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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUND-UP: Flu remains widespread in Minnesota

ST. PAUL - The state Health Department reports flu activity remains widespread in Minnesota.

The weekly update shows the number of flu-related hospitalizations continued to drop last week, but more schools reported probable outbreaks. There were 84 confirmed flu-related hospitalizations statewide. Nineteen schools reported likely outbreaks, up from 10 the previous week. There was only one report of a flu outbreak in a Minnesota nursing home last week. That compares to five a week earlier.


The Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis says any delay in reported a suspected priest sex-abuse case to authorities was caused by efforts to get permission from the victim's mother to speak with police -- what church officials say was considered "privileged communication" under Minnesota law. Archdiocese spokesman Jim Accurso says officials got in touch with police immediately after receiving that waiver. A spokesman for the Saint Paul Police Department says they're examining the documents but it's premature to say whether they'll re-open the case. Just the day before that new information came to light, Ramsey County chief prosecutor John Choi indicated archdiocese officials would *not* face charges because it couldn't be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that they delayed in reporting alleged priest sex-abuse to authorities.


Minnesota-based CHS Inc., formerly Cenex Harvest States, is donating $75,000 to help families affected by the propane shortage. The farmer-owned cooperative is contributing $25,000 to the Salvation Army's HeatShare program and 25 thousand to the Keep Wisconsin Warm Fund. The CHS Foundation is also designating 25-thousand dollars to the Red Cross to support its efforts to provide shelter and assistance to families with propane challenges. Officials say CHS is working with its customer marketers to manage propane deliveries and stretch supplies for critical home heating use.


State officials say more than 80 Minnesotans called the new propane hotline Thursday on its first day of operation. The State Emergency Operations Center is staffing the hotline from 9am to 4:30 pm Monday through Friday to help residents during the propane shortage and price spike. Representatives can answer questions about heating assistance and connect homeowners with local resources and programs (800-657-3504).


A Monticello woman has died from injuries sustained in a January 18th crash with an ambulance in Wright County. Officials say 51-year-old Marilyn Paumen was driving an SUV that collided head-on with an Allina ambulance in Buffalo Township. The ambulance driver and a paramedic were seriously injured. A patient in the ambulance was not hurt in the crash. The cause remains under investigation.