Mayor supports music festival in North Dakota

FARGO, N.D. — The mayor of the city that was once the hot spot for the coronavirus in North Dakota is supporting an annual outdoor music festival set to go on as planned this weekend.

The 25th Fargo Blues Festival is scheduled Friday and Saturday at Newman Outdoor Field, home to the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks of the American Association baseball league. It usually draws up to 2,000 music fans.

Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney is a member of a task force that was assembled two months ago when North Dakota’s largest city saw a spike in virus cases.

He says the show should go on because the virus numbers in the city have dropped thanks to increased testing and contact tracing.

He cites statistics showing that Cass County, which includes Fargo, has held steady with a daily positive rate of 2% for 60 days.

Idaho governor calls special legislative session

BOISE, Idaho — Idaho Gov. Brad Little says he’ll call the part-time Legislature back into a special session in late August due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Republican governor in a statement on Wednesday says the special session will start during the week of Aug. 24 and possibly include how to conduct the November general election.

The special session could also include legislation creating a liability shield for protection against lawsuits during declared emergencies such as the pandemic.

A timeline calls for lawmakers to give the governor specific legislation by mid-August. Little would then issue a proclamation on Aug. 17 detailing the exact issues to be considered.

Alaskan cruise ship turns back due to virus

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The first cruise in an already decimated southeast Alaska cruise season came to a devastating end Wednesday when a small ship carrying 36 passengers had to return to Juneau because one of the guests had tested positive for COVID-19.

Once the Wilderness Adventurer returns to Juneau, the city says all 36 guests will quarantine at a hotel and the 30 crew members will quarantine on the ship.

The loss of large cruise ships has been devastating to Alaska’s tourism economy this summer.

Large cruise ship companies canceled their seasons, which was a big hit for a tourism industry that had anticipated 2.2 million visitors, many of them on cruises.

Michigan governor declares racism a public health crisis

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has announced additional steps to combat racism, declaring it a public health crisis.

Whitmer has ordered state employees to complete implicit bias training as the state confronts what she called systemic inequities highlighted by the coronavirus pandemic. The governor also created an advisory council of Black leaders on Wednesday.

Black people account for 39% of Michigan’s nearly 6,500 confirmed and probable deaths related to COVID despite making up 14% of the population. In cases where race and ethnicity are known, the infection rate among Black residents is 14,703 per 1 million compared to 4,160 for white residents.

Chicago classes to be solely remote

CHICAGO — Chicago’s mayor says the nation’s third-largest school district will rely only on remote instruction to start the school year.

The city’s decision to abandon its plan to have students attend in-person classes for two days a week on Sept. 8 came amid strong pushback from the powerful teachers union and as school districts around the country struggle with how to teach their children during the coronavirus pandemic.

— The Associated Press