1. Cass County COVID-19 positive rate falls sharply, but officials urge continued 'coronavirus etiquette'

The rate of positive tests for coronavirus infection in Cass County once was more than three times the state rate, but has fallen sharply and now modestly exceeds the state rate.

At the outset of the coronavirus pandemic in March, Cass County's positive rate among those tested for the virus was 9.6%, compared to the statewide rate of 2.8%, said Tammy Miller, Gov. Doug Burgum's chief of operations.

Cass County's most recent 14-day rolling average was a 2.54% positive rate, compared to 1.8% for the state overall, Miller told fellow members of the Red River Valley COVID-19 Task Force during a briefing on Wednesday, July 15.

Read more from The Forum's Patrick Springer

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2. Fargo parents favor in-person classes, but staff have different views, survey finds

A teacher passes out papers during a class at Fargo North High School in December 2019. Forum file photo
A teacher passes out papers during a class at Fargo North High School in December 2019. Forum file photo

A Fargo Public Schools survey shows that parents want students to return to classrooms this fall, while staff prefer a hybrid of in-person and virtual learning.

Of 7,600 parents surveyed, 49% said they would like their children to attend in-person classes full-time for the 2020-2021 school year, according to the survey results released Wednesday, July 15. About 33% of parents preferred a hybrid approach, and only 18% of parents favored all virtual instruction.

Of 1,900 staff surveyed, 44.9% preferred a hybrid of in-person and virtual learning to minimize the number of students in school. And 28.5% of staff preferred returning to in-person classes, and 26.6% preferred an all virtual approach.

During a Tuesday school board meeting, Superintendent Rupak Gandhi described the survey as just a starting point and said that staff input sessions were to begin Wednesday to start working toward formulating a restart plan for the district. What that plan will look like remains unclear.

Read more from The Forum's C.S. Hagen

3. Report: No evidence Fargo officers racially profiled, illegally detained black man

Larry Pope speaks during a OneFargo press conference Tuesday, July 7, in Island Park, Fargo, where he described being subjected to an undocumented illegal search and seizure by Fargo police on June 24. His parents are standing behind him and well as leaders in the OneFargo organization. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Larry Pope speaks during a OneFargo press conference Tuesday, July 7, in Island Park, Fargo, where he described being subjected to an undocumented illegal search and seizure by Fargo police on June 24. His parents are standing behind him and well as leaders in the OneFargo organization. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

North Dakota officials have announced guidelines for reopening K-12 schools this fall.

Instruction may be face-to-face, virtual or a hybrid of the two depending on decisions made by local school boards and COVID-19 conditions in each district, Gov. Doug Burgum said at a press conference on Tuesday, July 14.

Burgum and State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler said school boards and administrators will need to consult with their local communities to create individualized health and safety plans and revamped distance learning plans. Those plans must be approved by local school boards, but not state officials.

The guidelines released Tuesday are largely based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In May the recommendations were 20 pages long, but now they have shrunk to seven.

Read more from The Forum's April Baumgarten

4. Fargo broke the law by redacting police chief's email, North Dakota attorney general says

Fargo Police Chief David Todd speaks June 17, along with Mayor Tim Mahoney, about recent conflicts between the city and community organizers.  Forum file photo
Fargo Police Chief David Todd speaks June 17, along with Mayor Tim Mahoney, about recent conflicts between the city and community organizers. Forum file photo

The city of Fargo improperly redacted an email in which Police Chief David Todd criticized leaking information about an ex-deputy chief going undercover without permission, according to an opinion issued Wednesday, July 15, by North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem.

The opinion ruled in favor of Say Anything Blog founder and Forum Communications Co. columnist Rob Port, who broke several stories about former Deputy Chief Todd Osmundson performing unauthorized undercover work during the May 30 protest and riot in Fargo. Osmundson apologized and later resigned.

Port requested an email from the city in which Chief Todd wrote that leaking the information was "inexcusable and sickening."

Several paragraphs were redacted from the email, with the city citing state law as its reason for blacking out information that “could contain intelligence information, law enforcement techniques or security procedures.”

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5. As Walmart announces face mask requirement, here's a roundup of what local, big box stores are doing

Darlene Clark and Thea Larson, of Detroit Lakes, voluntarily wore face masks while shopping at the Dilworth Walmart in May. But now Walmart is requiring face-coverings for customers at all U.S. stores. Forum file photo
Darlene Clark and Thea Larson, of Detroit Lakes, voluntarily wore face masks while shopping at the Dilworth Walmart in May. But now Walmart is requiring face-coverings for customers at all U.S. stores. Forum file photo

Starting next week, shoppers will be required to wear a face mask when inside Walmart. The nation’s largest retail chain announced that the face mask requirement will go into effect on July 20 at all U.S. Walmart and Sam’s Club locations.

On its website, Walmart noted that about 65% of its more than 5,000 stores and clubs are located in areas where there is some form of government mandate on face coverings.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have not issued a federal mandate on mask wearing, it has said everyone, “should wear a cloth face cover when they have to go out in public,” and that “face coverings are meant to protect other people.”

Many retailers have struggled with whether to require or recommend face coverings, in part because some customers have vehemently objected to it infringing on their freedom.

Read more from The Forum's Tracy Briggs