Mike Moen, Public News Service — ND

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After states like Arizona and Florida saw coronavirus surges over the summer, peaks are now happening in states like North and South Dakota. (Adobe Stock)

BISMARCK, N.D. — The Midwest has seen higher levels of COVID-19 activity in recent weeks, and that includes North and South Dakota. And health officials say all parts of the region need to be mindful of community spread.

The Dakotas now top the nation for new novel coronavirus infections, based on their seven-day averages per 100,000 people.

Shelly Ten Napel, CEO of Community HealthCare Association of the Dakotas, said that’s a more important measuring tool than just the raw numbers for each county.

“You see some of the more rural counties really being the hardest hit,” said Ten Napel. “And so, I think that per-population number is really important, because it shows the true spread of the epidemic.” …


Mark Richardson, Public News Service — AZ

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Studies show as many as one in four voters say they don’t always trust the accuracy of the news stories in their social media inboxes. (Drobot Dean/Adobe Stock)

PHOENIX, Ariz. — For anyone who uses social media, it’s a fact of modern life that some of the stories that come your way as news are either partially or totally false. With the presidential election just weeks away, media watchers say voters can expect to receive a flood of news items featuring candidates and issues.

So, how can you tell if it’s accurate information, misinformation — or just plain fake? …


Diane Bernard, Public News Service — VA

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Nearly 75% of Americans in the latest AARP survey are worried that Social Security will run out of money by the time they retire. (Adobe Stock)

RICHMOND, Va. — As the Trump administration threatens to reduce the payroll tax that’s a primary funding source for Social Security, a new report shows a majority of Americans believe the program is more vital than ever in the pandemic.

More than 1 million Virginians receive Social Security benefits, and the AARP report found that 96% of those surveyed called it “essential” and said it needs to continue.

David Debiasi, AARP Virginia associate state director, said more retirees already were struggling to pay for health care and other basic needs before the COVID-19 crisis — and the pandemic exacerbates that struggle. …


By Jennifer Cross for TheConversation.com

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A CSU professor says after taking her sociology course, about one in four students reports they’ve learned to be “more tolerant of people who are different from me.” (Gorodenkoff/Adobe Stock)

By Jennifer Cross for TheConversation.com
Broadcast version by Lily Bohlke for Public News Service
Reporting for TheConversation.com-Colorado News Connection

FORT COLLINS, Colo. — Many Americans are asking how they can be more sensitive to members of different racial groups, a desire fueling sales of books like “How to be an Anti-racist,” and the presence of “Hate has no home here” signs in front yards. But how to achieve that goal is anything but clear.

I am Jeni Cross, a sociologist at Colorado State University, and I’ve found an effective approach in my course Social Production of Reality. …


Mike Moen, Public News Service — WI

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Civil unrest over high-profile police shootings is getting a lot of attention on the campaign trail, but activists say it doesn’t mean anything if it doesn’t result in significant change. (Adobe Stock)

KENOSHA, Wis. — President Donald Trump is expected to visit Kenosha today in response to the tensions over the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Wisconsin Democrats have urged Trump not to visit the area, while others say it’s time for real change, not just a political fight.

The shooting of Blake — a Black man whom officers shot several times in the back — and subsequent protests have fueled debate over civil unrest that has led to destruction of property, and how these protests are escalated by outside oppositional agitators.

Rick Banks, political director at Wisconsin’s Black Leaders Organizing for Communities, said it’s clear Republicans, through their “law and order” rhetoric, aren’t seeking to calm things down. …


Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service — OR

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Protests for racial justice have continued every night in Portland for more than three months. (David Geitgey Sierralupe/Flickr)

PORTLAND, Ore. — A fatal shooting in Portland over the weekend has left tensions high across the country.

The shooting took place on Saturday after a pro-Trump caravan rolled through the city. The man shot was wearing a shirt and hat identifying the far-right group Patriot Prayer.

Eric Ward is executive director of the Western States Center, which follows extremist groups in the West and is headquartered in Portland. He said our institutions have been unable to respond adequately to the recent violence at protests.

“All of these deaths and injuries are preventable. They are unnecessary,” Ward said. “They are symptomatic of the failure of civil society and democratic structures to rise above the bias and confusion of ‘both-siderism.’” …


Mary Schuermann Kuhlman, Public News Service — IN

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Dust can absorb potentially harmful chemicals found in disinfectant cleaners. (Adobe Stock)

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Some disinfecting cleaners being used to prevent the spread of COVID-19 actually could leave behind potentially dangerous chemicals.

Scientists from Indiana University compared dust samples collected from residential homes in June 2020 with previous samples collected in 2018 and 2019.

Report co-author Amina Salamova, associate research scientist for the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University-Bloomington, said a class of chemicals called “QACs” that are used as disinfectants were found in much higher concentrations in the samples collected after the outbreak.

She said elevated exposure to QACs has been linked to increased risks of asthma and skin irritation. …


Mike Moen, Public News Service — WI

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Rabbi Bonnie Margulis is one of 57 faith leaders in Wisconsin to sign a letter organized by a national faith group, demanding the Trump administration end policies that are viewed as harmful to immigrant children. (Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice)

MADISON, Wis. — Faith leaders from across the country say it’s time for the U.S. to end what they call inhumane treatment of immigrants and their families.

Nearly 450 of these leaders, including many from Wisconsin, have issued a letter to Republicans demanding change.

The message was sent to delegates and President Donald Trump as the Republican National Committee gathered for this week’s nominating convention.

The letter focused on the administration’s “zero tolerance” policy surrounding the detention of migrant children who were separated from their families.

The Reverend Ryan Eller, founder and executive director of the New Moral Majority, said Republicans need to step away from their anti-immigrant agenda. …


Nadia Ramlagan, Public News Service — AR

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Election security experts say there’s a possibility foreign governments could interfere in the 2020 General Election by tampering with state voter registration databases. (Adobe Stock)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Amid concern foreign governments could interfere in the 2020 general election, a new survey finds state voter-registration databases are more secure than in 2018.

Almost twice as many states now require multi-factor authentication and passwords that are at least eight characters long, and nearly all states are monitoring voter-registration database log-in attempts.

Executive Director of the Center for Election Innovation and Research David Becker said voter-registration databases drive almost every aspect of elections.

“Whenever someone wants to vote by mail, that information is checked against their voter file, their voter registration record. When someone goes to check-in at a polling place, they are checked against their voter registration record. If someone receives information about upcoming elections, that’s all based on the voter registration record,” Becker said. …


Mike Moen, Public News Service — WI

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Both major parties in Wisconsin have been at odds over how to approach police-accountability policy. Those divisions remain following the police shooting of a Black man in Kenosha. (Adobe Stock)

KENOSHA, Wis. — Protesters continue to demand justice over the police shooting of a Black man in Kenosha over the weekend. And Democrats in the Legislature say the incident underscores the need for immediate action on police accountability measures.

Groups such as Black Lives Matter and other activists say the Kenosha police officers who shot Jacob Blake multiple times in the back should be charged. Police fired their weapons when Blake tried to enter his vehicle while walking away from them during a domestic-disturbance call.

State Rep. Christine Sinicki, D-Milwaukee, said while the investigation still needs to play out, it’s clear from witness videos the level of force officers used was unnecessary. …

Public News Service

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