Minnesota’s statewide door-to-door random COVID-19 survey, which we reported on earlier this month, has been stopped due what the Star Tribune reports as “multiple incidents in outstate Minnesota of residents intimidating and shouting racial and ethnic slurs at state and federal public health survey teams”.

The volunteer survey’s initiative, as explained by health officials earlier in September, was a joint effort between the CDC and Minnesota Department of Health to “better understand how COVID-19 is spreading in Minnesota and how it is affecting people.”

At the launch of the initiative, Dr. Ruth Lynfield, MDH state epidemiologist explained “With a new virus, we have to learn as we go and adapt our response based on new data. Information we gather in this survey will allow us to refine our recommendations to best meet the needs of our Minnesota communities in the prevention of COVID-19.”

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Less than a month in, it has been halted due to safety concerns for those conducting the door-to-door survey. The CDC made the decision to pull their surveyors out of the state over a number of reports of intimidation, verbal abuse, and the use of racial/ethnic slurs. In one particular case pointed out by the Star Tribune, three men at a home in the Southern Minnesota town of Eitzen threatened a survey team at a home, with one of the three men having a gun. The survey team was allowed to leave, and they made the decision not to file a police report.

While state health experts say they expected some pushback, most of that was anticipated to be in the form of people refusing to submit to a test. Participation in any aspect of the survey, including testing, was voluntary as a part of the survey effort.

While the CDC declined comment to the Star Tribune, a representative from the Minnesota Department of Health explained that most of the incidents leading to the stoppage of the survey occurred in more rural areas outside of the Twin Cities. They identified central and southern Minnesota as primary locations for the occurrences.

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