A group of rural Minnesota lawmakers want the governor to reconsider his one-size-fits-all approach to addressing the coronavirus pandemic.
Mazeppa doesn’t require the same restrictions as Minneapolis, the lawmakers argued in a letter sent to Gov. Tim Walz last week.
“As members of the Republican Rural Caucus, we stress the importance of Minnesota’s diversity. This is a state of varying population densities, economies, and communities; and although all Minnesotans’ day-to-day lives are being upended, the cost to rural Minnesotans is even higher relative to the risk of COVID-19,” the letter states.
The letter calls on Walz to reconsider his extension of the stay-at-home order and allow rural communities to reopen.
“Rural and urban communities have different risk profiles and should not have the same restrictions,” the letter continues. “Our neighboring Midwestern states, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Nebraska, have yet to order statewide stay-at-home restrictions. They have issued orders based on the risks different communities face. Like Minnesota, these neighboring states have urban centers as well as rural regions and are effectively protecting lives from COVID-19 with a multifaceted approach.”
The data, if broken down on a county-by-county level, show a “concentration of cases in the Metro and stress on this specific region of Minnesota,” the legislators say in their letter.
“If you continue to use data as support for your executive orders, please utilize all the data you have at hand, showing rural communities have significantly fewer cases and cause for concern,” the letter concludes.
A total of 44 Republican lawmakers from both the House and Senate signed the letter, including Sen. Mark Johnson (R-East Grand Forks), who said in a statement that a “blanket order for the entire state may not be the appropriate response.”
“We recognize the tremendous public health crisis that Minnesota is facing and the evolving situation the governor’s administration is handling,” he said. “But we urge Gov. Walz to recognize that Greater Minnesota has a much lower population density than the metro area, and will ultimately have a different risk profile.”
According to the Department of Health, Hennepin County leads the state in COVID-19 cases with 806 confirmed cases. Ramsey County has the second-most cases in the state with 178 as of Friday. With 2,071 confirmed cases statewide, Hennepin County’s caseload accounts for 39 percent of all cases in the state. There are currently 14 counties in rural Minnesota with no confirmed cases of COVID-19.
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