As COVID cases climb, masks missing at GOP event near Devil Track Lake
Despite an ongoing health pandemic, Governor Tim Walz is abusing his power and showing Minnesotians what communism looks like in 2020, according to Jennifer Carnahan, president of the Republican Party of Minnesota.
“It’s communism,” Carnahan said near the shores of Devil Track Lake on a cold and rainy summer afternoon in Cook County.
About 20 people attended a local meeting of the Minnesota Republican Party on July 21 that was held as a lunch at Skyport Lodge. Other than two local reporters, hardly anyone wore a mask during the 90-minute event, which was held in a small dining room. A group of older local residents sat almost side by side at several tables located in a U-shape in the small hall throughout the event. Few, if any, social distancing measures were followed, and handshakes between local residents and people outside the county were rife before the event began.
The gathering of local members and some GOP member states took place on the same day Cook County has reported its second confirmed case of COVID-19 in a local resident. As August approaches, the virus continues its march on the North Shore, with Lake County’s total number of cases climbing to 14 on Tuesday and the number in St. Louis County climbing in recent weeks faster than at any other time during the pandemic.
Cook County GOP President Mary Petz occasionally donned a mask during the event, including after she started coughing multiple times at some point during the meeting. Indeed, it was Petz who suggested a week earlier that those present should wear masks. In an email dated July 14, Petz wrote, “We ask that you wear masks, and there will be seats where we can have some space. We are following the recommendations of the Cook County Emergency Operations Center. “
In a statement sent to WTIP on July 22, Cook County Public Health Supervisor Grace Grinager spoke about the lack of masks at the GOP event at Skyport.
“Throughout the pandemic, our country’s fundamental freedom to participate in political processes remains a fundamental freedom,” Grinager said. “The EOC encourages individuals to follow basic public health precautions in all social settings. These include social distancing and wearing masks in areas, especially interior areas, where it is difficult to get away socially. These practices help us keep each other safe and healthy. “
Carnahan, a resident of Blue Earth, who is married to US Congressman Jim Hagedorn, is busy scouring the state during the election campaign as the November elections become increasingly concentrated. In an open question-and-answer session near the end of the meeting, WTIP asked Carnahan in front of the group why she chose not to wear a mask during the event.
“I think wearing a mask is a personal choice for people and they can make decisions based on how they feel,” she said. “As long as there are safe practices and people are healthy, you know, it’s a personal decision.”
Carnahan, surrounded by others who were also not wearing masks, made the statement in an indoor public place a day before Walz made an announcement on a statewide mask warrant. Before WTIP could ask a follow-up question about wearing masks in public as the state continues to see its number of cases increase, a member of the public began talking about “traveling out of state” and the fact that in restaurants “you can take (your mask) at the table” and his belief that the measure “is also effective”.
The event, which the Carnahan team called a “special MN GOP update,” also featured a local candidate running for the District 4 seat of the Cook County Commissioners Council, Dean Berglund. Berglund has spoken openly about his support for the Trump administration and linked it to his candidacy for the county office.
“Everyone I talk to was like ‘you’re a Republican, you’re a Trumper,’” Berglund said. “Yeah, don’t apologize for that.”
Thomas Manninen, a Littlefork resident who challenges outgoing District 3A Rep. Rob Ecklund in the November election, was also in attendance at Tuesday’s event. Manninen spoke briefly with the group, saying his campaign focused on ‘bringing the North back’ and his desire to distract from the regional politics of the Twin Cities.
Meanwhile, it was the lack of masks and disregard for physical distancing among those attending the GOP-sponsored event that stood out as the specific recommendations from local, state and local health officials. federal. Carnahan’s statements about wearing a mask as a “personal choice” came a day after President Trump declared wearing a mask “patriotic.” He followed up on that statement a day later – just hours after the GOP event ended at Skyport – by saying people should wear them if they’re in a group.
“If you’re close to each other, if you’re in a group, I would put it on when I’m in a group,” Trump said, according to one. July 21 article in the New York Times.
“Get a mask,” Trump said Tuesday, according to the Time. “Whether you like the mask or not, they have an impact. They will have an effect and we need whatever we can get.
The Soundcloud file shared below includes audio from Tuesday’s GOP event at Skyport Lodge.