Federal courts move to video hearings

Minnesota's federal court system can now resume most criminal proceedings through video conferencing, other than full trials. Chief U.S. District Judge John Tunheim issued an order Monday implementing the new procedures for Minnesota. Defendants must consent to the video or telephone conferencing.

Andy Mannix

Pause on high-flying year at Duluth airport

The COVID-19 pandemic is upending a banner year at the Duluth International Airport, with passenger counts soaring, business growing for airfield tenants and runway construction finally finished. "You don't get to pick the timing of a crisis like this," said Tom Werner, executive director of the Duluth Airport Authority. The airport budget largely depends on revenue from passenger flights — many now canceled — and fees from supporting services like rental cars and parking. Werner said $10 billion from the recent federal stimulus package was set aside for airports and will help fill in the lost money.


Twin Cities pianist Herrera hospitalized

Nachito Herrera, the masterful Cuban-American pianist who lives in White Bear Lake, is hospitalized in the Twin Cities with coronavirus. The Dakota, where Herrera has performed regularly since moving here in 2001, made the announcement on Saturday. No further details were available on Monday. A hero in his native Cuba, Herrera, who is in his mid-50s, won the American Heritage Award in 2014, the first Latin musician to receive it since Carlos Santana.


Essentia Health cuts 500 employees

Essentia Health has placed 500 employees on unpaid leave as it runs low on funds before an expected crush of COVID-19 cases. "Like other health care organizations around the country, we are projecting a 20-40% decrease in revenue due to pandemic-related declines in patient volumes," the Duluth-based health system said in a news release Monday evening. "Staffing levels will continually be evaluated and adjusted as needs evolve." Essentia is the largest employer in Duluth with more than 6,000 employees. The leave affects nonmedical employees across the organization, which total 14,500. After the state mandated an end to elective surgeries and nonessential appointments to make room for the fallout of the pandemic, Essentia said it has faced a "significant financial impact." Essentia had already begun restricting new hires and has closed several clinics.

brooks Johnson

Founder of MyPillow speaks at briefing

Michael Lindell, founder of Minnesota-based MyPillow Inc., was at President Donald Trump's coronavirus briefing at the White House on Monday. Lindell said that before Trump was elected, the nation "had turned its back on God," urging Americans to read Bibles during their extended time at home. "God gave us grace on Nov. 8, 2016, to change the course we were on," he said, adding, "Our president gave us so much hope." MyPillow, which is based in Chaska, said recently it is helping manufacture masks for health care workers. Lindell has emerged as a possible 2022 opponent to Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz. He brushed off speculation of a run in 2017, but Lindell now is keeping the door open.