A Minnesota youth sports group presented state legislators with a series of emails showing Gov. Tim Walz and his administration scrambling to justify pandemic restrictions on youth sports.
Youth sports were initially banned in Minnesota on March 27, 2020. The state began to loosen restrictions on May 21. Then, on November 18, as COVID-19 cases began to surge throughout the country, Walz reissued his ban on youth sports. Parents pushed back, and Walz eventually modified his order to allow some sports as long as participants and spectators wore masks.
On February 8, a youth sports advocacy group with more than 26,000 members called Let Them Play Minnesota sought an injunction against the mask order under the Equal Protection Clause and Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The emails surfaced during the course of that complaint.
An email dated November 16 has drawn particular attention.
“You raise an interesting question — what data do we have to support evidence-base [sic] in youth sports transmission,” wrote Jayne Griffith, a senior epidemiologist. “At this point, there isn’t much.”
Another email from a political consultant suggested the state try to tie youth sports to COVID-19 deaths at long-term facilities.
At the legislative hearing when the emails were presented, Minnesota State Sen. Michelle Benson (R-Ham Lake)said the emails are embarrassing.
“There is data, then there is a decision, then there is communication,” Benson said. “It’s not, ‘we need a message.’ Go find me the data that matches it.”
Helping Some, Hurting Others
Restricting activity on those least at risk of dying from COVID-19 has been a huge mistake, says Twila Brase, the co-founder of Citizens’ Council for Health Freedom.
“Every American is suffering at the hands of power-hungry officials who’ve specialized in placing unconstitutional restrictions on Americans under the guise of public health and safety,” Brase told Health Care News. “Meanwhile, real-life evidence about the physical, financial, economic, and emotional damage of lockdowns, masking, and imposed isolation are dismissed as unimportant. This is a crime against everyone from the elderly to the young.”
Requiring student-athletes to wear masks while competing has been a particular sore spot with parents and participants. A video showing a masked high school sprinter in Oregon collapsing has prompted some states to revise mask mandates for competing athletes.
Ashley Bateman (firstname.lastname@example.org) writes from Virginia.