Torey Van Oot
Updated Jan 14, 2022 - News

Minneapolis and St. Paul to require vaccine or test for indoor dining

Illustration of a fork, knife and syringe on a napkin.
Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

New vaccine-or-test requirements for indoor dining and drinking in Minneapolis and St. Paul take effect Wednesday.

The big picture: A growing number of major cities, including Boston, Chicago and New York, have instituted similar requirements in an effort to protect public health.

Yes, but: Questions about enforcement, logistics and effectiveness of the temporary measures here remain.

Nick Halter
Updated Jan 10, 2022 - News

Twin Cities schools struggle to staff classrooms as Omicron spreads

Illustration of a teacher's chalkboard with "Now Hiring" written across it.
Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

School districts across the Twin Cities are struggling to keep their classrooms staffed due to a teacher shortage that has been exacerbated by rising COVID infections.

Why it matters: Schools are getting creative to staff classrooms, upping pay for substitutes, using support staff as fill-ins and paying teachers to cover for their colleagues during prep periods.

Torey Van Oot
Jan 10, 2022 - COVID

Why Minnesota isn't tracking at-home rapid test results

box of covid rapid test
Photo: Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Minnesotans who test positive for COVID-19 via an at-home rapid test are not expected to share their results with local health officials — and there there's no where to report the case even if they tried.

The big picture: As America's record Omicron surge continues, cities and states across the country have no cohesive strategy to monitor the results of at-home rapid COVID tests, an Axios Local report found.

Why it matters: Our patchwork public ability to tally at-home tests means that the current COVID caseload is almost certainly a vast undercount — and that may be a reality we all have to accept at this stage of the pandemic.

Audrey Kennedy
Jan 6, 2022 - COVID

COVID-related closures hit Twin Cities restaurants, again

A sign saying "Sorry, we're closed" but the O has COVID-19 spikes.
Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

At least 20 restaurants and bars across the metro are going back into hibernation as the Omicron variant sweeps the service industry and a labor shortage leaves many short-staffed.

What's happening: Businesses are canceling reservations, posting last-minute closures on social media and leaving signs on the door announcing outbreaks among staff.

  • Axios has confirmed 20 establishments have temporarily closed due to COVID-19 for at least one day in the past week, as of Wednesday, though the number is likely higher.

Why it matters: Despite the CDC's shortened quarantine guidelines, as little as one exposure could force a small business to shutter for days.

Torey Van Oot
Jan 5, 2022 - COVID

Minneapolis and St. Paul issue indoor mask mandates amid COVID spike

Illustration of a pattern of masks
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Minneapolis and St. Paul are reinstituting indoor mask mandates as the spread of Omicron fuels a recent surge in COVID-19 cases across the metro.

Driving the news: Mayors Jacob Frey and Melvin Carter announced the revived rules on Wednesday.

  • Both citywide mandates will go into effect Thursday, starting at 5pm.
Torey Van Oot
Jan 3, 2022 - COVID

Minnesota kicks off 2022 with more COVID frustration

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Omicron dashed our dreams of a 2022 free of COVID disruption.

Driving the news: The rapidly spreading variant has prompted temporary restaurant closures, concert and flight cancelations and delays to return-to-office plans.

Torey Van Oot
Dec 20, 2021 - COVID

How to get a COVID-19 test in Minnesota ahead of Christmas

Illustration of simplified Rudolph the Red Nosed reindeer, with a COVID ball as the nose.
Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The rapidly spreading Omicron variant is increasing demand for COVID-19 tests in much of the country.

Why it matters: Getting tested before gathering indoors and unmasked with family and friends this week can lower the chance someone will unknowingly spread the virus.

Audrey Kennedy
Dec 10, 2021 - News

The great Santa shortage in the Twin Cities and beyond

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Want to share your wish list with Santa? The outing that's long drawn families to local malls to meet Old St. Nick might soon be just a joy of Christmas past.

Driving the news: Many professional Santas are stepping back from in-person services this year due to continued COVID-19 concerns.

  • Shopping centers in the Twin Cities metro have begun pivoting away from the traditional meet-and-greets — opting for socially distant experiences instead.

Why it matters: Photos on Santa's lap are a Christmas card staple, but the role in the COVID era puts the men playing St. Nick at higher risk of contracting the virus.

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