The state government’s handling of COVID-19 in Minnesota’s care homes has been a disaster, not that you’d know it from the media

On Tuesday, I wrote about how Minnesota had suffered 266.7 Covid-19 deaths per million of the state’s population, a figure which ranks our state 19th highest nationally. I noted how 77.9% of all our state’s Covid-19 deaths came from care home, the fourth largest share of total deaths in the United States. Indeed, as I also noted, 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, our state’s number of Covid-19 deaths per million plummets to 58.9, which ranks us 34th highest nationally.

Simply put, the Covid-19 crisis in Minnesota is primarily a crisis in the state’s care homes.

The same day, Gov. Walz and Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm held a press conference to address the Covid-19 crisis in Minnesota’s care homes. These tweets from the excellent Tom Hauser of KSTP give the highlights:

Gov. Walz might not have been taking a victory lap, but he didn’t need to, the Star Tribune was eager to take one for him. In a story titled ‘Deaths in Minnesota long-term care drop tenfold‘, it reported:

The deaths in long-term care facilities that fueled the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic in Minnesota have dropped tenfold since the state launched an aggressive testing and staffing plan to protect workers and residents.

Three cheers for the state’s plan!

Not so fast. Gov. Walz unveiled his five point plan on May 7th. At that time, according to Department of Health data, Minnesota had suffered 507 Covid-19 deaths, of which 407 – 80% – were in care homes. As of Tuesday, Minnesota had suffered 1,548 Covid-19 deaths, of which 1,189 – 77% – were in care homes. Indeed, since Gov. Walz announced his “aggressive testing and staffing plan to protect workers and residents” of Minnesota’s care homes, 75% of the state’s Covid-19 deaths have come in those same care homes. Is this what success looks like?

Large parts of the Star Tribune story are simply administration talking points regurgitated. This is no way to hold the Walz administration to account for its failure to protect Minnesota’s care homes.

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