Between Gov. Tim Walz’s orders to stay at home, close bars and restaurants, and transition to remote schooling, our state has locked itself down so health care workers can better respond to the spread of the virus. We can’t say for sure what kind of an impact this will have on our health, our economy, and our state’s infrastructure.
We can say, with an abundance of caution, something to the effect of “so far, so good.”
The COVID Tracking Project, which has been compiling state health official data since March 11, has been tracking both the death rates and the number of residents tested in every state. BuzzFeed helpfully put this together in a series of poppy-looking charts, and Minnesota looks pretty good on all of them, as far as anything could be called "pretty good" right now.
When last the data was updated our test rate was around 322 per every 100,000 people, with only 3 percent of the tests coming back positive. Washington was at the head of the pack with 913 tests per 100,00 people (8 percent of them positive), Wisconsin came in just behind us at 307 (6 percent positive), and in last place (if you don’t count U.S. territories) was Delaware at 28 (no positive results).
As for our death rate per million people, we were sitting near the bottom of the list at nine total deaths, with only 12 states and one territory (Puerto Rico) having more luck. North Carolina is in last with only five deaths so far. New York is at the top with 965.
Meanwhile, data compiled on Sunday by CityObservatory, a stats-driven think tank based in Portland, backs up our success so far. On a list of 53 major metro areas (with a million or more people), the Minneapolis-St. Paul area ranks eighth from the bottom when it comes to cases per capita (8.7.) The highest incidence reports went to New York, New Orleans, Detroit, and Seattle.
We also got low scores for our cases’ growth rate, showing a promisingly slow spread of coronavirus in the Twin Cities. You can catch our datapoint in the bottom-left quadrant of this graph.
The Minnesota Department of Health updated our stats on Monday, bumping us up to 576 positive test results, 18,822 completed tests, 92 hospitalizations, and 10 deaths. During Monday’s installment of the government’s daily briefings on the virus, state health officials said approximately 1,100 samples had been tested on Sunday alone, and there was, at that time, “no backlog” in lab testing.
On a related note: Perhaps one of the most distressing reports to emerge during the briefing was that one in five people who test positive in this state are health care workers.
All of these figures should be taken with a grain of salt. As BuzzFeed pointed out, some doctors and nurses are concerned about possible inaccuracies about how we’re tallying death rates, and it’s hard to know exactly how many cases are really out there with a limited supply of testing materials and inconsistent health care coverage.
But there’s still hope among Minnesota’s public health officials that we can “flatten the curve” and weather this as a state—as long as we stay smart about this. To refresh on Walz’s recent stay-at-home order, visit this page.