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Putting MN’s Breakthrough COVID Cases in Context

Plus new language for the ballot question and the State Fair's lowest attendance in four decades.

COVID 19 vaccine
Mohammad Shahhosseini

Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily noontime(ish) digest of what local media outlets and Twitter-ers are gabbing about.

Break On Through

Will someone please just tell us how concerned vaccinated Minnesotans need to be about contracting COVID? Every day, we’re bombarded with numbers. As of Tuesday, there are about 3 million fully vaccinated statewide, and there have been 15,819 COVID infections in vaccinated people, with 3,260 of those identified in the last week, per the Star Tribune. Last month, almost 30% of positive COVID-19 tests were in fully vaccinated people, and the rate of breakthrough infections is now 0.52%. But then: Minnesota’s rate of breakthrough hospitalizations in vaccinated folks is just 0.031%, and the rate of breakthrough COVID-19 deaths is only 0.003%. So… is that good?

The NYT tried to put it all in perspective yesterday, saying that the risk is about one in 5,000 per day, or maybe even one in 10,000. It’s “even lower for people who take precautions or live in a highly vaccinated community.” Does that make you feel safe? Should it? Did you even get through all those digits to see what the Times said?

A Ballot Buzzer Beater

After a county judge ruled yesterday that the public safety ballot question was “vague, ambiguous, and incapable of implementation,” Minneapolis City Council scrambled to get a modified proposal on the ballot. The revised language was submitted to Hennepin County and the Secretary of State’s Office juuuust before the 3 p.m. deadline yesterday, along with a four-sentence “explanatory note” outlining exactly what the ballot question would do. Yes 4 Minneapolis, the group working to implement a Department of Public Safety, reacted in a Twitter thread yesterday afternoon: “Our well funded and powerful opposition is going to continue to lie about what the charter change does and, sadly, this new ballot language makes that work easier for them.”

Fairground Beat Down

An update on Monday night’s State Fair chaos: There’s no update, really. Fox 9 reported that the 50 or so people who stormed the gates were upset they couldn’t get in after the fairgrounds closed, but “authorities did not say how big the crowd was, whether there were any arrests or injuries, or what led to the disturbance,” according to the Strib. (The final day of the State Fair in 2019 was also marked by a bit of chaos.) The mob might have had a nice time with few lines if they got there earlier: With a total of 1.3 million attending this year, the State Fair officially welcomed its lowest number of visitors since 1977. Given the pandemic, the weather, the staffing struggles, and the anxiety leading up to this year’s fair, GM Jerry Hammer called the attendance figure “perfect.”

Yet Another Horrible Former Ren Fest Employee

Just as we were contemplating a trip out to ye olde Shakopee for a little escapism, we’re hit with a cold dose of 2021 reality: Yet another former employee facing sexual assault charges. This Tuesday, Bryan E. Ellinger, 31, pled guilty to multiple assaults on three teenagers, ages 15 to 17. The incidents mostly occurred at the event site between 2012 and 2017, while he was a manager at the Renaissance Festival and the Trail of Terror. According to prosecutors, this dumb asshole doesn’t GAF about the victims; they’ve been listening in on his jail phone calls, where he’s been recorded mocking the women and saying things like, “I guess I have predatory behavior because I’m a predator. I’m into different things.” He could serve 15 to 19 years in prison. In June, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights settled two cases against Mid-America Festivals Corporation, which operates the Minnesota Renaissance Festival and Trail of Terror, after it discovered that supervisors were using their “power to sexually assault, harass or rape workers, violating the Minnesota Human Rights Act.”

Remember the MOA Water Park?

Axios reports that the Mall of America water park, first proposed in 2018, is back on the table today. Before the pandemic, Bloomington officials made some progress on the 250,000-square-foot park project, which was estimated to cost between $230 million and $250 million. Today, they’ll decide whether to continue with the original concept, consider a simpler financing structure, or keep the project on hold for now. If you’re saying, “Doesn’t Bloomington already have a relatively new mall-adjacent water park?” you are correct.