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What is Gov. Walz doing with his emergency powers?

Yesterday, I wrote about how the numbers on Covid-19 in Minnesota don’t support Gov. Walz’s continued use of emergency powers to rule by decree. Even so, it isn’t clear what good he’s doing with these emergency powers.

Also yesterday, Minnesota Department of Health reported 6 new deaths from Covid-19. This was the lowest number since April 13th, which is welcome news. But, once again, the majority of these deaths  – 67% – came from our state’s long term care facilities. Overall, out of Minnesota’s 1,304 Covid 19 deaths, 79% came from long term care facilities.

We know that Covid-19 disproportionately affects the elderly and those with underlying health conditions so we might not be surprised to see such a high percentage of deaths among the long term care population. But we are doing so much worse than in other states. That 79% figure ranks us third in the United States after New Hampshire and Rhode Island. Minnesota has had more deaths in its long term care facilities than 30 states have had in total.

We are now more than a month on from Gov. Walz announcing his ‘battle plan’ to fight Covid-19 at Minnesota nursing homes. At that time, 81% of all Minnesota’s Covid-19 deaths had occurred in the state’s long term care facilities. In five weeks, Gov. Walz’ ‘battle plan’ has edged that down to 79%. The battle is being lost.

We are in the longest period of emergency government in Minnesota since World War Two. By the time these emergency powers come up for review again in mid-July, normal politics will have been suspended in Minnesota for four months.

If this were necessary to protect us from a grave threat we might begin to justify it. But it is hard to see that that is the case. As I explained yesterday, the numbers show that the pandemic just isn’t ‘exploding’ here in the way that the models which underlie Gov. Walz’ decision making said it would. And where Gov. Walz actually could do some good, in our state’s long term care facilities, he is failing miserably. Unless the situation deteriorates rapidly between now and mid-July, there can be no justification for a further extension of Gov. Walz’ rule by decree.

John Phelan is an economist at the Center of the American Experiment. 

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