Empower Wisconsin | Aug.3, 2020
By John Hinderaker, Power Line
Have shutdowns to slow the spread of the coronavirus done any good? I doubt it. My guess is that in future years–once President Trump is safely out of office–a consensus will emerge that the shutdowns that U.S. governors have imposed, like the governments of a number of European countries, were a disastrous policy error. I think history will conclude that the shutdowns turned a relatively mild epidemic into a relatively mild epidemic plus a catastrophic economic setback, with adverse health consequences that approached, and may even have exceeded, those of the virus.
In the ongoing debate over whether shutdowns have been useful, a comparison of Minnesota and Wisconsin is a valuable data point. These two adjoining states are of comparable population, demographics, history and geography. A Wisconsinite is basically a Minnesotan without the smugness.
On the coronavirus, the states parted company on May 13, when the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down that state’s “Safer at Home” order. Minnesota, meanwhile, continued under a lockdown, eventually in modified form, to the present day. To an observer, the difference is obvious: Wisconsin is open for business. Minnesotans cross the St. Croix to eat out and hang out in the restaurants and bars on the Wisconsin side of the river. Wisconsin isn’t quite South Dakota, but compared with Minnesota it is a bastion of freedom.
What happened when Wisconsin’s courts lifted that state’s shutdown order? My colleague John Phelan has the story. Liberals associated with Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz’s administration predicted a dire body count. Ken Martin is the Chairman of Minnesota’s DFL party, and Steve Sack is the editorial cartoonist for the DFL’s flagship newspaper, the Star Tribune:
Not sure what's happening with our neighbors to the East, but I am quite certain we will see a huge increase in COVID related deaths thanks to their terrible courts. BTW – @thestevesack is the best political cartoonist in America hands down. @DemStateParties @TheDemocrats pic.twitter.com/rP3Hu2GJLO
— Ken Martin (@kenmartin73) May 15, 2020
Do cartoonists ever issue retractions or apologies? I suppose not. But Martin and Sack couldn’t have been more wrong. John Phelan picks up the story:
Figures from the Minnesota Department of Health and Wisconsin Department of Health Services show that, from May 14th to July 27th, Wisconsin suffered 472 Covid-19 deaths and Minnesota suffered 939, as seen on Figure 1. Again, given the two state’s broadly similar populations – 5.6 million in Minnesota and 5.8 million in Wisconsin – that means a much higher rate of Covid-19 deaths in our state as well as a much higher number. Indeed, between May 14th and July 27th, Wisconsin saw 81 Covid-19 deaths per million residents. In Minnesota, we saw 167 Covid-19 deaths per million residents – a rate 2.1 times higher.
Read more at Power Line.