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Minnesota halts COVID-19 study after reports of intimidation

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control pulled its federal surveyors out of Minnesota this week after they experienced verbal abuse and intimidation.

Posted: Sep 25, 2020 2:28 PM
Updated: Sep 25, 2020 5:13 PM

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Centers for Disease Control has stopped a statewide door-to-door survey on COVID-19 in Minnesota.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) announced Friday that the CASPER survey which was supposed to last until September 30 was ending and CDC teams will be withdrawn from the state. MDH Assistant Commissioner Dan Huff says CDC survey teams, including ones with people of color, have been reporting hostile receptions and racial slurs. Huff describes the response to the CDC teams as “unprecedented.”

“The enemy is the virus,” says Huff, “not each other.”

In Eitzen, along the Iowa border, one survey team was boxed in by two cars and threatened by three men, including one with a gun. The news comes as Minnesota was downgraded Friday to the “uncontrolled spread” category by a website that tracks each state’s progress toward stopping the spread of COVID-19.

The CASPER survey was focused on 180 locations around Minnesota and designed to help health officials:

- Understand how COVID-19 has spread in Minnesota communities.
- Understand what caused COVID-19 to spread in certain areas.
- Explore how COVID-19 transmission and infection rates differ among regions in Minnesota.
- Identify the percentage of people infected with COVID-19 that have no symptoms.
- Improve health messaging and help stop COVID-19 spread.

Huff says many of the interactions between CDC staff and Minnesotans were positive but survey team members complained of increased anxiety related to field work.

The Houston County Sheriff's Office posted the following on Facebook about the reported incident in Eitzen:

"There are news reports of an incident that occurred last week in Eitzen regarding a confrontation with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) surveyors that were conducting COVID 19 surveys and volunteer testing. The Houston County Sheriff’s Office is now aware that allegations have been made, but at this point cannot confirm or deny the allegations. Unfortunately, we have little additional information at this point other than what has been reported by the news media apparently through MDH. We have requested additional information from MDH but have not yet received the requested information. We have spoken with MDH, but the alleged victims have not contacted our office and at this point we are unsure of their identities and have not spoken with them directly. Obviously the allegations are concerning and wish the surveyors would have immediately reported the incident to law enforcement."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 142311

Reported Deaths: 2472
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin35484995
Ramsey14726372
Dakota10271139
Anoka9344155
Washington636273
Stearns625550
Scott360436
Olmsted340230
St. Louis325874
Wright273116
Clay252944
Nobles234318
Blue Earth21147
Carver18887
Sherburne183122
Kandiyohi18215
Rice170210
Mower154518
Winona133619
Chisago11562
Crow Wing114322
Benton103311
Lyon10306
Beltrami9618
Otter Tail9508
Waseca94510
Todd8967
Polk8364
Morrison8259
Steele8013
Itasca78817
Douglas7744
Nicollet77118
Freeborn7185
Le Sueur6646
Goodhue65111
Martin62618
Becker6214
McLeod6214
Isanti5995
Watonwan5824
Pine5770
Carlton5092
Chippewa4733
Mille Lacs44918
Hubbard4344
Cass4225
Wabasha4141
Dodge4130
Pipestone36617
Meeker3593
Rock3595
Brown3483
Roseau3300
Redwood29912
Yellow Medicine2986
Murray2973
Cottonwood2950
Fillmore2770
Renville27213
Sibley2663
Wadena2643
Faribault2520
Houston2381
Unassigned23853
Kanabec23710
Swift2252
Jackson2211
Pennington2181
Aitkin1982
Stevens1941
Lincoln1930
Koochiching1755
Pope1680
Big Stone1591
Marshall1511
Lac qui Parle1453
Wilkin1454
Clearwater1381
Norman1340
Lake1330
Mahnomen1292
Grant1054
Red Lake822
Traverse590
Kittson530
Lake of the Woods441
Cook190

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 122218

Reported Deaths: 1691
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk19732289
Woodbury743799
Linn6038133
Johnson602431
Black Hawk5974102
Dubuque550658
Scott487343
Story411118
Dallas357347
Pottawattamie337845
Sioux254417
Buena Vista230212
Marshall212236
Webster196015
Plymouth172831
Wapello158962
Clinton156228
Muscatine153958
Des Moines151611
Cerro Gordo150227
Crawford138714
Warren13137
Carroll120413
Jasper119734
Henry11245
Marion106811
Lee101312
Tama100538
Delaware82713
Dickinson7939
Wright7591
Boone7509
Mahaska73824
Bremer7199
Harrison69716
Washington69311
Jackson6853
Benton6482
Lyon5688
Clay5574
Louisa54415
Winnebago52119
Cedar5087
Winneshiek5079
Hardin5017
Jones5004
Kossuth4970
Clayton4923
Buchanan4875
Hamilton4825
Poweshiek47611
Floyd46211
Emmet45321
Iowa4429
Cass4233
Mills4233
Guthrie42015
Page4200
Cherokee4122
Sac4114
Butler4083
Fayette4064
Shelby4022
Allamakee3999
Franklin39518
Madison3743
Chickasaw3731
Hancock3676
Humboldt3593
Clarke3573
Grundy3406
Palo Alto3292
Calhoun3264
Osceola3020
Mitchell2961
Howard2879
Monroe27212
Union2645
Taylor2602
Jefferson2591
Appanoose2503
Monona2492
Pocahontas2442
Fremont2152
Lucas2136
Ida2122
Adair1971
Greene1930
Montgomery1907
Davis1884
Van Buren1882
Keokuk1731
Decatur1620
Audubon1601
Worth1470
Wayne1373
Ringgold992
Adams841
Unassigned60
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