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Minnesota GOP chair accuses Democrats of 'extreme communist control' amid COVID-19 pandemic

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The playground at Henton Park on the north side of Olivia has been taped off, with signs asking visitors not to use the equipment due to the COVID-19 outbreak. All public playgrounds in Olivia and Willmar have been closed. Shelby Lindrud / West Central Tribune
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ST. PAUL -- The chair of Minnesota's Republican Party on Twitter on Friday, April 3 accused Democrats of using the COVID-19 pandemic, which has infected nearly 800 Minnesotans, as an "excuse for extreme communist control."

MNGOP Chair Jennifer Carnahan tweeted Friday in response to the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board's Thursday announcement that it won't open city beaches, wading pools and water parks this summer because of the viral outbreak.

Carnahan questioned if the board's decision was necessary yet, with summer weeks away.

“Was it necessary for Minneapolis to close the beaches for the summer in early Apr (sic)?" Carnahan tweeted. "Much can unfold, change & transpire between now/then. The Democrats have turned Coronavirus into an excuse for extreme communist control. Wake up people!"

As of Friday, 789 Minnesotans have tested positive for the coronavirus, and Hennepin County, home to Minneapolis, has the highest concentration of cases in the state with 242 confirmed cases. Twenty-two Minnesotans have died of the illness, and 156 have been hospitalized, according to the state Department of Health.

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Democratic Gov. Tim Walz has ordered that Minnesotans shelter in place and avoid leaving home or gathering in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus. Non-essential businesses have been asked to shutter as well. The MNDOH estimates that 32% of confirmed cases were transmitted by community transmission, or indirect contact.

Later on Friday, Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party Chair Ken Martin said in a statement that he was "shocked" that Carnahan "would undermine important social distancing measures to score cheap political points," and called her tweet "ignorant" and "dangerous."

“Political leaders from both parties agree that the COVID-19 outbreak is the worst public health crisis our nation has seen in a century," Martin continued. "In the midst of so much tragedy, uncertainty, and chaos, it is astonishing that the head of the Minnesota Republican Party felt it was appropriate to launch a hackneyed political attack because Minneapolis city officials are trying to keep Minnesotans safe."

Martin said closing Minneapolis's beaches for the summer is "the least we can do" to prevent the virus from spreading further out of control, and that "thousands of people are dying and will die because of the cavalier attitude of people who are putting their own privilege ahead of our community."

Mearhoff is a Minnesota Capitol Correspondent for Forum News Service. You can reach her at smearhoff@forumcomm.com or 651-290-0707.
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