Wisconsin is faring far better that Minnesota amidst the coronavirus pandemic despite imposing fewer restrictions on public life.
Wisconsin has reported 39% fewer COVID-19 deaths than Minnesota and just 1.4% more cases as of August 20, despite having a 35% higher population density and significantly more relaxed restrictions on public life.
Data regarding each state’s population density can be located via Statista. Wisconsin houses 5.822 million people with a population density of 107.3. Minnesota houses 5.64 million people with a population density of 70.5.
1,067 Wisconsin residents had succumbed to coronavirus as of August 20 compared to Minnesota’s 1,745 virus-induced deaths. Wisconsin has issued 1,161,527 tests for the virus yielding 68,233 positive results. Minnesota has administered 1,322,220 tests, to discover 67,308 cases. Both states find that between 5-6% of tests administered result in a COVID-19 diagnosis.
On Friday, Wisconsin reported one new death while Minnesota reported eight, bringing the total to 1,753, which is 685 more deaths than Wisconsin.
One factor contributing to Minnesota’s relatively higher rate of coronavirus deaths when compared to its eastern neighbor could be the state’s controversial policies regarding nursing homes (long-term care facilities). Rather than keeping elderly patients diagnosed with COVID-19 in the hospital for the entirety of their battle with the virus, Democrat Gov. Tim Walz promoted a policy that sees them sent back to nursing homes while they still have the disease.
Critics say this policy could be why 74% of Minnesota’s COVID-19 deaths have occurred in long-term care facilities as of August 20, according to the state’s health department.
“It makes no sense to bring more COVID-19 patients into facilities that have already failed to protect them,” Republican state Sen. Karin Housley, the chairwoman of the Senate Family Care and Aging Committee, remarked in May, per the Star Tribune.
However, Walz sees no issue with the idea of sending elderly Minnesotans infected with coronavirus back into nursing homes. “This was not a mistake,” he said, remarking on the policy, the Duluth News Tribune reported.
While both Wisconsin and Minnesota have issued orders that citizens are not allowed to go in public bare faced, Wisconsin was much quicker to reopen. Although Wisconsin’s Democrat Gov. Tony Evers issued a stay at home mandate, the state’s Supreme Court overturned this ruling in mid May, effectively allowing businesses to reopen as usual.
Minnesota, on the other hand, has not moved to check the powers of Walz, who issued a series of extensions to his business closure and stay at home orders. Minnesota restaurants and other public businesses stayed closed longer than those in Wisconsin.