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Legislative Update from Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen

Monday, June 15, 2020

Dear Neighbors,

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on vulnerable Minnesotans and those living in long-term care facilities. To date, 1,034 of Minnesota’s 1,304 COVID-19 deaths have taken place in a nursing home or long-term care facility. That equates to 79% of all deaths.

This begs the question, why has Minnesota experienced such a high death rate in its nursing homes?

First, we know that elderly Minnesotans are uniquely susceptible to COVID-19. Individuals aged 70 or older, total nearly 82% of deaths in Minnesota. On the flip side, there have been only 25 deaths total among Minnesotans aged 50 and younger. That equates to about 1.9% of all deaths.

Second, Governor Walz has continued a harmful practice that allows COVID positive patients to be returned to nursing homes. According to reporting from the Star Tribune, state records show that Minnesota hospitals have discharged dozens of infected patients to nursing homes, including facilities that have undergone large and deadly outbreaks of the disease.

It cannot be disputed that this practice has directly resulted in hundreds of deaths of elderly Minnesotans. So, while Governor Walz shuts down the entire state, effectively tanking our economy and destroying thousands of businesses, he is failing to protect the most vulnerable among us and instead putting them at risk.

On Friday, House Republican Leader Kurt Daudt spoke about the tragedy occurring in our nursing homes. In his speech, he shared a lot of important data that demonstrates the urgent need to act to protect our seniors. You can watch his speech here:

Governor Walz’s failure to protect nursing homes is just the latest example of his failed coronavirus response and another reason that the state’s peacetime emergency must end. Unfortunately. Governor Walz wants everyone to believe that it will be a disaster if his emergency powers go away.

However, the data tells a different story. 

Nearly a month ago, the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down Governor Evers’ executive orders, ending the restrictions on Wisconsin’s economy. 

A month later, here is a comparison between Wisconsin and Minnesota. This data was taken last week so numbers may have changed by the time you read this:

  • Total Cases: Minnesota: 28,224 cases (510 cases per 100,000). Wisconsin: 21,038 cases (361 cases per 100,000).
  • Deaths: Minnesota: 1208 deaths (21 deaths per 100,000). Wisconsin: 646 deaths (11 deaths per 100,000).
  • ICU: Minnesota: 198 currently in ICU. Wisconsin: 110. 
  • Positive Test Rate: Minnesota: 4.1%. Wisconsin: 3.04%.

It is abundantly clear that the Governor’s strategy isn’t working, and he cannot justify extending his emergency powers. The model he’s basing decisions on is failing spectacularly. Wisconsin’s economy opened a month ago, and they have a lower death rate, a lower-case rate, and fewer people in the ICU. 

It is time to end the arbitrary restrictions, protect our long-term care residents, and begin the process of safely reopening and rebuilding our economy. 

Have a great week,


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