KHRT ND News – 10/13/21

KHRT NEWS – WEDNESDAY – 101321 – 1200
 
WASHINGTON (AP) – The Biden administration says the U.S. will reopen its land borders to nonessential travel next month, ending a 19-month freeze due to the COVID-19 pandemic. International visitors will need to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. Vehicle, rail and ferry travel between the U.S. and Canada and Mexico has been largely restricted to essential travel, such as trade, since the beginning of the pandemic. The rules announced today will allow fully vaccinated foreign nationals to enter the U.S. regardless of the reason for travel. That starts in early November, when a similar easing of restrictions kicks in for air travel. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas says he’s “pleased to be taking steps to resume regular travel.”
 
Canada reopened its border to vaccinated U.S. citizens for nonessential travel on Aug. 9. Gov. Doug Burgum released the following statement. “While this shift in policy unfortunately includes more needless delays, it is a positive and long overdue step toward ending the unnecessary restrictions that have caused real pain to our communities and citizens on both sides of the border as well as our retail and tourism businesses that rely on Canadian travelers,” Burgum said. “We will continue to press the Biden administration – as we have done repeatedly these past several months with our fellow border states and provinces – to lift these restrictions as soon as possible and resume normal travel with Canada, our closest friend, ally and trading partner.”
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BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – A Bismarck man is pleading not guilty to charges that he sexually assaulted a young girl eight years ago. The Bismarck Tribune reports that Paxton Heywood entered the pleas Tuesday from prison. He’s accused of sexually assaulting a girl in 2013 so many times that prosecutors can’t count them. Heywood’s attorney argues the case is what he calls “deeply speculative” because it relies on the memory of a child who was quite young at the time of the alleged assaults. A jury in May found Heywood guilty of sexually assaulting a different girl in a separate case. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison.
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MINOT, ND (TRINITY HEALTH) – A rising tide of COVID-19 cases is creating a strain at healthcare facilities across North Dakota, including Trinity Health. Trinity officials say the latest wave of community transmission is impacting patients, residents, and staff at both acute- and long-term care facilities.
 
At Trinity Homes, a new round of testing was initiated after a handful of positive cases were confirmed among residents and staff. The latest outbreak, though fairly small, has prompted Trinity Homes to return to a locked front entrance, which had been open in recent weeks. Scheduled visits are still allowed on a limited, case-by-case basis. COVID booster shots are being administered to fortify the facility’s resilience.
 
At Trinity Hospital, a moderate surge has been met with equal vigilance, according to Vice President Randy Schwan. He says the hospital has experienced a steady increase in COVID-19 cases each week for the last two months, with no signs of a plateau. Although admissions vary from day to day, the hospital’s med-surg, intensive care, and emergency beds have been at or near capacity on most days, primarily due to younger patients contracting COVID, combined with typical medical emergencies.
 
This past month, visitor restrictions at Trinity Hospital, Trinity Hospital – St. Joseph’s, and Kenmare Community Hospital were raised from “minimal” to “moderate,” with just one asymptomatic adult visitor allowed per day at a patient’s bedside or to accompany a patient to an outpatient procedure. The restrictions could be strengthened yet again, based on metrics that are being monitored daily.
Trinity Health is accepting appointments, based on eligibility, for first, second, and third doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine and for the quadrivalent flu vaccine. Appointments are available by calling Trinity Health’s Vaccination Line at 701-857-2515.
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BISMARCK, ND – Today’s COVID-19 numbers from the North Dakota Department of Health lists 662 new positives along with 570 newly recovered. The daily positive rate is 7.31%. Active cases rise by 115 to 3,979. Hospitalizations rise by two to 183, with 22 of those in ICU. There 6 more deaths reported among those who were positive (1658).
 
 
(Copyright 2021 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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KHRT NEWS – WEDNESDAY – 101321 – 0700
 
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – Budget writers in the North Dakota Legislature began mulling proposals Tuesday on how to spend hundreds of millions of dollars in federal coronavirus aid the state received this year. House and Senate appropriations committees met separately in all-day meetings at the Capitol, listening to pitches from fellow lawmakers and others on a wish list that totaled $9.2 billion – significantly more than the $1.1 billion in federal coronavirus funds transferred to the state-owned Bank of North Dakota in June. The meetings, attended heavily by lobbyists, were the first in a series being held this month to prioritize projects ahead of a Nov. 8 special session, when the full GOP-led Legislature will debate the proposals. The $1.1 billion in federal coronavirus funds represents the single-largest deposit into state coffers in history. The money currently is parked in short-term CDs, earning less than 1% interest. A previous appropriation of $1.25 billion in federal coronavirus aid last year already has been spent or earmarked for spending. In the most recent round of federal funding, the Legislature already has designated all but about $700 million of the money on construction and other infrastructure projects.
 
Senate Appropriations Chairman Ray Holmberg and his counterpart in the House, Jeff Delzer, said priority for the rest of the funding will be given to water, sewer and infrastructure projects, for which there is an immediate need, and those that won’t require a commitment of funds from taxpayers in the future. The funds must be assigned by the end of 2024 and spent by the end of 2026, under federal rules.
 
GOP Gov. Doug Burgum last month recommended legislators quickly spend the money on infrastructure, economic development and other projects to avoid inflation and rising construction costs. GOP Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner and his House majority counterpart, Chet Pollert, said some of Burgum’s priorities would likely be inserted in the Legislature’s final spending package, including spending $100 million for natural gas infrastructure in the state’s oil patch, and funding for state-run workforce development program.
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BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – The head of the agency that handles land rights for some of North Dakota’s largest industries has resigned less than five months into her second term, the governor’s office said Tuesday. Department of Trust Lands Commissioner Jodi Smith is stepping down Oct. 28. She was appointed by the state Board of University and School Lands, known as the Land Board, in 2017 and was reappointed to a second term in June. The Land Department leases rights for grazing and rights to produce oil, coal and gravel from state lands. It manages several state trust funds, including the common schools trust fund that benefits public schools. It’s unclear why Smith decided to take an early exit. She said in a statement that she will remember her time as commissioner with “great fondness” and has offered to act as a consultant after she steps down. “I am exceptionally proud of our accomplishments, proud of my team for their tireless dedication and I am looking forward to my next steps in my own career after these significant accomplishments,” she said.
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WEST FARGO, N.D. – Gov. Doug Burgum delivered opening remarks on Tuesday to kick off the 2021 Main Street ND Summit, emphasizing the importance of building smart, efficient infrastructure that allows communities to differentiate themselves so they can attract and retain a 21st century workforce and attract new investment.
 
Burgum welcomed participants to this year’s summit at the Rustad Recreation Center in West Fargo and provided insight into both the physical elements of infrastructure and the critical need to grow a next-generation community with economic development, workforce and leadership development. The theme of this year’s event is Smart, Efficient Infrastructure.
 
“(Smart, efficient infrastructure) matters because we know that we’re in competition with other states and other communities” for workforce and economic development, Burgum said in his remarks. “How we build our infrastructure, where we build our infrastructure and how we pay for infrastructure affects everything else we do, because if we overspend on infrastructure in a way that’s inefficient, that cuts into our ability to build great amenities in our communities that help us differentiate.”
 
West Fargo was selected for the daylong summit to showcase the mixed-use development that takes advantage of existing and sustainable infrastructure, and properties that help to create in-fill and continue to grow their community.
 
Nearly 800 registrants heard from nationally renowned speakers who shared ways to create and pay for smart, efficient infrastructure. Breakout sessions included workforce development, partnership between businesses and community to retain and attract workforce, business and organizational succession planning and community and economic development.
 
The one-day interactive summit served as a forum for information on the community planning principles behind the pillars of Burgum’s Main Street Initiative: a 21st century workforce; smart, efficient infrastructure; healthy, vibrant communities; and economic diversification, a fourth pillar that was recently added to reflect the administration’s ongoing focus and work on diversifying North Dakota’s economy.
 
 
(Copyright 2021 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
 
 

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