Skip to main content

Minnesota's coronavirus death rate compared to other Midwest states

Through April 26, the coronavirus has proved fatal for 286 Minnesota patients.

It only takes simple math to see that more than 7 percent of all Minnesota patients to have a laboratory confirmed case of COVID-19 have died. 

But health officials in Minnesota claim that this doesn't accurately portray the situation because until recently most tests for the new coronavirus have been reserved for residents of long-term care facilities, healthcare workers and hospitalized patients. 

In total, 286 of 3,816 patients to be confirmed to have had the virus have died, and 223 of the 286 fatalities were residents of long-term care facilities. State health leaders expect the death rate for confirmed cases to level off as testing increases.

Screen Shot 2020-04-27 at 11.16.28 AM

"One thing that we want to acknowledge is that our testing in Minnesota, when we were at the point of limited testing resources, we were focusing on the highest risk populations," said Kris Ehresmann, director of the Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention, and Control Division at the Minnesota Department of Health.

"The majority of our testing was being done in long-term care settings. Our population was not representative of the broad population in Minnesota. We were oversampling in our long-term care settings where we have the most vulnerable individuals and where we would expect to see the greatest number of deaths."

Nonetheless, Ehresmann's explanation doesn't reference the fact that many other states have also prioritized testing for the most vulnerable amid nationwide shortages in testing supplies.

Wisconsin, for example, gives highest priority for testing to those in long-term care and other congregate living situations, as well as those in the ICU with respiratory failure.

It's also noticeable that Minnesota's death rate in long-term care facilities is high compared to other states. Deaths in long-term care account for about three-quarters of Minnesota's total deaths, while in Wisconsin they account for about one-third.

It should be noted that Minnesota's death rate when compared to confirmed cases is much higher than what the actual rate is, because there are possibly up to 100 times as many undiagnosed cases of COVID-19 in the state, with most of those people recovering from the disease. 

Comparing death rates of Midwest states based on population

A better way to look at Minnesota's death rate compared to other states is to multiple the number of COVID-19 deaths by 100,000, divided by the state's population, which is approximately 5.64 million people. Through that calculation, you can determine deaths per 100,000 residents. Here's how Midwest states compare: 

  • Illinois: 14.8 deaths per 100,000 residents (1,874 deaths)
  • Indiana: 12.5 deaths per 100,000 residents (844 deaths)
  • Ohio: 6.1 deaths per 100,000 residents (711 deaths)
  • Minnesota: 5.1 deaths per 100,000 residents (286 deaths)
  • Wisconsin: 4.6 deaths per 100,000 residents (266 deaths)
  • Kansas: 4.1 deaths per 100,000 residents (120 deaths)
  • Iowa: 4.0 deaths per 100,000 residents (127 deaths)
  • Nebraska: 2.7 deaths per 100,000 residents (53 deaths)
  • North Dakota: 2.0 deaths per 100,000 residents (16 deaths)
  • South Dakota: 1.1 deaths per 100,000 residents (10 deaths)

Effectively, there is no evidence of COVID-19 being deadlier in Minnesota than it is in other states. 

"We've perhaps been more successful than other states in preventing deaths among the general population," said Jan Malcolm, commissioner of the state health department. 

Minnesota's goal in the next 2-3 weeks is to ramp up testing to 20,000 per day. Testing has increased slightly over the past week, with five consecutive days resulting in between 2,200 and 2,850 tests. 

"We hope that we'll get to the point that we're testing everyone that needs to be tested," said Ehresmann. 

Next Up

Payton Willis / Gopher Basketball

Gophers improve to 5-0 with win over Jacksonville

The Gophers are establishing momentum early in the season.

Anthony Edwards

Ant's massive slam leads Timberwolves to fifth straight win

The dunk didn't count, but provided the highlight of the night.

Cam Talbot / Minnesota Wild

WIld arrive late, Cam Talbot stays on point to beat Devils

Despite a 30-minute delay, the Wild picked up a 3-2 victory.

Screen Shot 2021-11-24 at 4.10.54 PM

Appeal to find 35-year-old missing from Oak Grove home

Police say he's not believed to be in danger.

vote, election

7 MN Republicans urge states to audit 2020 election results

There has been no evidence of significant fraud in any single U.S. state.

child vaccine pexels

How many MN kids age 5-11 have received a COVID vaccine dose?

The governor says the state has one of the highest child vaccination rates in the U.S.

police lights

Seven juveniles arrested in connection with stolen vehicles in Woodbury

Woodbury authorities have issued a warning following a spate of auto thefts.

police lights squad car dark - Unsplash

1 dead after driver crashes into stalled vehicle on shoulder

The vehicle stopped on the side of the road was unoccupied at the time.

Everson Griffen Vikings dot com

Update: Vikings say Griffen is out of his home, 'getting the care he needs'

After hours in his residence, the 33-year-old exited "without incident," the team said.

The search involved several local public safety agencies, including a State Patrol helicopter unit and a K9 team.

Woman, 22, dies in crash just outside Brainerd

Another woman was injured in the collision.


SARS-CoV-2, novel coronavirus

94 deaths from coronavirus in Minnesota after 7 more reported

The cases included all that were confirmed through 4 p.m. Wednesday, April 15.


Coronavirus death toll in Minnesota surpasses 500

It's been 63 days since the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in Minnesota.


Monday update: 14 more deaths, 214 new cases of coronavirus in MN

More than 1,800 patients have recovered from the disease in Minnesota.

SARS-CoV-2, novel coronavirus

Minnesota reaches 700 COVID-19 deaths, ICU cases rising

Minnesota has now exceeded 700 deaths from the disease caused by the new coronavirus.

heart monitor, hospital

What health officials have learned about COVID-19 deaths in MN

As of Tuesday, medical records of 146 of 405 hospitalized COVID-19 patients in Minnesota have been evaluated.

PPE, coronavirus, covid-19

Coronavirus: 24 more deaths in Minnesota, rise of patients in ICU

The numbers represent all data released by the state health department through 4 p.m. Friday.


114 new cases, 8 more deaths from coronavirus in Minnesota

The totals in this story are reflective of all data reported through 4 p.m. Tuesday, April 14.

novel coronavirus, covid-19, sars-cov-2

Coronavirus death toll in Minnesota rises by 13 Sunday

The numbers represent all confirmed cases from the latest reporting period, which ended at 4 p.m. Saturday.