I sat in disbelief Friday as Gov. Tim Walz and members of his staff, during a live-streamed press conference, continued to pull at the emotions of a state held at home for more than seven weeks now, in what I see as the single-largest scam perpetrated on Minnesotans. Our economy is ruined. Virile, young citizens of an always-hearty state are wincing at the thought of potential certain death should they touch a doorknob.

When Walz went against over 200 years of historical data, not only of health department basics in battling viral outbreaks but of constitutional law, by ordering the healthy citizens of Minnesota to lock down at home — including closing all bars and restaurants in the state — he had to be surprised at the lack of protest. It had to make him wonder, as dictators in history have, how much can I get?

The statistics were clear way before our state’s first infection. Both in Europe and in New York, health department data showed that the coronavirus targeted the sick and elderly while leaving the healthy and young mostly alone. The flu, which has become yesterday’s news compared to its trendy cousin COVID-19, affects the young, sick, and elderly.

With demographic data being so important in the fight of viruses, I wonder how the state Health Department can classify the “Race and Ethnicity” of 38% of all positive tests and 28% of all deaths as "Unknown/Missing." When a third of any pie chart of a very detailed and important data collection is unknown, it comes off as an attempt to hide results. In this instance, a lack of information could lead to further infections and deaths, particularly in communities of minorities in the high-risk group.

Walz's constant referencing of the total number of positive tests, or “cases,” also seems a contrived tool of hype. Positive tests are what you want in an antibody test. Those positive can then become immune from infection. I wonder how many of the positive tests in the numbers are of this type. Also, if hospitalization rates are as minimal as Minnesota’s, it shows that infections were minor and those patients, too, may be immune.

Let's take the recovered and those with antibodies off the daunting daily tote boards because their numbers are useful only for panic. We should use infection rates on the daily positive charts instead. The daily numbers mean nothing without knowing how many tests were administered.

Likewise, under the state’s listings of “Likely Exposures” and “Type of Residence,” nearly half of the demographic data is indicated as “Missing/Unknown." And the number of patients in long-term care that account for the total of hospitalizations and intensive-care stays is not included.

It would be interesting to know how many souls were subjected to the horrible experience of ventilation simply for the extra Medicare dollars health care providers can garner. Providers are paid, on average, $40,000 for each ventilator use. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association — the largest-ever such study, conducted in New York City between March 1 and April 4 — 88% of 2,600 ventilator patients died. If over the age of 65, 97% died. Doctors have found that placing patients in the prone position is a better treatment than the highly invasive and deadly ventilator technique. It just doesn’t pay as well, it seems.

This information is vital in the battle against the coronavirus, but it does not seem to fit the narrative being produced by Walz that has kept our state paralyzed for two months.

I urge readers to go to the Minnesota Department of Health’s website to reach their own conclusions. The COVID-19 stats and the historical flu stats, presented in a week-by-week format, certainly paint a picture. On March 27, when Congress passed the CARES Act and gave extra money to providers and state governments based on volumes of COVID-19 cases, the flu all but disappeared from the data. The numbers clearly show that the flu has been both historically and recently much more damaging, on a year-by-year basis, than COVID-19. But the end of March this year suddenly meant the end of the flu and of flu tests in Minnesota? I guess when Walz kept emphatically stating that, "This is not the flu," he failed to tell us that the data was rigged in COVID-19's favor.

Walz, emergency powers fully intact, no longer had the pesky Legislature arguing against his will. He announced deaths as if they were occurring on Main Street when he knew, as did members of his staff, that many deaths were the result of, for the first time in history, his decision to order that the healthy shelter at home, leaving the sick to be ravaged by this virus. Herd immunity is a long-known, basic principle. Knowledge of the virus' effects on the sick and elderly dictates that patients be protected by quarantine.

When asked by reporters in late March for a list of facilities with outbreaks, Walz and Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm refused to answer, citing patient privacy laws, even though there are no privacy laws protecting the names of buildings. They even refused to name the cities where the facilities were. This data was not released until April 2, a full five days later. This information would seem to be of utmost importance in an outbreak — unless it doesn't fit into a narrative you have created.

A large share of hospitalizations and 83% of deaths related to COVID-19 in Minnesota have been from nursing homes. That is staggering. But not so if the public is duped.

Perhaps Walz feared his push last May for a $68 million cut in reimbursements for elder-care facilities would come into question if the ties between nursing homes and COVID-19 were more widely known. Walz’s proposed $68 million cut had already taken heat, including in a March 26, 2019, Service Employees International Union news release, in which elder-care worker Jeanne Schulz warned, “The lives of thousands of Minnesotans across our State depend on (that $68 million).”

Statewide, six deaths have occurred in people under 50 years of age. People under 50 make up 70% of Minnesota’s population. A total of 28 deaths has occurred to people in their 50s, 61 deaths have occurred to people in their 60s, and a whopping 463 deaths have occurred to people over 70, according to the Minnesota Department of Health. Every death involved a person who was already sick.

I question blaming COVID-19 for the death of a 109-year-old, as state data indicates, and the median age of deaths as 83. If you grab onto a tree branch while falling over a cliff, and the branch breaks, was it the tree that killed you?

Walz and Emergency Management Director Joe Kelly defended the purchase of a $6.9 million warehouse for bodies supposedly about to line our streets. I could understand that price only if they were planning condo build-outs for every corpse.

The arrogance level of Walz and his health administration has been over the top. Walz, a former football coach, suddenly knows what is best for all?

They shut down the dentistry industry for safety. They apparently felt all-knowing enough to tell doctors of dentistry, after years of studying subjects such as biology and anatomy in both undergraduate and medical schools, that they do not know enough about viral infections to protect their patients and themselves. Now that's power.

I know the truth: I am more likely to win the lottery than die of this disease. I am opening my bar on May 18, the expiration date of Gov. Walz’s stay-at-home order. And I’m doing so whether Walz extends his order or not. No more bull.

And if the Legislature wants to pass a bonding bill, perhaps it should be in the form of reimbursements for closed retailers’ lost sales, based on the same period of sales tax remittance from last year.

The governor has single-handedly ruined the economy and the psyche of our state. The Germans protested in the streets. They have witnessed fascism firsthand. Never let a crisis go to waste. This crisis has been nothing but waste.

Walz says to go fishing but without crossing state lines. Apparently, COVID-19 recognizes geographic borders.

I can see the day when the governor will blame the economy for the lack of resale value on his $6.9 million refrigerated corpse warehouse. Consider this quote from Stephen Moore, co-founder of the Committee to Unleash Prosperity and a member of President Donald Trump’s council to reopen the country: “Our analysis shows quite clearly that the states that open up the soonest and the safest — and Iowa and Oklahoma and Georgia are three examples of states that are doing that — will have much swifter and stronger recovery than states that stay closed. … The major reason for that is because businesses cannot go another month without revenue. … If they stay closed for another month, month and a half, you’re (going to) have body bags of businesses that will never recover.”

The governor’s coup needs to be over. Constitutional rights need to be restored, not only to citizens but to legislators, whose job it is to balance decisions, thus preventing catastrophic mistakes in judgment. Keeping the state handcuffed is a mistake being made every day.

Dan Lowe is the owner of Club Saratoga in Duluth’s Canal Park.