Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As your state representative, I was initially supportive of Governor Walz’s original emergency powers response to the COVID19 pandemic to give hospitals the time they needed to get equipped to deal with an influx of patients. However, the data has come in and it no longer supports the shutdown of a significant portion of our economy or the stay at home order for healthy individuals. Yet, Governor Walz has continued to retain his emergency powers and exclude the legislature in his decision making.
Citizens should understand that when Governor Walz extends his emergency powers, this gives him the unilateral authority to spend $2.5 billion of federal aid without legislative oversight or approval. If Governor Walz continues this shutdown and slow rolls its opening there will be severe consequences and deaths in our state.
Decades of research have shown that loneliness and isolation are associated with high blood pressure, chronic inflammation, weakened immune systems, and a host of other health issues. (Washington Post, March 31)
The public needs to know that seven neighboring states without the shutdown order, including Iowa, North Dakota, and South Dakota, all have a much lower death rate per million of the population. In addition, Governor Walz’s order has led to a 15.5% unemployment rate; much higher than the seven states who do not have a shutdown order.
All deaths are tragic and we must do what we can to protect the most vulnerable, specifically the elderly. The Minnesota Department of Health reports that 80% of the over 575 deaths in Minnesota have occurred in nursing homes or long-term care facilities and another 19% had underlying health conditions.
This raises the question; why didn’t Governor Walz prohibit patients who had tested positive for COVID-19 from being admitted into nursing homes where the disease can be easily spread and cause death to vulnerable residents?
We need to protect our most vulnerable but never in the history of the U.S. have we quarantined healthy individuals.
In early April, the Walz administration released two models that sought to project how COVID19 would impact the state from an infection and death perspective. One model included a stay-at-home order for all citizens and a second model assumed that businesses and the economy would remain open while also securing the most vulnerable. Both models predicted the same number of deaths and yet Governor Walz continued with his stay-at-home order which is crippling our state economy.
We can open Minnesota’s economy and practice safe behaviors without big government dictates that have gone so far as to shutting down high school graduation ceremonies held outside and practicing social distancing. Please call Governor Walz at 651–201–3400 and respectfully urge him to open the economy and protect our most vulnerable.
Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen