Minnesota death rate within 0.1 percentage point of maskless neighbors

Minnesota's COVID-19 death rate is 0.1%. Neighboring states that do not require masks have death rates ranging from 0.1%-0.2%.

Lorie Shaull/Flickr

None of the states that border Minnesota currently have mask mandates, yet all of them have comparable coronavirus death rates.

Gov. Tim Walz first declared that residents of his state are required to wear masks in public in late July 2020. Recently, he announced that his order will remain in effect until July 1 or when 70% of Minnesotans are vaccinated. After nearly one year of masking, however, Minnesota does not have a significantly lower coronavirus-related death rate compared to its neighboring maskless states.

Based on publicly available data accessed 5/7/2021.
Based on publicly available data accessed 5/7/2021.

Ten percent of Minnesotans have contracted COVID and 0.1% of the state’s population has perished in relation to the disease, according to the most recently available statistics accessed on May 7. This death rate is on par with the national average.

Meanwhile, Wisconsin reports the same death rate of 0.1% and an infection rate that is only one percentage point higher.

Wisconsin lifted its mask mandate after the state’s Supreme Court blocked the Democratic governor from issuing a new one, per USA Today. Wisconsin businesses have also been subjected to less severe restrictions throughout the pandemic.

Some claim that it’s unfair to simply compare coronavirus outcomes across states as each locality is subject to a different set of circumstances. However, Minnesota and Wisconsin are very similar across dozens of measurable metrics, with Wisconsin having a slightly higher population spread across a smaller area.

North and South Dakota report the same death and infection rates of 0.2% and 14% respectively. Iowa reports a death rate of 0.2% and an infection rate of 11%.

While these numbers are slightly elevated compared to Minnesota, they are improving at a much faster rate. North Dakota abandoned its mask mandate shortly after the start of 2021 and Iowa followed suit not long after. Since then, the number of reported coronavirus cases in those states has fallen 16% and 50% respectively, per COVID Clarity, which is run by a Minnesota-based statistician using CDC data.

This chart shows the decline in reported coronavirus cases in Iowa and North Dakota compared to Minnesota’s increase. (Image source: Twitter/@covid_clarity)

Presently, the U.S. is split down the middle on the question of mask mandates. Twenty five states maintain their mask mandates while an equal number have abandoned the measure, according to U.S. News and World Report.