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How do Minnesota’s Covid-19 numbers compare?

How well is Minnesota dealing with Covid-19? The most recent data from the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity allow us to take stock of where we are.

These data show that Minnesota has suffered 266.7 Covid-19 deaths per million of the state’s population. This ranks our state 19th highest nationally and, as Figure 1 shows, is worse than our neighbors, Iowa, Wisconsin, South Dakota, and North Dakota.

Figure 1: Covid-19 deaths per million

Source: Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity

A striking statistic is that Minnesota’s care homes account for 77.9% of all our state’s Covid-19 deaths. This is the fourth largest share of total deaths in the United States, as Figure 2 shows. Indeed, Minnesota has had more Covid-19 deaths in its care homes – 1,172 – than 30 states have had in total. If we strip out care home deaths, as Figure 3 shows, Minnesota’s number of Covid-19 deaths per million plummets to 58.9, which ranks us 34th highest and puts us below our neighbors Iowa, Wisconsin, and South Dakota.

Figure 2: Covid-19 deaths in care homes as a share of all deaths

Source: Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity. Missouri does not break down its numbers. 

Figure 3: Covid-19 non-care home deaths per million

Source: Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity. Missouri does not break down its numbers. 

What these numbers show us is that Minnesota’s Covid-19 outbreak is largely confined to its care homes. Outside of those, our state is faring much better than average. The policy response must be tailored accordingly.

The state government has failed horribly in our care homes, a situation which persists nearly three months after Gov. Walz announced a Five-Point Plan for protecting Minnesota’s long-term care residents and workers. Policy must focus on remedying this failure.

Given the relative safety of Minnesota with respect of Covid-19 outside of its care homes, it makes little sense to pursue blanket policies across the state. These include mask mandates or economic shutdowns.

Throughout this pandemic, the state government has made much – not always very plausibly – about how it is being guided by ‘the data’ and ‘the science’. In both cases, the direction policy should take is clear.

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

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