety is paramount for us.”

Protesters posted videos on social media saying medical professionals advised them to reduce travel and “stay in our bubbles and remain home” until the coronavirus threat passes.

Protesters have successfully blocked the access road for more than five months. Law enforcement officials arrested 39 protesters on July 17 for obstructing the road during nonviolent demonstrations but never made another attempt to clear the road.

Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim pledged in December there would be no police effort to remove protesters from the mountain and convinced telescope opponents to move tents and other equipment off the road.

Construction has not advanced since then because protesters continued to camp near the road and hold demonstrations.

Perez does not expect the departure of protesters will prompt officials to restart the project in the near future, although no promises were made.

“We have not gotten any pledges or any confirmation or agreement with them at all,” Perez said.

He added: “We’re confident that they’re not going to move with TMT during this time of pandemic crisis.”