When we elect anyone to represent us at any level of government, it is with the hope that they are going to make decisions which will benefit all of us and they will do so with the best information available to them. Recently, State Senator Mark Johnson has posted unproven conspiracy theories regarding COVID-19 to his social media page, and we need to start asking, “What information Senator Johnson is looking at?”
On April 9th he made a post to Facebook claiming, "Our own state government is perpetuating and exaggerating the dangers associated with the current situation needlessly," and shared a video which directly accused Minnesota of lying to falsely inflate our death totals from COVID-19 in order to control people with fear. No actual examples of this occurring were provided by either the video or the Senator's post.
News of the LM manufacturing plant in Grand Forks and their 140 positive cases broke shortly afterwards. That plant is less than 5 miles away from the front door of Senator Johnson's law office, so I hoped that would help him see the gravity of the situation.
On April 29th the senator shared an article to Facebook which repeated this conspiracy theory that the people who have died of COVID-19 didn't really die of that disease. The article then went further and made the absurd claim that mask usage actually made people less safe.
There is a clear pattern of Senator Johnson not taking this threat as seriously as it needs to be taken. In a letter to Governor Walz, Senator Johnson called for our response to more resemble North Dakota, South Dakota, or Iowa. These are all states who have responded to the virus much more weakly than Minnesota has and the results are clear.
Looking at the CDC data for the number of COVID-19 cases per million residents as of 4/29 we can see the impact of Minnesota's response:
Minnesota - 840
North Dakota - 1,373
Iowa - 2,185
South Dakota - 2,746
For further proof of why this is indeed serious, we can look to the American Military. The Air Force issued a stop motion order in March, freezing everyone at the bases they were at. It was supposed to last until mid-May, but now they are talking about extending it until August. I am a military spouse and I have friends whose husbands aren't coming back from deployment on schedule because of how seriously the Air Force thinks we need to be taking this.
Within this district, we know to take this seriously. In a survey by Public Policy Polling conducted between April 24th-25th, only 27% of people who live in Minnesota's 7th Congressional District felt that Minnesota's response was overreacting. Not only is Senator Johnson's downplaying of the COVID-19 threat demonstrably dangerous, but it also shows how out of sync he is with his constituency.
We elect leaders hoping they’ll make smart decisions using good data. Senator Johnson is making poor decisions with unverified data. That is part of why I'm running for state senate. My background as a science teacher taught me to look at the evidence before making a decision and the evidence currently says we need someone else representing our corner of the state.
Perkins is seeking the DFL endorsement in the 2020 District 1 Minnesota Senate election.