Minnesota Legislature

Minnesota state Sen. Scott Jensen

(The Center Square) – Minnesota state Sen. Scott Jensen, R-Chaska, said that the death count for COVID-19 might be artificially inflated.

A physician as well as a politician, Jensen said doctors are being encouraged to attribute COVID-19 as a cause of death without laboratory testing.

In an April 7 interview with Chris Berg on Point of View, Jensen said he received a letter on Friday from the Department of Health telling him and other physicians to attribute COVID-19 as a cause of death without laboratory testing.

Jensen is referring to a case in which an 86-year-old patient died.

That patient had pneumonia and had been exposed to COVID-19, but was never tested for it.

COVID-19 should be written on that patient’s death certificate, the letter read.

Jensen said that was irregular; most death certificates only include facts, not presumptions.

“If someone has pneumonia and it’s in the middle of a flu epidemic, and I don’t have a test on influenza, I don’t diagnose influenza on the death certificate,” he said.

Jensen said this concerned him because those numbers might go into Minnesota’s models that have been used to justify an extended stay-at-home order, but that’s uncertain because the models haven’t been released to the public.

“When we start talking about going into the data that goes into the modeling, we have to ask ourselves the question: are we being forthright? Are we sharing with the public?” Jensen said.

Jensen said artificially inflated numbers can cause fear that also can paralyze people’s ability to think for themselves.

“Fear is a great way to control people,” he said. “And I worry about that. Sometimes we’re so darn interested in just jazzing up the fear factor that sometimes people’s ability to think for themselves is paralyzed if they’re frightened enough.

“That’s not where I want people to be. I want people to say, ‘We’re going to get through this. I’m going to use my head. I’m going to go to different sources. I’m going to listen to different sources. I’m going to think for myself,'” he said. “Because that’s what’s America’s about.”

The U.S. Department of Labor data estimates 111,119 Minnesotans have lost their jobs since the pandemic.

Gov. Tim Walz on Wednesday extended Minnesota’s stay-at-home order through May 3, citing data that he hasn’t publicly released, although reporters have requested it several times.

Walz initially estimated that 74,000 Minnesotans could have died if the state took no action to curb COVID-19.

Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm on Wednesday said that because of social distancing and other state action, the projected death count on a low to moderate scale ranged from 6,000 to about 20,000.

The Minnesota Department of Health announced Thursday that it would provide an overview of state COVID-19 modeling to reporters at 11 a.m. Friday.

Staff Reporter

Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.