I want to express my appreciation to our government and public health leadership for their efforts to keep Minnesotans safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, and to those individuals and businesses who made economic and other sacrifices.

Has this leadership and sacrifice made a difference?

It is useful to compare Minnesota with its neighbors Iowa and South Dakota, whose leaders chose a more relaxed approach to the pandemic. Many indicators could be analyzed, but the most straightforward is death. The overall death rate from COVID-19, adjusted for differences in the population of each state, is about 45% higher in Iowa and 80% higher in South Dakota. Even if analyzed over just the past week, a time when thankfully the situation is improving, the weekly death rate from COVID-19 is still about three times higher in Iowa and South Dakota.

These data show that the vigorous response of our leaders has saved thousands of lives. This response has had real economic costs that have fallen disproportionally on some, who should not be forgotten as we recover. But I am thankful to live in a state that prioritizes life.

David Warner, Rochester