Coronavirus In Five States (5)

I have periodically taken a look at the coronavirus numbers for the five-state Upper Midwest region. See here, here, here, and here. The Upper Midwestern states offer interesting comparisons because they are similar in most ways, but their governors have followed quite different paths in dealing with the Wuhan virus.

For this comparison, I got current fatality numbers from each state’s Department of Health, looked up each state’s population, and computed the death rate for each state. These are the numbers:


Fatalities: 722
Population: 5,640,000
Death rate: 0.00013


Fatalities: 453
Population: 5,822,000
Death rate: 0.00008


Fatalities: 351
Population: 3,155,000
Death rate: 0.00011

North Dakota

Fatalities: 43
Population: 762,000
Death rate: 0.00006

South Dakota

Fatalities: 44
Population: 885,000
Death rate: 0.00005

The state with the harshest shutdown order, Minnesota, has the worst death rate. South Dakota, the one state in the U.S. that never ordered a shutdown of any kind has the lowest death rate in the region (although virtually indistinguishable from North Dakota’s).

Minnesota has greater population density than North and South Dakota, with a relatively major urban center. No doubt that accounts in part for its higher death rate. For what it is worth, I expect that the more rural states’ death rates will tend to catch up as the virus makes its way more slowly through their populations. But that doesn’t explain why Minnesota’s death rate is significantly higher than that of Wisconsin, an equally urbanized state. For whatever reason, Minnesota is an outlier, and not in a good way.

The bottom line, in any event, is that there is no basis for concluding that the nature and extent of the shutdown orders in these states have had any impact on the states’ COVID fatality rates.

The other obvious fact about these numbers is that the death rates are astonishingly low. Our lives have been turned upside down by the Wuhan virus and governments’ reactions to it, and yet you need to go to the fourth or fifth decimal place to find fatalities. The Black Death, it isn’t.