1. These states have COVID-19 travel restrictions against North Dakotans

At the epicenter of the nation's COVID-19 outbreak, the virus complicates nearly every aspect of life — including travel.

Public health experts have strongly advised Americans to refrain from holiday gatherings with members of multiple households, saying a bump in COVID-19 cases resulting from Thanksgiving dinners could overwhelm hospitals across the country. Still, more than 3 million air travelers passed through TSA security checkpoints from Friday, Nov. 20, to Sunday, Nov. 22 — the most of any three-day period during the pandemic.

But with COVID-19 infection rates rising, some states have put in place mandatory quarantine periods and testing requirements for travelers deemed "high-risk." North Dakotans, South Dakotans and Minnesotans fall in this category for most states that have implemented restrictions due to the high degree of community spread in the upper Midwest.

Read more from Forum News Service's Jeremy Turley

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2. Minnesota prepares to roll out first rounds of COVID-19 vaccines

FILE PHOTO: Vials with a sticker reading, "COVID-19 / Coronavirus vaccine / Injection only" and a medical syringe are seen in front of a displayed Pfizer logo in this illustration taken October 31, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Vials with a sticker reading, "COVID-19 / Coronavirus vaccine / Injection only" and a medical syringe are seen in front of a displayed Pfizer logo in this illustration taken October 31, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo

From Minnesota Public Radio via Forum News Service

On the day he announced that Minnesota would soon enter into a month of new restrictions meant to curb the spread of COVID-19, Gov. Tim Walz ended his speech on a promising note.

“We’ve got a light at the end of the tunnel,” he said. “I believe with every fiber of my being that there’s an incredibly strong possibility — more like a probability — that we will be vaccinating people before the end of this four-week pause in our long-term care facilities and our health care providers.”

There are reasons to be hopeful: After months of waiting, two coronavirus vaccines are poised to hit the market. The companies that make both — Pfizer and Moderna — say the vaccines are safe and very effective. Pfizer, which is developing the vaccine that’s furthest along, has applied to the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization to distribute the drug.

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3. Lawmakers agree Minnesotans need relief in latest COVID wave, but not over how and when

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz spoke to Minnesotans Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020, from the Governor’s Reception room at the State Capitol, to discuss the latest steps in his response to COVID-19. Pool photo / Glen Stubbe / Star Tribune
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz spoke to Minnesotans Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2020, from the Governor’s Reception room at the State Capitol, to discuss the latest steps in his response to COVID-19. Pool photo / Glen Stubbe / Star Tribune

As the state braces for the worst of the third and most severe wave of coronavirus infections and resulting economic fallout, lawmakers agree that Minnesotans need help — but they aren't yet on the same page about how and when it's distributed.

Gov. Tim Walz on Monday, Nov. 23, told reporters that he and legislative leaders were set to announce emergency relief measures for businesses and residents as soon as the next day. Walz went on to say he was prepared to call legislators back into a special session "immediately" to pass the agreed-upon measure because "the sooner the better."

Read more from Forum News Service's Dana Ferguson & Sarah Mearhoff

4. Moorhead Public Service, City Council detail utility rate plans for 2021

Travis Schmidt stands Wednesday, May 27, outside Moorhead's water treatment plant.
Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Travis Schmidt stands Wednesday, May 27, outside Moorhead's water treatment plant. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

Electric rates in Moorhead could be flat for the next three years, while newly selected Moorhead Public Service General Manager Travis Schmidt said water rates will increase, but only about half as much as expected.

Schmidt presented the rate information and the MPS budget to the City Council Monday night, Nov. 23, for their review.

MPS sends out bills for its services as well as for the city, which has separate operations for wastewater and garbage. Both of the city's utilities have planned increases next year.

Read more from The Forum's Barry Amundson

5. Abbiamo Pasta property tax break approved by Cass County Commission

Abbiamo Pasta Co. received approval Monday, Nov. 16, from the Cass County Board of Commissioners for a tax break for a major addition to the firm's Casselton, N.D., plant. Pictured are a couple pasta shapes similar to what the plant produces. (Helmut Schmidt / The Forum)
Abbiamo Pasta Co. received approval Monday, Nov. 16, from the Cass County Board of Commissioners for a tax break for a major addition to the firm's Casselton, N.D., plant. Pictured are a couple pasta shapes similar to what the plant produces. (Helmut Schmidt / The Forum)

A 10-year property tax break for an expansion that will double the size of a Casselton pasta plant was unanimously approved by the Cass County Commission on Monday, Nov. 16.

The expansion at Abbiamo Pasta Co., 1900 Governors Drive, includes a 93,000-square-foot steel building worth about $5.2 million. It is being built on land valued at $125,000, according to the payment in lieu of taxes application.

The company also anticipates installing $4.5 million in machinery (robots, packaging equipment, silos and a pasta line), the PILOT application said.

Read more from The Forum's Helmut Schmidt