Gov. Tim Walz’s office is being pressed to immediately provide data that supports the statewide shutdown of fitness centers, restaurants, and bars.
Sen. Eric Pratt, R-Prior Lake, and Sen. Michelle Benson, R-Ham Lake, wrote to the governor because the citizens of Minnesota “deserve to know how decisions are being made.”
Pratt and Benson sent a similar request in December, to which they received a summary of the “governor’s priorities, a description of the bar and restaurant concerns, how outbreaks are determined, and the scripts used by contract tracers.”
Now, they are calling for the Walz administration to provide “specific criteria and data” that was used to make the decision to close fitness centers, bars, restaurants, and lodging amenities in Executive Order 20-99.
Pratt and Benson are also seeking a breakdown of cases by month, county, and source for all cases counted as exposure at a bar, restaurant, or fitness center, including youth activities like gymnastics, dance, and hockey.
The senators note that cases in the hospitality and fitness industries seem to be grouped into either the “Community: Outbreak” or “Community: Known” categories on the Minnesota Department of Health’s website and are not attributed specifically to restaurants, bars, or fitness centers.
The letter also requests an explanation from Walz on why the COVID-19 modeling from MDH has not been updated, when “we have learned so much since the initial model was developed and used to justify the initial business closures and Stay-at Home order.”
According to the Minnesota COVID-19 response website, “Modeling is a way to use what we know about a disease now to help us understand what could happen in the future and how our actions may affect that.”
The latest COVID-19 modeling presentation that is available is dated May 18, 2020.
Part of the 32-page presentation states that “ongoing model updates are needed to reflect the growing understanding of COVID-19 transmission and outcomes.”
Pratt and Benson declare in their letter, “We must be an example to the people of Minnesota who expect us to work together despite our ideological differences.”