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5 things to know today: Staff shortage, Emergency powers, Trump rally, Provost pick, Friends reunited

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North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum speaks at a news conference about COVID-19 on Thursday, Oct. 1, as two cellphones livestream the event. Lindsey Solberg Herbel (left) interprets Burgum's words into American Sign Language. (Jeremy Turley / Forum News Service)

1. With North Dakota hospitals at 100% capacity, Burgum announces COVID-positive nurses can stay at work

North Dakota's hospitals have reached their limit, and the coming weeks could push them past their capabilities, Gov. Doug Burgum said at a news conference on Monday, Nov. 9.

Due to a major shortage of health care staffing, the state's hospitals have a severe lack of available beds. Rising COVID-19 hospitalizations and high noncoronavirus admissions, some resulting from residents who deferred health care earlier in the pandemic, have caused the crunch on medical centers.

Burgum said hospitals are implementing their "surge" plans, and some will be voluntarily stopping elective surgeries to free up staff. He added that the state will coordinate with hospitals to move nurses to medical centers in most dire need of staff.

Read more from Forum News Service's Jeremy Turley

2. Walz again looks to keep emergency powers as COVID-19 cases climb

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Governor Walz visits the Tom Cotter Farm west of Austin discussing ag business and COVID-19 impacts on farming Monday, October 19, 2020. With Walz and Cotter are Minnesota agriculture commissioner Thom Petersen, and Rep Jeanne Poppe. (Ken Klotzbach@postbulletin.com)

Gov. Tim Walz on Monday, Nov. 9, announced that he will again extend the state's peacetime emergency to combat the coronavirus as the illness continues to spread and exact its toll on the state.

The Democratic-Farmer-Labor governor said that he planned another 30-extension of the emergency and, along with that, an extension of his emergency powers, to combat COVID-19. Lawmakers are set to return to the Capitol Thursday, Nov. 12, for a special session to consider the extension.

Both chambers of the Legislature would have to approve resolutions blocking the extension to keep it from taking effect. In each of five prior special sessions, the Republican-controlled Senate voted to prevent an extension while Democrats — who control the House of Representatives — kept the resolution from coming up for a vote there.

Read more from Forum News Service's Dana Ferguson

3. Brawl at pro-Trump rally in Bismarck under investigation; no arrests so far

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A fight between Black Lives Matter protesters and Trump supporters broke out at a rally in Bismarck on Saturday, Nov. 7. Nobody was seriously injured, but several men suffered minor cuts and bloody noses. Kyle Martin / Forum News Service

No arrests have been made after a fight erupted Saturday, Nov. 7, on the grounds of the North Dakota Capitol in Bismarck, where multiple people received minor injuries during a pro-Trump demonstration.

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The North Dakota Highway Patrol, which provides security for events on Capitol grounds, said Monday, Nov. 9, that officers were still investigating the fight and gathering information about it. Specifically, investigators are looking for videos that document what occurred, as there will likely be conflicting viewpoints on what exactly happened, said Sgt. Tim Coughlin, director of North Dakota Capitol security.

A fight between Black Lives Matter protesters and President Donald Trump supporters began Saturday after tensions rose at the rally attended by more than 300 people, most of them gathered in support of the president and his claims — lodged so far without proof — of large-scale voter fraud in Pennsylvania and other states that went to Joe Biden.

Read more from The Forum's Michelle Griffith

4. Most NDSU professors who took survey uncomfortable with how president picked provost

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North Dakota State University. David Samson / The Forum

A majority of North Dakota State University professors who took a survey on the provost search process said they were uncomfortable President Dean Bresciani chose a candidate who did not apply for the position.

Almost two-thirds of 213 participants who took the Faculty Senate survey said they were somewhat or very uncomfortable with the process Bresciani used to pick Margaret Fitzgerald , who previously served as the interim provost before taking the long-term job. Nearly half said they were very uncomfortable.

Fitzgerald, who did not apply for the position and signaled she didn't want it on a more permanent basis, was chosen over five finalists. That included one who was chosen as the top pick but wasn't available until the summer.

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Read more from The Forum's April Baumgarten

5. After 5 decades of searching, these Vietnam War-era buddies reunited with a reporter's help

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Gary Kopperud holds a pack of Lucky Strike cigarettes he saved as a memento of the time he spent with his friend Robert D. “Homer” Holm. Kopperud searched for Holm, a Vietnam War vet, for more than 50 years. Special to The Forum

For more than 50 years, Gary Kopperud has kept a memento of what was once a long lost friend, an opened pack of Lucky Strikes, tucked away with other treasures in a metal cabinet. The final four cigarettes reminded him of the last time he saw Robert D. “Homer” Holm after a road trip across North Dakota in a car with a top speed of 30 mph.

“The Model A was finished and we just decided to take a road trip without a road map or a destination in mind. Some roads were gravel, some were paved. We stayed in an old hotel that was 50 cents a night on Highway 81 north of Grand Forks. We had a thermos of coffee and a few packs of Lucky Strikes,” Kopperud said.

As the trip came to a close, they sipped their coffee, smoked a Lucky, and pledged they would join the Marine Corps together under the buddy system and head to war in Vietnam.

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

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