Thumbs up to Gov. Tim Walz taking a measured and reasonable approach as he is forced to tighten some restrictions to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Walz this week ordered bars and restaurants to stop in-person serving at 10 p.m. and reduced the number of people who can attend funerals, weddings and other public and private gatherings.
No one wants to see the hard-hit leisure and entertainment industry facing more headwinds, but the governor is using sound science and virus-tracking data to make his decisions. A sizable share of virus spread has come from younger people gathering in bars late at night.
And the virus is spreading more rapidly because too many people are being careless as they gather at private events.
Walz takes no joy in issuing orders he knows hit Minnesota businesses. With COVID surging out of control and risking to overwhelm medical facilities, he has a responsibility to take actions to help slow the spread.
Congress can act
Thumbs down on Congress not tackling the work it needs to do. No one usually looks to a lame-duck Congress to accomplish much. But in the six weeks ahead, this Congress has plenty it can and should be addressing.
While news on a vaccine is promising, COVID-19 is surging out of control and will be around for at least several months. Congress needs to take up another pandemic response bill that includes significant financial assistance for states and local governments, targeted aid to businesses that have most suffered and to Americans struggling financially and emotionally.
And there is plenty of non-pandemic work Congress could accomplish, including helping restore the battered U.S. Postal Service.
Lame duck doesn’t mean unable to act. Congress has time to get to work.
Strides for vets
Thumbs up to progress made to end homelessness for Minnesota’s military veterans.
A five-county region in the metro area recently has cleared its housing waiting list for homeless vets, earning the Suburban Metro Area Continuum of Care federal designation for ending homelessness. Similar designations have been previously made for six of the 10 other care continuums in the state.
Housing has been found for more than 2,100 previously homeless veterans since the state’s initiative began in 2014, the Pioneer Press reported. Minnesota housed more than 500 vets in 2019 alone.
That doesn’t mean there are no homeless vets left in Minnesota, but the progress is noteworthy. Minnesota statewide Homeless Veterans Registry now has 308 names on the list, and there should be concern that the number has grown since 2019 under the strains of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Until the list is down to zero, the state needs to keep working on the problem using the coordinated approach it has in place, but it’s promising to know that so many veterans have received help meeting the basic need of reliable, permanent shelter.
Thumbs down to the Midwestern driver who must have misunderstood the Polaris slogan. Maybe he thought “Think Outside” was the same as “think outside the box” when he strapped a snowmobile to the roof of a car to transport it.
A Wisconsin state trooper pulled the driver over earlier this month and the patrol tweeted a photo of the car with the sled on top with the message: “Folks, don’t try this at home.”
It’s as though the 23-year-old driver was reliving a scene from the Thanksgiving movie “Planes, Trains and Automobiles.” When John Candy’s character is pulled over, a trooper asks him if the burned-out shell of a car he is driving seems road-worthy to him. Candy nods and says, “Yes, I do. Yes, I really do. I know it’s not pretty to look at, but it will get you where you want to go.”
The real-life Wisconsin driver with Minnesota plates said this to the real-life trooper about the rooftop snowmobile arrangement: “I know it looks sketchy, but we had it strapped down and shook it.”
Driving unsafe contraptions belongs in comedies, not on roadways.
Luckily this guy got stopped and likely will still be alive at Thanksgiving.