Gov. Tim Walz has issued (and now extended) a widespread business shutdown order which has greatly impacted the lives of Minnesotans, causing more than 300,000 jobs to be lost, with attendant noneconomic damage.
This order was premised on results from a model which allegedly showed that up to 74,000 people could die from coronavirus disease in Minnesota. The model has not been released to the public. It needs to be, along with all updates and changes to the original model, including the computer code underlying the model.
Independent experts, and the public, need to understand the basis for such a drastic action as that taken by the governor, so that they can form their own conclusions as to its necessity and advance alternative proposals.
In addition, the governor presumably ordered studies of the potential economic damage and other harms from the shutdown order, so that he could appropriately balance the costs and benefits of potential actions. Those studies also should be released to the public, along with any information on alternative courses of action that were considered.
If no such studies were performed, the governor should explain why.
And the governor should be forthcoming about the basis for his decisions and should explain to Minnesotans his plans for the future.
On what criteria will he lift the shutdown completely?
If infection rates rise after a shutdown is lifted, will he again call for a shutdown of businesses?
How long does he believe the state can endure the consequences of the shutdown?
These and many other questions should be proactively addressed. The actions taken by the governor were unprecedented and have caused unprecedented damage.
Minnesotans are entitled to full transparency on why and how those decisions were made and how and why decisions will be made in the future.
Kevin Roche, of Edina, is a health care consultant.