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Minn. Guard called in for COVID outbreaks at two nursing homes

In a troubling sign of COVID-19’s resurgence, the Minnesota National Guard has been called in to provide emergency staffing support at two nursing homes struggling to contain large and deadly outbreaks of the respiratory disease.

Over the past 10 days, the National Guard has dispatched small teams of medical professionals to facilities at opposite ends of the state where dozens of residents and staff have been sickened, and where staffing levels became so depleted that they turned to the state for help. Both facilities — one in the southern Minnesota city of Austin and the other on the Iron Range in Hibbing — have active outbreaks and are isolating infected residents in separate COVID-19 units.

The rare deployments come amid an alarming resurgence of COVID-19 across the region and amid mounting evidence that the virus is infiltrating Minnesota’s 2,100 long-term care facilities after declining over the summer. They also reflect how the virus is shifting toward smaller facilities in rural areas where staffing shortages are more severe.

With cases rising statewide, public health experts fear a repeat of the chaotic scenes this spring, when some senior homes became so overwhelmed they had to move residents to hospitals and get support staff to fill in as caregivers because so many employees were infected and had to be quarantined.

The use of rapid testing and stricter isolation techniques have reduced coronavirus-related fatalities in Minnesota’s senior homes since their peak in May. Even so, the list of such facilities with at least one confirmed infection in a resident or worker in the past 28 days has grown from 239 on Sept. 1 to more than 340, the state Health Department reported last week. Slightly more than 70% of Minnesota’s 2,151 coronavirus deaths have occurred in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities.

“There’s just a

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Battle Creek Air Guard Base completes $5.1M renovation to support cyber and air operations

A $5.14 million renovation project is complete at the Battle Creek Air National Guard Base.



a group of people standing in front of a brick building: Lt. Col. Terry Brennen, 217th Air Component Operations Squadron commander, from right to left, Col. Shawn Holtz, 110th Wing commander, Brig. Gen. Bryan Teff, Michigan Air National Guard commander, and Lt. Col. Daniel Guy, 110th Wing Mission Support Group commander cut the ribbon on a newly renovated building at the 110th Wing, Battle Creek Air National Guard Base, Battle Creek, Michigan, Oct. 2, 2020. The newly renovated building will house operations for the 272nd Cyber Operations Squadron and the 217th Air Component Operations Squadron.


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Lt. Col. Terry Brennen, 217th Air Component Operations Squadron commander, from right to left, Col. Shawn Holtz, 110th Wing commander, Brig. Gen. Bryan Teff, Michigan Air National Guard commander, and Lt. Col. Daniel Guy, 110th Wing Mission Support Group commander cut the ribbon on a newly renovated building at the 110th Wing, Battle Creek Air National Guard Base, Battle Creek, Michigan, Oct. 2, 2020. The newly renovated building will house operations for the 272nd Cyber Operations Squadron and the 217th Air Component Operations Squadron.

State Sen. John Bizon and ranking members of the Michigan Air National Guard held a ceremony Friday to open facilities for cyber and air operations support in Africa and Europe.

The renovations in the 22,789-square-foot building on the base will house the 272 Cyber Operations Squadron and the 217 Air Component Operations Squadron.

Formation of the cyber squadron was announced in 2015, one of 12 air guard installations in the country which will detect and protect the Department of Defense against electronic attacks. The unit was activated in January 2018 and employs 70 people.

The base has about 1,000 employees.

“Our primary role will be in support of the Department of Defense and statewide,” Col. Bryan Teff, then base commander, said five years ago. “Right now we experience millions of cyber attacks each day against the Department of Defense. We will defend networks and infrastructure when it comes to cyber communications. We will be focusing on the defense of that.”

No a Brigadier General and commander of the Michigan Air National Guard, Teff was present for the ceremony and said the renovation of the building will provide the men and women assigned to the squadrons to “fully execute

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Battle Creek Air Guard Base completes $5.1M renovation

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A $5.14 million renovation project is complete at the Battle Creek Air National Guard Base.

State Sen. John Bizon and ranking members of the Michigan Air National Guard held a ceremony Friday to open facilities for cyber and air operations support in Africa and Europe.

The renovations in the 22,789-square-foot building on the base will house the 272 Cyber Operations Squadron and the 217 Air Component Operations Squadron.

Formation of the cyber squadron was announced in 2015, one of 12 air guard installations in the country which will detect and protect the Department of Defense against electronic attacks. The unit was activated in January 2018 and employs 70 people.

The base has about 1,000 employees.

“Our primary role will be in support of the Department of Defense and statewide,” Col. Bryan Teff, then base commander, said five years ago. “Right now we experience millions of cyber attacks each day against the Department of Defense. We will defend networks and infrastructure when it comes to cyber communications. We will be focusing on the defense of that.”

No a Brigadier General and commander of the Michigan Air National Guard, Teff was present for the ceremony and said the renovation of the building will provide the men and women assigned to the squadrons to “fully execute

Continue Reading