Gazelka and GOP Continue To Play Politics With Pandemic, Public Health
At every turn, Senate Majority Leader Gazelka and the GOP have spread misinformation and mislead the public on the state of the pandemic
Following Governor Walz’s timeline to roll back nearly all state COVID-19 restrictions, Senate Majority Leader Gazelka responded by putting politics ahead of public health. Unfortunately for Minnesotans, this is nothing new for Gazelka and his Republican colleagues, who repeatedly pushed to completely reopen Minnesota during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gazelka has continuously misled the public about the state of COVID-19 at virtually every turn. Almost a year ago, on July 13, 2020, he falsely claimed that “the emergency part of this pandemic is over.” Since this statement, the U.S. has lost more than 440,000 people to COVID-19.
On October 19th, Gazelka pushed for Minnesota to completely reopen and advocated for eliminating all state safety measures. This plan to reopen the state and eliminate COVID-19 precautions came right before Minnesota’s largest surge in COVID-19 cases and deaths to date.
On November 5th, during that surge, Gazelka held a 100+ person, maskless dinner for Senate Republicans, resulting in a COVID-19 outbreak among Minnesota’s Republican lawmakers. As the virus spread, Senate Republicans warned their Republican colleagues about the outbreak but refused to notify their DFL colleagues, even as some lawmakers gathered in person for a special session. One of the State Senators who tested positive for COVID following the maskless dinner was Senator Jerry Relph, who later died from COVID complications. The day before Relph passed away, Gazelka held a press event to call for an end to all COVID-19 safety measures for restaurants.
DFL Party Chairman Ken Martin released the following statement:
“Republican Senator Paul Gazelka has been wrong about this pandemic from the beginning. The precautions and safety measures put in place saved countless lives and are what made it possible to begin safely reopening the state. From advocating for an end to all safety precautions a year ago to holding a maskless superspreader event, Gazelka and his Republican colleagues have put their political agenda ahead of public health every step of the way.”