--On Wednesday Governor Walz announced COVID-19 is spreading more slowly across Minnesota than two months ago. Recognizing our progress – but understanding we need to remain cautious – the Governor is adjusting the dials and opening more activities and sectors of the economy. Starting this coming Monday, January 11th: Indoor dining at bars and restaurants can open at 50 percent capacity, with a maximum of 150 people. Parties of no more than six people must remain six feet from other parties; bar seating is open to parties of two; reservations are required; and establishments must close dine-in service by 10:00pm. Gym capacity remains capped at 25 percent but maximum capacity increases to 150 and classes can increase to 25 people, assuming distancing can be observed. Machines and people must maintain 9 feet of distance. Face coverings are required. Outdoor events and entertainment continue at 25 percent capacity, but maximum capacity increases to 250 people. Social distancing is required. Indoor events and entertainment – like bowling alleys, movie theaters, and museums – may open at 25 percent, with no more than 150 people in each area of the venue. Face coverings are required, and they may not offer food service after 10:00pm. Youth and adult organized sports have resumed practice as of January 4 and games resume January 14 with spectators, following the appropriate capacity limits for indoor or outdoor venues. Inter-region tournaments and out of state play are discouraged. Pools opened on January 4 for some activity and may now open, like gyms, at 25 percent capacity. Wedding receptions and other private parties may resume with limits. If food and drink are served at the event, then they are limited to two households or 10 people indoors and 3 households or 15 people outdoors. If there is no food or drink, they are covered by event venue guidelines. Any related ceremony – like a wedding or funeral ceremony – is guided by rules for ceremonies and places of worship. Places of worship remain open at 50% capacity but without an overall maximum capacity.
--Pierz Schools Superintendent George Weber stated Monday on Little Falls Radio that when the Governor announced last month that schools could not change their returning methods until January 18th the school district asked for an appeal and they were approved that they can go back to hybrid learning next Monday- January 11th that grades 5-12 will go to hybrid next week (Monday/Thursday and Tuesday/Friday with Wednesday full distance learning),and K-4 already are in class and will remain in class learning for those grades. Weber is unclear when all students will return everyday to in class learning the hope was before the end of this month but recently the Governor said that the process would be slower than that per grade for in class learning so that is still unknown. Weber was excited to see students back in practice Monday and games starting next Thursday, Weber said that for Pierz Schools right spectators are either not going to be allowed or have very limited seating because of the 6 feet distance between all players on the bleachers already during the games even though the MSHSL stated that a percentage of spectators can be at games but that does depend on each individual school They will be videotaping all the sporting events and listen to Little Falls Radio when games will be on the radio. Weber said they have had to add an extra bus route to help with the safety protocols and thanks all of those driving students too and from school at this time. Weber will be sending out more information in the days on the next steps to get students all back in school when they can.
--The Minnesota Department of Health Wednesday reported 2,346 new cases of COVID-19 and an increase to 67 new deaths linked to the virus. Morrison County had 19 new cases Wednesday. The Morrison County website showed 128 active cases on their report yesterday 63 of those were in Little Falls Zip Code, Royalton was at 16, Pierz at 15 and Swanville was at 9 cases on the report.
--Health officials say careless smoking was the leading cause of fatal fires in Minnesota in 2020. 53 people died in fires last year, a 13% increase over 2019. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety says seven deaths last year were attributed to careless smoking, the fifth consecutive year it led in fatal fires. The department says six victims died in fires that were attributed to gas leaks and five people died in cooking fires, the most since 2013. Health officials say 70% of the fire deaths involved people 50 and older.
--An Amber Alert was cancelled yesterday early evening after a woman and child were found safe from an apparent kidnapping in Minneapolis. The suspect in question was still at large last night.
--A Meeker County man is jailed after an altercation with utility workers at a cell tower site. Sheriff's deputies were dispatched to the 71200 block of 240th Street in Dassel Township just after 10:00 a.m. Tuesday. The caller said a man was threatening the workers as they were laying conduit. The man, identified as 67-year-old John Forsen, was allegedly using his Bobcat skid-steer to try to overturn the equipment the workers were using and threatened to overturn their work trucks. Deputies caught up with Forsen as he was returning to his home. He was arrested on suspicion of 2nd-degree assault, disorderly conduct, and DUI.
--Angry supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol Wednesday, marching through the building, shouting and waving Trump and American flags and forcing a halt to congressional deliberations over challenges to Joe Biden's Electoral College victory. Senators were evacuated. Demonstrators fought with Capitol Police and then forced their way into the building, not long after a huge rally near the White House during which Trump egged them on to march to Capitol Hill. The protests occurred after Vice-President Mike Pence stated he would not stop the process of the Electoral College making Joe Biden the next U.S. President. At least one woman was shot inside the U.S. Captiol, Congress reconvened last night to finish and early this morning declared Joe Biden the next U.S. President.
TODAY= fog early, then cloudy skies, high near 30.
TONIGHT= fog likely overnight, colder, low 14.
FRIDAY= partly sunny after morning fog, high 28, low 13.
SATURDAY= fog early, then sunny, high 25, low 15.
SUNDAY= cloudy skies, high near 30, low around 18.
COL BB= #10 Michigan beat #16 Gophers 82-57 in college basketball, after the Gophers moved from 21 to 16 in the AP Poll.
COL FB= Clemson Quarteback Trevor Lawrence officially entered the NFL Draft Wednesday and is expected to be the #1 pick which is now owned by the Jacksonville Jaguars later this year. Alabama Wide Receiver DeVonta Smith won the Heisman Trophy in a virtual ceremony earlier this week. Alabama takes on Ohio State Monday night for the College Football National Championship.