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5 things to know today: Rent struggles, Delta surge, Low testing, Letter grade, Border lawsuit

A select rundown of stories found on InForum.

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Sheala Hall outside one of her rental properties on Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021, in St. Charles. Hall and her family have 19 rental units, 10 of which are behind on rent. Traci Westcott / Post Bulletin

1. Rent struggles continue for Minnesota tenants, landlords

Sheala Hall’s family owns six rental properties in communities surrounding Rochester, and the aftermath of Minnesota’s eviction moratorium is taking a financial toll.

“Unfortunately, your mortgage payments, your insurance, your taxes don’t go away,” she said.

Of the family’s combined 19 rental units, 10 occupants are behind on rent payments, with six making partial payments in an effort to maintain their housing.

Read more from Forum News Service's Randy Peterson

2. North Dakota's rural hospitals struggle to find relief valves during COVID-19 delta surge

Billy Evenson, 86, sits on a hospital bed at West River Regional Medical Center on Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2021. Staff at the Hettinger, North Dakota, facility could not find a major hospital in the region that had room for Evenson when he took a turn for the worse. Jeremy Turley / Forum News Service

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Over the last two weeks, the staff at Hettinger’s West River Regional Medical Center have gotten used to hearing “no.”

The 25-bed hospital in the southwestern corner of North Dakota usually refers patients with acute conditions to the medical hub of Bismarck, but the capital city’s two main facilities have recently been too full to take on transfers, said Dr. Josh Ranum, an internal medicine specialist in Hettinger.

That means staff at the rural hospital have to spend hours calling five or more medical centers to arrange for patients to be flown almost 300 miles to Fargo or taken across state lines to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, or Billings, Montana.

Read more from Forum News Service's Jeremy Turley

3. COVID-19 hospitalizations continue to rise in North Dakota as state reports low-testing day

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A coronavirus graphic. Courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The latest surge, fueled by the highly contagious delta variant, has challenged hospitals that are already dealing with high non-coronavirus admissions and low staffing levels.

The following are the North Dakota Department of Health COVID-19 case rates, deaths, hospitalizations and vaccinations tracked by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as of Monday, Oct. 11. Because all data is preliminary, some numbers and totals may change from one day to the next.

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4. White Bear Lake middle school gets rid of ‘F’ grades. Parents raise concerns

The exterior of Sunrise Park Middle School in White Bear Lake, Minnesota, on Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021. The school is implementing a new grading system. (Emily Urfer / St. Paul Pioneer Press)

Under a new grading system at a White Bear Lake middle school, students no longer will be given an F grade — no matter how bad they did on an assignment or test or if it was turned in late or not at all.

Instead, the grading system that began last month at Sunrise Park Middle School will start out at 50%, with nothing below that for assignments, tests, quizzes and projects. School officials say the approach, which one teacher described as “equitable grading” and a districtwide initiative, is aimed at ensuring that grades accurately reflect how well the students know the material and take out behavioral factors.

Read more from The Forum's J.J. Perry

5. Honduran family in Minnesota files federal lawsuit alleging mistreatment by US at the border

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Kerlin Sanchez Villalobos, 18, and her 16-year-old sister Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021, in their Rochester home. The teenage girls have filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government for its treatment of them at the border in June 2019 when the girls came to the U.S. from Honduras seeking asylum. Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin

Kerlin Sanchez Villalobos and her younger sister left Honduras for what they believed would be a safer life in the U.S., but instead, the girls were greeted with inhumane treatment at the hands of the U.S. government, a new lawsuit alleges.

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“Once I got to the border and saw the border, I started crying. I was so emotional because I felt like this is it — everything that's happened, it's done, and now I am going to be OK.”

But what the then-16-year-old didn’t know was that shortly after they were released from the Customs and Border Protection Detention Center less than 30 miles outside of El Paso in Clint, Texas, the facility would make headlines for what the recently filed lawsuit calls “grotesque violations of children’s rights.”

Read more from Forum News Service's Emily Cutts

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