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5 things to know today: COVID capital, lessons from Canadian Thanksgiving, contract negotiations, COVID-positive health staff, Grand Forks legislative forum

Dave Van Lith passes out free meals at a community lunch outside All Saints Episcopal Church in downtown Minot, N.D. In response to the area's rising COVID-19 numbers, Van Lith and his colleagues have moved the weekly lunch outdoors. Kyle Martin / The Forum

1. How Minot became the COVID-19 capital of North Dakota

From his desk at Trinity Health in Minot, Dr. Casmiar Nwaigwe sat at the center of one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in the world.

Like most North Dakota cities, Minot passed through the spring and summer of the pandemic largely unconcerned about the virus that was tearing through distant and more densely populated regions of the country.

2. Can North Dakota learn from Canada's post-Thanksgiving rise in coronavirus cases?

Next week, families across the country will be gathering around the table on Thanksgiving. But this year’s holiday comes as the coronavirus pandemic rages, hitting the Upper Midwest and the Dakotas particularly hard.

Health officials across the country and regionally have been urging people to take caution when planning gatherings.

3. Crookston New Flyer of America workers hold rally ahead of contract talks

On the afternoon of Friday, Nov. 20, union workers at the New Flyer of America manufacturing facility in Crookston will stage a rally, ahead of upcoming contract negotiations.


Workers attending the rally are being asked to wear masks and stand in the parking lot and listen to union speakers, as their family members drive by and honk their car horns in support. Contracts for the roughly 225 union workers there will expire on Dec. 31, and negotiations will begin early that month.

4. Anger after North Dakota order allows COVID-positive health staff to stay on job

Nurse Leslie McKamey has gotten used to the 16-hour shifts, to skipping lunch, to the nightly ritual of throwing all her clothes in the laundry and showering as soon as she walks through the door to avoid potentially infecting her children. She’s even grown accustomed to triaging COVID patients, who often arrive at the emergency room so short of breath they struggle to describe their symptoms.

But despite the trauma and exhaustion of the past eight months, she was shocked when North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum said last week that health care workers who test positive for the coronavirus but do not display symptoms could still report to work.

5. Leaders from city, county and school outline needs during Grand Forks legislative forum

The North Dakota Legislature will be faced with a constrained state budget in the next session and public entities should focus on prioritizing their needs.

Those were themes that emerged from the 2020 Grand Forks Legislative Forum on Thursday, Nov. 19, as representatives of local public entities discussed priorities for the next legislative session, which begins in January.

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