Walz COVID-19 plan continues to show success

Minnesota has weathered the devastating pandemic better than any other state in the Upper Midwest. Credit goes to Gov. Tim Walz and his health experts, as well as the people of Minnesota who did everything that was asked of them to slow the spread of the virus.

Health care providers and organizations as well as researchers at the Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota were also strong partners in the effort, and they too, deserve credit.

As we near the end of the pandemic — and yes, Walz and other experts are describing “an end” — we should look back on the lessons learned and take pride in the fact that when community health was at risk, our communities stood up to be counted as part of the battle.

Since the beginning of the pandemic Minnesota has the lowest per capita case rate and lowest per capita death rate of any state in the Upper Midwest, according to the CDC. By far.

Minnesota’s death rate is 116 per 100,000 residents. Wisconsin’s is 121, Iowa’s 174, South Dakotas’ 213 and North Dakota’s is 190. Minnesota’s case rate per 100,000 is 8,625, compared to Wisconsin at 10,633, Iowa at 10,703, South Dakota at 12,754 and North Dakota at 13,131.

Walz has often emphasized to Minnesotans, until all were sick of hearing it, that keeping all the mitigation measures in place, social distancing and wearing a mask would serve us well. And it has. There’s no doubt about this. Businesses were able to stay open as a result.

And as the vaccines roll out, Minnesota is again doing well. Vaccines are expected to hit 50,000 a day soon. Providers, public health and pharmacies are vaccinating Minnesotans as fast as the vaccines are available. Minnesota is in the upper third of states for vaccination distribution.

Many other Midwest states came nowhere near to public health precautions Minnesota implemented. And their citizens paid the price for policies that seemed motivated by politics more than public health. Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, both Republicans, were the worst offenders.

Walz has been criticized for renewing emergency orders, with GOP legislators saying they need to be more involved. We think that would be a bad move, and a recipe for the gridlock for which the GOP is known. Walz actually made several proposals last year to share the power with caveats for safety, but Republicans mostly rejected the offer.

Again, Walz was successful because he developed a partnership with the University of Minnesota, Mayo and players like Health Partners. But the biggest factors were the people of Minnesota.

If we can just keep safe practices in place a few weeks longer, we can look forward to Twins games and the State Fair.

— Mankato Free Press


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