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Missouri COVID update: 7-day case average lowest it’s been in over two months



Missouri COVID update: 7-day case average lowest it’s been in over two months

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The average number of COVID-19 cases is at a seven-week low.

The 7-day rolling average for cases in Missouri sits at 1,387; yesterday, it was 1,435. Exactly one month ago, the state rolling average was 1,801. On July 16, the rolling average was 1,322.

According to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, the state has recorded 672,089 cumulative cases of SARS-CoV-2—an increase of 936 positive cases (PCR testing only)—and 11,332 total deaths as of Sunday, Sept. 26, an increase of 1 over yesterday. That’s a case fatality rate of 1.69%.

Please keep in mind that not all cases and deaths recorded occurred in the last 24 hours.

State health officials report 53.4% of the total population has received at least one dose of the vaccine. Approximately 64.8% of all adults 18 years of age and older have initiated the process.

The state has administered 54,717 doses of vaccine in the last 7 days (this metric is subject to a delay, meaning the last three days are not factored in). The highest vaccination rates are among people over 65.

Boone County, the city of Joplin, St. Louis County, and St. Charles County are the only jurisdictions in the state with at least 50% of its population fully vaccinated. Eighteen other jurisdictions in the state are at least 40% fully vaccinated: Atchison, Cole, Jackson, Franklin, Greene, Jefferson, Cass, Nodaway, Andrew, Cape Girardeau, Ste. Genevieve, Carroll, Callaway, Gasconade, and Christian counties, as well as St. Louis City, Kansas City, and Independence.

Vaccination is the safest way to achieve herd immunity. Herd immunity for COVID-19 requires 80% to 90% of the population to have immunity, either by vaccination or recovery from the virus.

(Source: Missouri Dept. of Health and Senior Services)

The Bureau of Vital Records at DHSS performs a weekly linkage between deaths to the state and death certificates to improve quality and ensure all decedents that died of COVID-19 are reflected in the systems. As a result, the state’s death toll will see a sharp increase from time to time. Again, that does not mean a large number of deaths happened in one day; instead, it is a single-day reported increase.

At the state level, DHSS is not tracking probable or pending COVID deaths. Those numbers are not added to the state’s death count until confirmed in the disease surveillance system either by the county or through analysis of death certificates.

The 10 days with the most reported cases occurred between Oct. 10, 2020, and Jan. 8, 2021.

Approximately 49.4% of all reported cases are for individuals 39 years of age and younger. The state has further broken down the age groups into smaller units. The 18 to 24 age group has 83,206 recorded cases, while 25 to 29-year-olds have 57,456 cases.

People 80 years of age and older account for approximately 43.6% of all recorded deaths in the state.

Month / Year Missouri COVID cases*
(reported that month)
March 2020 1,327
April 2020 6,235
May 2020 5,585
June 2020 8,404
July 2020 28,772
August 2020 34,374
September 2020 41,416
October 2020 57,073
November 2020 116,576
December 2020 92,808
January 2021 66,249
February 2021 19,405
March 2021 11,150
April 2021 12,165
May 2021 9,913
June 2021 12,680
July 2021 42,780
August 2021 60,275
September 2021 41,062
(Source: Missouri Dept. of Health and Senior Services)

Missouri has administered 7,002,614 PCR tests for COVID-19 over the entirety of the pandemic and as of Sept. 25, 16.9% of those tests have come back positive. People who have received multiple PCR tests are not counted twice, according to the state health department.

According to the state health department’s COVID-19 Dashboard, “A PCR test looks for the viral RNA in the nose, throat, or other areas in the respiratory tract to determine if there is an active infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. A positive PCR test means that the person has an active COVID-19 infection.”

The Missouri COVID Dashboard no longer includes the deduplicated method of testing when compiling the 7-day moving average of positive tests. The state is now only using the non-deduplicated method, which is the CDC’s preferred method. That number is calculated using the number of tests taken over the period since many people take multiple tests. Under this way of tabulating things, Missouri has a 9.4% positivity rate as of Sept. 23. Health officials exclude the most recent three days to ensure data accuracy when calculating the moving average.

The 7-day positivity rate was 4.5% on June 1, 10.2% on July 1, and 15.0% on Aug. 1.

As of Sept. 23, Missouri is reporting 1,735 COVID hospitalizations and a rolling 7-day average of 1,781. The remaining inpatient hospital bed capacity sits at 17% statewide. The state’s public health care metrics lag behind by three days due to reporting delays, especially on weekends. Keep in mind that the state counts all beds available and not just beds that are staffed by medical personnel.

On July 6, the 7-day rolling average for hospitalizations eclipsed the 1,000-person milestone for the first time in four months, with 1,013 patients. The 7-day average for hospitalizations had previously been over 1,000 from Sept. 16, 2020, to March 5, 2021.

On Aug. 5, the average eclipsed 2,000 patients for the first time in more than seven months. It was previously over 2,000 from Nov. 9, 2020, to Jan. 27, 2021.

The 2021 low point on the hospitalization average in Missouri was 655 on May 29.

Across the state, 452 COVID patients are in ICU beds, leaving the state’s remaining intensive care capacity at 18%.

If you have additional questions about the coronavirus, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services is available at 877-435-8411.

As of Sept. 26, the CDC identified 42,770,371 cases of COVID-19 and 684,884 deaths across all 50 states and 9 U.S.-affiliated districts, jurisdictions, and affiliated territories, for a national case-fatality rate of 1.6%.

How do COVID deaths compare to other illnesses, like the flu or even the H1N1 pandemics of 1918 and 2009? It’s a common question.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), preliminary data on the 2018-2019 influenza season in the United States shows an estimated 35,520,883 cases and 34,157 deaths; that would mean a case-fatality rate of 0.09 percent. Case-fatality rates on previous seasons are as follows: 0.136 percent (2017-2018), 0.131 percent (2016-2017), 0.096 percent (2015-2016), and 0.17 percent (2014-2015).

The 1918 H1N1 epidemic, commonly referred to as the “Spanish Flu,” is estimated to have infected 29.4 million Americans and claimed 675,000 lives as a result; a case-fatality rate of 2.3 percent. The Spanish Flu claimed greater numbers of young people than typically expected from other influenzas.

Beginning in January 2009, another H1N1 virus—known as the “swine flu”—spread around the globe and was first detected in the US in April of that year. The CDC identified an estimated 60.8 million cases and 12,469 deaths; a 0.021 percent case-fatality rate.

For more information and updates regarding COVID mandates, data, and the vaccine, click here.


Teenage boy injured in apparent drive-by shooting on St. Paul’s East Side



Teenage boy injured in apparent drive-by shooting on St. Paul’s East Side

A teenage boy who was injured during an apparent drive-by shooting Thursday afternoon in St. Paul is expected to survive his injuries, according to police.

Police spokesman Steve Linders said that about 4:20 p.m., officers were called to the 500 block of Sims Avenue on reports of gunfire. Witnesses at the scene in the Payne-Phalen neighborhood said they heard as many as 20 shots and saw two men flee the scene in an SUV. More than 15 bullet casings were found.

Shortly thereafter, a teenage boy with a gunshot wound was dropped off at Regions Hospital.

The shooting is under investigation. No further details were available Thursday night.

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White Bear Lake middle school gets rid of ‘F’ grades. Parents raise concerns.



White Bear Lake middle school gets rid of ‘F’ grades. Parents raise concerns.

Under a new grading system at a White Bear Lake middle school, students no longer will be given an F grade — no matter how bad they did on an assignment or test or if it was turned in late or not at all.

Instead, the grading system that began last month at Sunrise Middle School will start out at 50 percent, with nothing below that for assignments, tests, quizzes and projects. School officials say the approach, which one teacher described as “equitable grading” and a districtwide initiative, is aimed at ensuring that grades accurately reflect how well the students know the material and take out behavioral factors.

But some parents say the White Bear Lake’s new approach won’t motivate kids to excel and get work done on time.

The new method is among several efforts to change the way schools grade students, especially during the pandemic. For the 2020-21 school year, the Minnesota Department of Education urged schools to maintain a “do-no-harm” philosophy. Students, the department said, should get to choose the option of receiving a letter grade if it’s going to help their grade-point average, or a pass/fail grade if it won’t.

In a Sept. 24 video to parents, Sunrise Principal Christina Pierre explained their thinking by offering up a common situation from the past, when an F grade was classified as an I, or incomplete. Say a student received a B on one test, a C on another and then missed a third, which resulted in an incomplete test grade, or zero percentage points toward the overall grade. Taking all three grades into account, the student’s grade would also be an incomplete.

“That doesn’t seem fair, if two of the three grades are already passing grades, and only one of them, the student missed,” she said, “they shouldn’t have an overall grade of an ‘I.’”

So, the “solution,” she said, is to treat the incomplete grade the same as the B and the C by giving it a 50 percent, instead of zero.

In an interview Thursday, Pierre said that students would still get an overall grade of incomplete in the class if they score less than 60 percent.

Students will be given 10 days to retake or revise tests and quizzes and projects to better their scores. That window will allow teachers to work with students so they can learn the material, instead of just taking them as soon as possible when perhaps they are not ready, she said.

“We realize that not every kid gets it the first time,” she said. “Some students need more time to learn something than others.”

Also as part of the new system, Sunrise is now going to include in overall grades “exactly what the student knows based on what we want them to learn,” she said, and therefore grades no longer will include behavior, attitude, tardiness and whether an assignment was turned in late.

“There’s other ways that we can communicate those things to parents, and so they’re not going to be included in grades,” she said. “We recognize that this is really increasing the rigor of grades, we’re insisting that students make sure that they learn the material.”


Rebekah Bradfield, a Sunrise parent and candidate for the White Bear Lake School Board, said she first was told about the new grading system from her seventh-grade daughter’s language arts teacher about a week into the school year. In the email, which Bradfield forwarded to the Pioneer Press, the teacher explains that it was implemented schoolwide this year “as we move forward with more equitable grading practices throughout the district.”

Pierre said Thursday that the term “equitable grading” is “just another word for standards-based grading, which has been been around for 20 to 30 years. Standards-based grading is just about making sure that the grades communicate exactly what the student knows and is able to do.”

When asked about whether “equitable grading” involves addressing racial disparities in education, Pierre said, “I wouldn’t say it has nothing to do with it, but I wouldn’t say that it has everything to do with it. With everything we do, we need to be cognizant of how it impacts all of our students and our sub-populations.”

Bradfield said she dug into the goals of the district’s equity policies and they have a lot to do with grading. According to the district’s latest workforce and achievement and integration progress report, which was presented to the school board Sept. 27, the district wants enrollment in advanced high school courses to mirror the general student population in terms of race and family income.

Bradfield also pointed to a recent news release on the district’s website announcing that Superintendent Wayne Kazmierczak was named this year’s “Superintendent of the Year” by the Minnesota Association of School Administrators. It states the district has conducted an equity audit and, “in light of the killing of George Floyd and how conversations across the nation have evolved during this past year,” the district is “positioned to develop and implement both meaningful and actionable equity strategies, including through grading.”

“Grading can be one of the largest areas in which systemic racism and inequities are perpetuated,” the release states. “Kazmierczak and WBLAS believe grades should be a measure of what a student knows and has mastered in a given course. Grading should not be a behavior punishment and should not be a measure of how well a student can survive stress at home. Under Dr. Kazmierczak’s leadership and in line with the district’s strategic plan and commitment to eliminating systemic racism, the district began tackling grading disparities a year ago when they dramatically changed their grading practices.”


Pierre said other secondary schools in the district are also doing some aspects of the new strategy, but was unsure Thursday to what extent.

“As a district, as any functional organization should, we are always reviewing our policies and our procedures and our systems to make sure we’re functioning as well as possible,” she said. “And so we should always be updating and improving what we do, and so this is just part of it.”

But Bradfield said the new grading system gives students little to no incentive to do the work on time — and she is not alone. She said she’s heard concerns from parents and has read them in parent Facebook groups.

“They have very similar concerns as I do,” she said, “where they’re saying that it’s going to look good on paper, but the kids are not going to be ready for real life.”

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Stillwater school board fills vacancy created by recent resignation



Stillwater school board fills vacancy created by recent resignation

Stillwater school board members voted unanimously Thursday night to approve a resolution to appoint Vivian Votava to fill an open seat on the school board.

Votava, a principal quality engineer at DiaSorin in Stillwater, will serve until a special election is held in November 2022. The seat had previously been held by Matt Onken, who resigned last month citing the political divide in the school district.

Votava was one of three candidates who applied for the open seat. She will be administered the oath of office following the required 30-day period for petition.

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Rem Pitlick’s homecoming with the Wild is all business



Rem Pitlick’s homecoming with the Wild is all business

As the clock on his dashboard approached midnight, Wild winger Rem Pitlick seriously considered pulling off at the nearest rest stop to get a few hours of shut-eye. He had a sleeping bag with him and everything.

Luckily for the 24-year-old Pitlick, his mom Lisa came through at the last minute. She found him a hotel near Quincy, Ill., meaning Pitlick did not have to sleep in his used Nissan Pathfinder. He slept for a few hours before continuing his trek to the Twin Cities.

After roughly 13 1/2 hours of driving, Pitlick finally checked into his hotel on Wednesday night before hurriedly making his way to Xcel Energy Center for a preseason game. Needless to say, it has been a whirlwind for Pitlick since the hometown Wild claimed him off waivers on Tuesday afternoon.

“Not really settled yet,” said Pitlick, who got placed on waivers by the Nashville Predators earlier this week. “I didn’t know if I was going to get picked at all. I actually had the time wrong with my agent, so I thought I didn’t get picked up. Then he called me and goes, ‘We’ve still got another hour.’ I’m like, ‘OK.’ Then I got picked up and finished the packing.”

Now that the dust is starting to settle, Pitlick is excited for the next chapter in his career, back where it all began. He cut his teeth on the outdoor rinks in Plymouth as a kid and starred for the University of Minnesota before turning pro.

Though his time with the Predators didn’t go as planned — he played in only 11 games in the NHL after signing on March 22, 2019 — Pitlick is excited that his path led him to the Wild. He grew up cheering for the hometown team and is pumped that he gets to wear the sweater for real.

That said, Pitlick made it clear that he’s not going to get caught up in the hoopla that can sometimes be associated with a homecoming.

“I’m here to play hockey and try to earn an opportunity,” Pitlick said. “It’s not trying to hang out with my family or my friends. I’m here to play hockey. And I’m going to take this very seriously.”

The biggest thing Pitlick has working in his favor is he already has been down this road. He arrived in Dinkytown as a prized recruit and managed to block out the distractions on his way to the next level. He’s confident he can do the same thing with the Wild.

“It’s like, oh my gosh, I’m here, it’s amazing, people are texting me, people want tickets,” Pitlick said of his time with the Gophers. “I was able to kind of figure out how to not be distracted during that time.”

Asked why he decided to bring Pitlick in so late in training camp, with the Oct. 15 season opener against the Anaheim Ducks right around the corner, Wild general manager Bill Guerin said he felt it was worth taking a chance on a highly-skilled kid.

“He’s the type of guy that we value,” Guerin said. “He can score. He’s got a great shot. He’s high character. In talking to people that know him well, like Bob Motzko at the U, they have great things to say about his character and his passion for the game. There’s very little risk. We just thought it made a lot of sense.”

In his conversation with Pitlick earlier this week, Guerin also made it clear that this is his job.

“I joked with him, I said, ‘You’re not coming home. You’re coming to work,’ ” Guerin said. “It can always be a big thrill playing for the home team. We are excited to have him.”

As for where Pitlick fits in the lineup, Wild coach Dean Evason said he wants to see him play before he makes that decision. The plan is for Pitlick to play in the preseason finale against the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday night at the United Center.

“He’s got a skill set that we think is untapped obviously at this level,” Evason said. “He’s very excited about the opportunity and, speaking to him, very thankful to get an opportunity. Obviously he got put on waivers with the opportunity to probably get sent down. He’s here, and he’s going to get an opportunity for us, so we’re looking for him to be what he is.”

What exactly is Pitlick? Well, he has been a top-tier goal scorer at every level, including as a pro in the American Hockey League. All that’s left for him to do is prove it at the highest level.

“Obviously, I’ve been picked up,” Pitlick said. “But I don’t expect anything. I’m here to work. I haven’t fully established myself in the NHL. I’m coming here to work and see if I can earn an opportunity.”


Matt Dumba scored the game-winner in overtime as the Wild earned a 3-2 win over the rival Chicago Blackhawks. Joel Eriksson Ek and Alex Goligoski had the other goals for the Wild.

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Minnesota’s hospital capacity continues to tighten due to COVID-19



Minnesota’s hospital capacity continues to tighten due to COVID-19

The number of available hospital beds, especially those for children, are dwindling across Minnesota because of increased demand and the ongoing fourth wave of COVID-19 cases.

Some parts of the state have no open hospital beds with the proper staff to care for patients, Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said Thursday. In other regions the number of available beds are in the single digits.

“We have been saying since the beginning of this pandemic that it is a top priority to protect the capacity of our health systems to make sure people are getting the care they need,” Malcolm said. “Capacity is tight everywhere, including pediatric hospital beds.”

Beds are full because of the nearly 900 COVID-19 patients requiring care and that larger-than-expected numbers of people are arriving with severe conditions like heart attacks and strokes. Health officials believe the increased need for hospital care now is due, in part, to people having deferred other care earlier during the pandemic.

Dr. Kevin Croston, CEO of North Memorial Health in Robbinsdale, said it was not unusual for a hospital to discharge 100 patients in a day only to see those beds immediately refill.

“It probably been the most challenging year I have experienced in my 30-plus year career,” Croston said. “Every element of our health system is incredibly stressed. It has been for a long time and it just keeps building.”

He noted that 75 percent of COVID-19 patients in regular hospital beds — and 100 percent of those in intensive care — are unvaccinated.

There are more people currently hospitalized with COVID-19 than any other time this year. The number of people requiring care is roughly half what it was at the peak of the state’s worst surge, in December, just before vaccines became available.

Hospitals leaders from across Minnesota say they are working together to find ways to maintain capacity and care for patients. In some cases that includes postponing procedures.

The biggest capacity challenge for providers is staffing shortages, something Croston said has hit a critical level. Nationwide, health care providers have been leaving the profession because of the strain of the 19-month long pandemic.

“The staff are exhausted and they are working harder than they ever have,” he said.

Dr. Marc Gorelick, Children’s Minnesota president and CEO, said there’s been a dramatic increase in pediatric patients over the past few months. This includes an unexpected rise in respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV, as well as a rise in both trauma and acute mental health cases.

“We are doing everything we can. The good news is, it’s working,” Gorelick said. “It’s strained, but we are meeting the needs of the kids in the state.”

Rachelle H. Schultz, Winona Health president and CEO, said rural hospitals are experiencing the same capacity challenges as those in the Twin Cities metro.

Schultz, Gorelick and Croston all said that community members can help health care providers maintain hospital capacity by following coronavirus mitigation measures such as getting vaccinated, wearing masks in public and staying home when ill.

“We are here to help and we need the help of our communities to get through this together,” Schultz said.

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Timberwolves’ preseason road trip provides chance to bond and compete



Timberwolves’ preseason road trip provides chance to bond and compete

The Timberwolves’ first extended road trip of the season is taking place earlier than usual. Starting Friday in Denver, Minnesota will play three road games in three separate cities over a seven-day span.

The Wolves will be in Denver on Friday and Los Angeles on Monday to play the Clippers before heading to Brooklyn to play the Nets next Thursday.

It’s rare for an exhibition road trip, but the getaway checks a couple of traditional preseason boxes. Many teams will hold destination training camps away from their home bases. The Wolves, for example, used to hold training camp in Mankato. A few years back, in Minnesota’s first season with Jimmy Butler under former coach Tom Thibodeau, the team held training camp in San Diego before departing to play two preseason games in China.

Those trips provide bonding opportunities for a team to attempt to unite itself further before the start of a grueling 82-game regular-season grind.

This trip gives the Wolves a chance to do some of that. Some of it has already taken place. Timberwolves coach Chris Finch said Jarred Vanderbilt organized a dinner for the players Thursday night in Denver, where he started his NBA career. Finch and the coaches were not invited.

“Nor do I want to be,” Finch said with a laugh.

Timberwolves players gathered as a group in Miami before the start of training camp, where they worked out with one another, played some volleyball and spent time with new owners Marc Lore and Alex Rodriguez. It was a similar trip to the one the team took a couple years ago to the Bahamas.

But not everyone was in attendance. Anthony Edwards, for instance, was filming his role in a movie. Everyone will be on this trip.

“Our guys are excited,” Finch said.

Karl-Anthony Towns said this week that what he loves most about this team thus far is its spirit.

“That takes care of a lot of things that may not be made up in talent is just our spirit is so good,” he said. “It makes up for a lot of things that we may be lacking.”

Finch has noted the team’s apparent chemistry on and off the floor. That’s why he thinks players are legitimately looking forward to spending time with one another. The trip also checks another box — getting prepared for the upcoming season. Minnesota’s three opponents — the Nuggets, Clippers and Nets — all won at least one playoff series last season.

While it’s still preseason, such tests figure to help the Wolves figure out where they are, and where they need to go.

“Kind of takes the place of the traditional go away for training camp. Covering a lot of ground on this road trip. And that was intentional,” Finch said. “We wanted to play good teams in good cities where our guys would feel like they could get out and be with each other.”

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High school football: Academy Force’s Peyton Gremmels is one of state’s top-producing receivers



High school football: Academy Force’s Peyton Gremmels is one of state’s top-producing receivers

Running the football is in the DNA of Academy Force head football coach Noah Dombrovski and his offensive staff members.

Traditionally, Academy Force — an east metro co-op team based out of St. Croix Prep — prefers to run the ball about 70 percent of the time.

But then came a play last fall against Minneapolis Edison in which Dombrovski and Co. knew for certain it was time to adapt.

On a deep ball down the sideline, receiver Peyton Gremmels made an acrobatic grab between two defenders. It was so good, in fact, that the Edison head coach made a point to ask Dombrovski after the game about where this wide receiver came from.

“It was kind of an acrobatic catch and it was just like ‘Holy cow, alright, we know we can keep going to him and he’s going to make some crazy catches,’ ” Dombrovski recalled this week.

And he made the routine catches ones, too. Frankly, Gremmels would make all the plays. In that game alone, Gremmels finished with seven catches for 124 yards and a touchdown.

“I think that was like ‘OK, we can rely on him to move some things up for us,’ ” Dombrovski said.

And in this season, Gremmels’ senior campaign, the receiver has become the focal point of the Academy Force offense — for good reason.

Through five games Gremmels has 34 catches for 533 yards from quarterback Ethan Petersen, putting him among the state’s top-producing pass catchers. He has accounted for half of Academy Force’s eight offensive touchdowns, while adding four more two-point conversions.

It’s a rarity in high school, but it’s true for Academy Force — the offense is centered on the 6-foot-1 wide receiver. Academy Force (1-4), which hosts Minneapolis Roosevelt at 7 p.m. Friday at St. Croix Prep, has other weapons, such as first-year receiver Josh Louis. But Gremmels is who makes the offense go.

“It’s definitely like, ‘Alright, we need one, what can we do to get Peyton open?’ ” Dombrovski said. “Peyton is the guy that we run through, so that’s how we’ve got to roll.”

“Coach always has a game plan of what they run, what routes will be open and what to run,” Gremmels said, “and I just execute it.”

His junior season was the first time Gremmels played wide receiver at the varsity level, though this is his fourth year starting for Academy Force. The Woodbury product was Academy Force’s second-leading tackler from the defensive back position as a freshman, per Dombrovski, but he quickly showed a knack at receiver when given the opportunity.

“I kind of played a little bit in like middle school. I don’t know. Just the offense that we’re running, it works well,” Gremmels said. “I like just like the competition, man on man against the corner.”

He put in work in the offseason, mastering his routes and footwork. It has paid off in a big way this season. Gremmels has at least four catches in every game this fall. Over the past three games, he has 25 catches for 441 yards and four scores. That includes a 195-yard, three-touchdown showing in Academy Force’s Homecoming victory over Concordia Academy — Gremmels’ favorite game to date.

“Every play we threw at him, he made it. So we’re just like, ‘Alright, let’s keep doing it!’ ” Dombrovski said.

Gremmels has earned that trust. The receiver/defensive back is being recruited by area Division III schools, and said he has roster spots offered by Hamline and Augsburg. Quiet, calm and smart, Gremmels is “the most chill good player you’ll ever meet,” Dombrovski said.

While not boastful, Gremmels does carry a quiet confidence. This is the type of statistical season he was planning to put together, and he’s hopeful more wins soon follow.

Defenses have started to shade coverages in Gremmels’ direction. It’s becoming common for the receiver to hear opposing coaches yell out for defenders to “Watch No. 13.” All eyes on him.

Dombrovski noted Gremmels has always been a quick learner. On defense, Academy Force will push him into the box against strong running teams, and have him serve as the surveyor of the secondary when an opponent is set to pass. He’s a swiss army knife of sorts.

Offensively, Gremmels doesn’t even need to see a route, but rather have it explained to him, and he’ll soon have it down. Dombrovski recalled a time when the coaching staff described a “whip” route to Gremmels in practice. He ran it in the game two days later for an easy score.

“He definitely has the football sense, the smarts, he’s a great route-runner,” Dombrovski said. “We can throw a fade to him, we can throw a whip route to him, we can throw any route to him and he’ll run it just perfect the first time and get open.”

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Michael R. Strain: Republicans need to be more than the party of Trump



Michael R. Strain: Republicans need to be more than the party of Trump

Republicans are apparently too busy stoking cultural grievances and recounting votes from the 2020 presidential election to craft a policy agenda for the next election. Looking forward instead of backward would be a better way to build political support and to channel the populism of former President Donald Trump into programs to help working- and middle-class voters.

The alternative for the GOP is to contest the 2024 election as a referendum on Trump’s personality and his false claims of election fraud. Republican partisans are convinced; nearly 6 in 10 Republicans and GOP-leaning independents state that believing the 2020 election was stolen from Trump is an important part of what it means to be a Republican, according to a recent CNN poll. And Trump’s fantasy is already a big part of the 2022 midterm elections.

But do Republicans really want voters to focus exclusively on Trump?

A healthy political party can’t be stuck in the past and it can’t be a cult of personality. This should be obvious from Trump’s loss in the personality-driven 2020 contest. That year, the GOP couldn’t even write a policy platform for its nominating convention. Instead, it released a bizarre statement of fealty to Trump.

If the GOP wants to make inroads among the many voters who aren’t loyal to the former president, it needs a policy agenda. Such an agenda would communicate the values the party stands for, as well as offering solutions to the challenges citizens face.

In addition to relitigating 2020, much of the party is sounding the alarm about the excesses of progressive social activism derided as “wokeism.” I, too, am concerned about the issue and think liberal society is undermined by treating people as members of groups rather than as individuals, and by shutting down the marketplace of ideas rather than engaging in it.

Some Republicans have attempted to marry the cultural grievances invoked by the “woke” label with policy. Take a new bill proposed by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio which, according to his press release, “would enable shareholders to hold woke corporations accountable.”

Cultural differences have a place in political debate, but they shouldn’t be allowed to push out other imperatives. They are not as urgent as improving the quality of education, figuring out how to retrain workers who have been displaced, or reversing the decades-long decline in workforce participation among men. And they are not the top challenges facing households that need better access to affordable child care or higher education.

The GOP is wedded to Trumpian populism, an outlook of grievance that pits “the people” against “the elites,” foreigners and immigrants. This analytically impoverished view of the world takes policy debates in unfortunate directions, as Rubio’s bill shows.

But there are manifestations of populism that point a constructive way forward. A focus on the working and middle classes could channel populist energy in a healthier direction. To keep its coalition together — to keep businesspeople and free market enthusiasts on board — Republicans need to marry that focus with traditional commitments to the free enterprise system, individual liberty, personal responsibility and advancing economic opportunity.

One opportunity is to shape policies that can highlight the shortcomings of President Joe Biden’s agenda. For example, if Biden is able to expand the size and scope of government involvement in health care, child care and higher education, as he has proposed, this gives the GOP the opportunity to offer alternative policies that are rooted in a commitment to free markets, but that still address the legitimate concerns that working- and middle-class households have.

A second major fault line exists over the value of workforce participation. The progressive left is quick to brand large swaths of the labor market as consisting of “dead-end jobs” and is eager to divorce safety-net programs from work requirements. A marriage of free markets and populism could push back against this, arguing for the value of employment and for the inherent dignity of work, even flipping burgers and unloading trucks.

An agenda around this wouldn’t just be laissez faire. Instead, it could consist of expanding earnings subsidies, redistributing income to encourage employment by subsidizing it. Or it could scratch the populist “anti-elite” itch by chipping away at employer power in the labor market, restricting noncompete clauses in employment contracts and loosening occupational licensing restrictions, all of which advance the interests of big firms and incumbents ahead of workers.

Defining itself against Biden’s agenda and rallying around a pro-work flag are just two of several ways that the GOP might create a coalition that includes stop-the-steal Republicans without alienating the party’s traditional interests, and that avoids the trap of betting the next election on anger and grievance.

But moving forward productively will require the right leadership. It’s harder to say where that will come from than where it won’t: the former president.

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Missouri Medicaid expansion: Less than a quarter of applicants now covered



Missouri Medicaid expansion: Less than a quarter of applicants now covered

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – It’s been almost a week since the state started processing applications for Medicaid expansion and a top official for MO HealthNet says thousands are now covered.

Last August, Missouri voters approved to expand Medicaid to anyone 19 years and older making less than $18,000. Lawmakers chose not to fund it during the legislative session, but the Missouri Supreme Court ruled the state must move forward with it. The state estimates roughly 275,000 Missourians are eligible under expansion.

Starting Oct. 1, the Department of Social Services (DSS) started processing applications. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the state has received around 17,000 requests to join Medicaid. Less than a week later, only 4,300 Missourians have coverage.

“There are still pending applications in the queue that are being evaluated for their eligibility,” the chief transformation officer of the MO HealthNet Division told Senate members Thursday. “As of two days ago, we had enrolled about 4,300 members in the expansion population. What the next few months look like, senator, is unknown.”

After a special session over the summer to renew the Federal Reimbursement Allowance (FRA), the tax from health care providers that funds Missouri’s Medicaid program, Senate leaders formed a committee to address some members’ concerns over Medicaid funds going to abortion providers, such as Planned Parenthood and transparency issues.

The Senate Interim Committee on Medicaid Accountability and Taxpayer Protection met for a fourth time Thursday since July. Top Medicaid officials testified in front of the committee, fielding questions about the state’s program.

“I have concerns how well MO HealthNet is able to analyze the data they get in,” committee chairman Sen. Bill White (R-Joplin) said. “We need to have our Medicaid system work properly, we need to have the proper tools and we need to not be running on an archaic system.”

Roughly a sixth of the Show Me State’s population is on Medicaid.

Currently, the state’s application process to participate in all benefits, such as food stamps, childcare, and medical is 60-plus pages long but the department plans to streamline that process.

“We’re able to trim our 63-page application down to about 9 or 10 pages,” Mathews said.

Mathews said implementation was delayed but hopes the state will start using the new system the first of the year.

“We intentionally delayed that implementation because of the confluence of expansion,” Matthews said.

Lawmakers like White are still asking for more transparency from the department about the state’s program.

“That data, as the state is paying for that service, is data that is entitled that us as legislators and you as the department, definitely, should be able to analyze if the system is working,” White said. “I’m frustrated that the data isn’t out there for me as a legislator to know if we need to look at things differently.”

Mathews also explained to the committee how the division is working to create a new revenue source for rural hospitals. It would be called the “hospital health hub.” The initiative would be centered around the area’s population, meaning if a hospital helped a patient make the right health choices by referring them to a food bank if needed.

Last month the committee met to discuss changes that could be made to the program, giving DSS the ability to block abortion providers from Medicaid finding for unethical behavior.

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Suspected bank robber shot by police in Colorado Springs is taken to hospital



Suspected bank robber shot by police in Colorado Springs is taken to hospital

A bank robbery suspect was shot by a Colorado Springs officer Thursday in an exchange of gunfire, police said.

The police shooting happened at about 4 p.m. in the area of Palmer Park and Academy boulevards, according to police.

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