ST. PAUL, MN – Senator Michelle Benson (R- Ham Lake), Chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, released a statement by video on the dramatic increase in overdose deaths reported by the Minnesota Department of Health yesterday.
Partial Transcription: This time last year we were warning that shutdowns were going to cause grave harm to Minnesotans and their mental health. Separating people and isolating them does cause damage. And it might not show up as COVID deaths, but it certainly is related to COVID. …today we got confirmation from the Minnesota Department of Health; there was a 27% increase in overdose deaths in Minnesota through the period of COVID shutdowns. If we look at the chart from the Minnesota Department of Health we will even see in June and July, when things started to open up? Overdose deaths dropped. We know that letting people connect, opening our economy, is going to have a positive impact on mental health and reduce the risk of overdose.
Last week Senate Republicans passed an HHS bill that funds mental health and substance abuse needs. An amendment was offered by Benson that would allow an increase in mental health and substance abuse hospital beds. The amendment was passed and included in the final bill, however, 25 DFL senators voted against the amendment. (April 29, 2021, pg. 4045 of the Senate Journal.)