What if Minnesota’s COVID-19 deaths struck the state’s smallest towns and communities first? How many Minnesota communities which would no longer exist due to COVID-19?
February 14, 2021: Minnesota’s COVID-19 Deaths
COVID-19 has killed 6,111 people in Minnesota (MDH, confirmed deaths) and 482,536 people nationwide (CDC) as of February 7, 2021. And yet the magnitude of death is hard to fathom. The population of Minnesota is 5,680,337 people. While 6,111 is a lot of dead mothers, brothers, partners, and people, comparing those individual losses to the faceless sense of mass humanity belittles the loss. Yet there is power to be gained by visualizing on a geographic scale.
Arbitrary Boundaries Are Important
The artists and architects of the Minnesota Vietnam Memorial certainly understood this. Located south of the Minnesota Capitol, the Memorial replicates the iconic wall of the national Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C. The Minnesota Vietnam Memorial adds a geographically distinct Minnesota twist. The memorial plaza is surfaced with 68,000 granite squares in the shape of the North Star state. Each square represents a Minnesotan Vietnam vet. 1,120 of the squares are dark green, one for each of the Minnesotans Killed-In-Action or Missing-In-Action. Each dark green square’s location on the plaza map of Minnesota marks the hometown of a Minnesotan who did not return.
In memorialization, where a person is from weighs more than where or how they died.
Lacking the hometowns of all 6,111 Minnesota COVID-19 deaths, what if we could geographically group and plot them onto municipalities? The Washington Post back in November visualized COVID-19 deaths on the national scale. The volume shows whole swaths of the country emptied of people. The Post did a similar visualization in September 2020 if all deaths were centered around your house. For Minnesota, giving the losses a hypothetical geographic location creates an understanding that the individuals lost shared more than a cause of death. They all lived in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
Below is a map designating the 144 Minnesota communities which would no longer exist if the 6,111 Minnesota fatalities from COVID-19 all lived in the same cities and townships. If they all lived within the same municipal boundary, International Falls would be a ghost town. If they all lived in the same county, Grant County would revert to wilderness.
And here is (hypothetically) an in memoriam listing of those communities with their former population.
|February 7, 2021 (Initial Post)|
|Aldrich, City of||42||Alvwood Township||39|
|Anthony Township||50||Balsam Township (Aitkin Co.)||38|
|Barry, City of||13||Bassett Township||47|
|Battle Township||54||Beaver Township (Aitkin Co.)||43|
|Big Woods Township||37||Boxville Township||30|
|Boy River, City of||51||Brandt Township||53|
|Bray Township||56||Brislet Township||45|
|Browns Creek Township||45||Camp 5 Township||29|
|Campbell Township||53||Cannon Township||12|
|Caribou Township||43||Cedar Mills, City of||45|
|Champion Township||46||Clow Township||42|
|Cornish Township (Aitkin Co.)||32||Correll||30|
|Croke Township||60||Davis Township||25|
|Donnelly Township (Marshall Co.)||16||Doran||42|
|Dovray, City of||55||Eagle Point Township||11|
|East Park Township||26||East Valley Township||43|
|Espelie Township||37||Farley Township||43|
|Farwell||50||Florence, City of||38|
|Foldahl Township||60||Fork Township||8|
|Funkley||10||Good Hope Township (Norman Co.)||40|
|Gorton Township||53||Grand Plain Township||54|
|Grattan Township||41||Gully, City of||58|
|Hammond Township||48||Hampden Township||41|
|Hamre Township||15||Hangaard Township||5|
|Helgeland Township||56||Hill Township||22|
|Hillman, City of||40||Humboldt, City of||39|
|Ihlen||52||Johnson, City of||27|
|Kinbrae||16||Lee Township (Aitkin Co.)||48|
|Lee Township (Beltrami Co.)||56||Leonard||40|
|Libby Township||52||Lind Township||48|
|Linsell Township||32||Lockhart Township||50|
|Long Lost Lake Township||42||Louisburg||37|
|Manchester, City of||50||Manston Township||40|
|Mayfield Township||45||McCauleyville Township||59|
|Meadows Township||38||Minnie Township||22|
|Mizpah||52||Moose River township||25|
|Ness Township||55||Nilsen Township||55|
|Nore Township||57||North Ottawa Township||50|
|O’Brien Township||59||Palmville Township||36|
|Park Township||30||Parker Township (Marshall Co.)||33|
|Parnell Township (Traverse Co.)||52||Parnell Township (Polk Co.)||54|
|Pelan Township||42||Percy Township||26|
|Pohlitz Township||27||Polonia Township||31|
|Pomroy Township (Itasca Co.)||45||Prairie Lake Township||47|
|Rockwell Township||52||Russia Township||25|
|Sargeant, City of||56||Seavey Township||54|
|Sinnott Township||19||Skane Township||49|
|South Red River Township||22||Spring Brook Township||39|
|Spruce Grove Township (Beltrami Co.)||56||St. Joseph Township (Kittson Co.)||59|
|St. Vincent, City of||51||St. Vincent Township||48|
|Tegner Township||39||Teien Township||55|
|Thief Lake Township||39||Third River Township||54|
|Thorpe Township||53||Tintah, City of||57|
|Tintah Township||30||Toqua Township||51|
|Veldt Township||35||Verdon Township||37|
|Westport, City of||54||White Pine Township||32|
|Winchester Township||48||Wolf Lake, City of||60|
|February 14, 2021|
|Tanberg Township||60||Walls Township||60|
The list was constructed by taking the Minnesota Department of Health’s count of confirmed COVID-19 deaths and comparing it with the Minnesota Department of Administration State Demographic Center’s estimate of the number of people living in Minnesota’s cities and townships as of 2019, the most recent list until the 2020 U.S. Census numbers are released.
“Minnesota’s COVID-19 Deaths Visualized” was originally published on February 8, 2021.
- February 8, 2021: Deaths – 6,038; Single Municipality – Corcoran; County – Grant; 142 Communities.
- February 14, 2021: Deaths – 6,111; Single Municipality – International Falls; 144 Communities (added Walls and Tanberg).
The COVID-19 Pandemic Is Not Over
144 Minnesota communities. 6,111 Minnesotans. The COVID-19 pandemic caused Minnesota’s highest annual death count and has already taken almost six times as many lives as the war in Vietnam. Let’s remember those lost and work to prevent greater causalities.
Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Physically distance. Get vaccinated.