Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily digest of what local media outlets and Twitter-ers are gabbing about.
I, For One, Welcome Our Super Pig Overlords
We couldn't be happier with the lede from this recent Investigate Midwest story: "Minnesota has long enjoyed its status as a state free of wild pigs..." Amen, sister. But, as we learn in the words that follow, the piggies will soon pave our paradise—via hog-wild mayhem! So-called Canadian "super pigs" are rooting their way toward Minnesota, Madison McVan writes, and their impending arrival is striking fear into the hearts of our state's pork producers and environmental regulators. "These animals got all the benefits of the wild boar side, especially that fur and the extra long legs and the long snout, and so they got that warmth advantage,” Ryan Brook of the Canadian Wild Pig Research Project says of the hybrid beasts. “Then they got this huge advantage of being big, which is really important in cold environments to stay warm and survive.”
Making matters worse: The Minnesota Department of Natural resources "has no dedicated funding for wild pig removal and monitoring programs," McVan explains, and our state's meager federal stipend has plummeted to just $25,000 per year. Wild hogs have never established a Minnesota colony, though experts have grim predictions for what might happen if/when they do. “In 20 years, we went from a non-problem to an out-of-control freight train,” Brook says of Canada's super pig problem. Yikes... in hammier swine news, the St. Paul Saints just bestowed their annual ball-pig pun to Mud Grant, a hard-working piglet who will honor recently departed Vikings coach Bud Grant throughout the 2023 season.
Introducing Wrestaurant at the Palace
First Avenue has been teasing a restaurant at the Palace Theatre since it took over the old Wild Tymes space in 2017 (33 W. Seventh Pl., St. Paul), and we don't think (?) one ever opened. Until now! Today, the Palace and Wrecktangle Pizza announced that they're teaming up to open Wrestaurant at the Palace, a new neighborhood joint with the Wrecktangle pizzas, sandwiches, and slices you know and love along with some new dishes and a "distinctive" cocktail list. This'll be a full-service restaurant and bar that's kind of like the existing Wrecktangle locations, but a little bit different—and they'll have a slice window for takeout. The Palace says it's coming this summer, and you can follow along via all the usual places: Instagram/Twitter/Facebook. We remain, as ever, vindicated in naming Wrecktangle the No. 1 pizza chain in the Twin Cities.
Sometimes Nurses Are Bad
And often, the Minnesota Board of Nursing doesn’t act quickly enough in response. That’s what Emily Hopkins and Jeremy Kohler of ProPublica discovered. The average length of an investigation is now 11 months, they write, and some investigations are dragging on for years. In the meantime, nurses accused of serious misconduct keep nursing away. Examples given here include a nurse fired for stealing pain meds from her patients in 2021 and, even more shockingly, the nurse who failed to treat Hardel Sherrell when he collapsed in a Beltrami County jail cell, a 2018 incident that resulted in a multimillion-dollar wrongful death award and the passage of a state law improving health care for prison inmates. This sluggishness is despite a 2015 state audit that deemed the board too slow to act on complaints, which led to a slight, temporary speedup that’s long over. Possible culprits include short-staffing and poor leadership, the story concludes.
No More Masks at Mayo
Lots of hospitals and health centers are still asking visitors to wear face coverings, but soon the Mayo Clinic won't be one of them. The Mayo announced today that beginning Monday, April 10, it will no longer require patients or staffers to wear masks "in most patient care areas." It's not clear exactly which areas of the campus will still require them, and the hospital will continue to ask immunocompromised patients to wear 'em, but the policy change is essentially the Mayo dropping its mask requirement. "Mayo Clinic is evolving its policies due to the consistently low rates of hospitalizations, mortality and community transmission levels of COVID-19 observed at most Mayo Clinic locations," their statement reads. If you're looking for clarity about masking now, NPR just talked to experts about where and when they're still masking up back in February.