Killing Them Softly: Covid-19 “Management” in Minnesota

Minnesota- the land of 10,000 lakes, known for its vibrant arts and music community, sometimes unpredictable weather, a safe place to live, and “Minnesota Nice”. Or that’s how it used to be anyways. The state wasn’t perfect before 2020, but now droves of native Minnesotans are leaving for states that are all around healthier. Why? The ongoing mismanagement of the Covid-19 pandemic controlled unilaterally by the freshman state governor, Tim Walz.

Tim Walz was elected MN Governor in 2019, his term was almost immediately faced with the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020. At that time, Walz and the legislature invoked a little used “peacetime emergency” law to address the pandemic statewide. The initial rhetoric was “decisions need to be made quickly” and the state went on a “two week lockdown” to “flatten the curve”. During the lockdown, any non essential business was closed, including schools and houses of worship of all types. Allowed to stay open were liquor stores, gas stations, pharmacies, grocery stores and “big box stores”- such as Target and Walmart. Critics of the lockdown argued the logic of leaving big box stores open. Critics also argued that a more complete lockdown with measures in place to deliver medications and food to households were not put in place, thereby somewhat negating the supposed effect of the lockdown. People with cabin fever went to Target daily.

However, the lockdown did not end after two weeks. It didn’t end after four weeks. It didn’t end after 8 or 12 weeks. The lockdown lasted until July 13, 2020. That is four months that people were told to “stay at home”. Many businesses struggled to survive the extended lockdown. Many did not survive. The unemployment level in Minnesota last year doubled- and stayed that way for the entire year and into the next.

One may argue that this was necessary to prevent the spread of Covid-19. However, no data was being collected on the effectiveness of shutting down small businesses and isolating people for this length of time. Comparing data between Minnesota and Wisconsin- which has a higher total population than Minnesota and in which there was no “emergency” declared, has followed an identical (and sometimes LESS rates of Covid infection and deaths).

What HAS been recorded and is becoming more and more apparent is that states without masks and lockdowns are faring BETTER than Minnesota both in terms of controlling the spread of Covid-19, which has significantly decreased since November 2020, according to the Minnesota Department of Health, and continues to be much lower than the apparent peak of the pandemic in Minnesota last winter. Note that this occurred BEfORE the availability of vaccines. Months before, in fact.

Governor Walz has just extended his emergency power to mandate lockdowns, mask wearing, and whatever else he sees fit to control yet again on Friday, marking more than 13 months of continuous unilateral control of the state. His reasoning? That if his control ends, Minnesota would lose federal money in food support.

Why do so many Minnesotans need food support? Or so many more than 2019? Because unemployment has sharply increased in the general population almost doubling in a single year. Many businesses that have survived the lockdowns are restricted in capacity by up to 75% of the number that they would otherwise be able to accommodate.

Data has shown that the number of suicides in Minnesota has increased in the last year to 48%, well over the national average of 37%. Suicide rates among youth have doubled in the past year. Many mental health organizations have recognized that this is the result of lack of access to care and persistent isolation. Rates of suicide have also markedly increased in the elderly presumably for the same reason.

The Minnesota Department of Health has yet to identify the number one source of transmission of Covid-19, although again, the numbers continue to be significantly lower than the peak six months past. Wisconsin recently ended any sort of mask mandate- with the result of continuing to have less cases than Minnesota.

Conclusion: the focus needs to be on reviving the economy and restoring the Minnesota legislature to include the voices of all our representatives. The Governor has refused time and again to relinquish his one man control over the state. The “measures” that have been implemented are not only not working, but they are killing Minnesotans and crippling the economy.

Published by kristinatehrani

Born a first generation American, half Irish Catholic and half Persian Jew, I like to write about a childhood mired in the chaos of never knowing where I stood. The only constants in my life have been reading, writing and a passion for social justice. I am a nurse, a single mother, a domestic abuse survivor, radical feminist and outspoken advocate for logic, public health, gray areas, and purposeful dialogue. I know entirely too much about sociopaths, autism, and medieval British history. I write under a pen name to protect the privacy of my family.

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