BRAINERD, Minn. — Minnesota governor hopeful Scott Jensen spoke out against masks at a Saturday, Sept. 11, event organized by members of a private Facebook group against masking in Brainerd Public Schools.

Jensen, a family practice physician and former Minnesota state senator, addressed an audience at the Northern Pacific Center in Brainerd, Minnesota, at an event organized by Brainerd Parents Union. The Brainerd School Board put an indoor mask mandate in place for all students, staff and visitors to district facilities, beginning in late August, eliciting backlash from some parents.

“You have seen an intrusion into your rights at a level you can’t imagine possible,” Jensen told the crowd Saturday, praising those in attendance for standing up for their children and their freedoms.

“The assessment you made was that you would rather live with risky freedom than safe bondage,” he told the crowd. “This is the way humans are wired. We know there’s no guarantee. We get to — just because the average age is 80 years of age, we don’t get 80 years guaranteed of life. Our life might be stomped out by a car accident at 27, or we might live to be 107 and wish that we hadn’t lived the last seven years. I’ve been on both sides of that equation with my patients. But a risky freedom stands far taller than safe bondage.”

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live
Newsletter signup for email alerts

A crowd gathered Saturday, Sept. 11, at the Northern Pacific Center in Brainerd listens to Dr. Scott Jensen, a 2022 candidate for Minnesota governor, speak against the use of masks to prevent COVID-19.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch
A crowd gathered Saturday, Sept. 11, at the Northern Pacific Center in Brainerd listens to Dr. Scott Jensen, a 2022 candidate for Minnesota governor, speak against the use of masks to prevent COVID-19. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

He said the risk of dying from COVID-19 for those under age of 20 is statistically zero. According to state-level data reports collected by the American Academy of Pediatrics, data from 45 states showed children made up 0.27% of all COVID-19 deaths.

Secondly, he said, transmission from students to teachers is almost zero. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “multiple studies have shown that transmission within school settings is typically lower than — or at least similar to — levels of community transmission, when prevention strategies are in place in schools.” The CDC also reported higher staff-to-staff transmission rates than student-to-staff, staff-to-student or student-to-student.

Thirdly, surgical and cotton masks only filter a small percentage of viral particles, and lastly, Jensen said, the size of COVID-19 particle is 0.1 micron, compared to the pore size in cotton and surgical masks, which is 5 microns.

“And that’s why I have said repeatedly that if you think a 5 micron pore size can filter out 0.1 COVID particles, you are the same person who is going to put a chain link fence around your yard to keep the gnats out. It doesn’t work,” Jensen said.

The World Health Organization and other health officials, meanwhile, state while viral particles alone may only be 0.1 micron in size, the virus is transmitted by attaching to significantly larger respiratory droplets.

N95 masks are designed to filter out at least 95% of particles 0.3 microns in size, according to the CDC, but particles of that size are what they are least efficient in protecting against. Instead, they are better at filtering particles that are either larger or smaller than 0.3 microns.

Attendees gather to hear speakers at an event Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, which included Dr. Scott Jensen, a 2022 candidate for Minnesota governor, at the Northern Pacific Center in Brainerd.
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch
Attendees gather to hear speakers at an event Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, which included Dr. Scott Jensen, a 2022 candidate for Minnesota governor, at the Northern Pacific Center in Brainerd. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

“You have seen that over the last 18 months, you have been disrespected by many of the policies that have taken place in Minnesota, and you’ve seen your individual rights infringed upon, and you’ve seen an expansion of government like never before,” Jensen told the audience. “And you are terrorized as to what next will be decided? Whether it’s another emergency power in two weeks or one week, whether it’s a mask mandate, whether it’s a vaccine mandate.

"I want to help you feel comfortable and equipped. You need to be the champion for your children. And there’s basically one reason, and it’s all about freedom. In the same way that our parents and our grandparents paid it forward for us, you’re doing that for the next generation and the generation following. So the fact that you’re here is critically important.”

Another speaker Saturday was Brainerd attorney Richard Dahl, who is representing Lake Shore restaurant Iron Waffle Coffee Co. as it faces severe fines for operating without a business license after it was revoked for failing to comply with COVID-19 executive orders.

Dahl told the audience his client has been persecuted and urged those in attendance to give the Iron Waffle business if it is open.

Local attorney Richard Dahl speaks Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, at the Northern Pacific Center in Brainerd,
Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch
Local attorney Richard Dahl speaks Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, at the Northern Pacific Center in Brainerd, Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch

Brainerd mom Melissa Hagberg, who has four school-aged children and works as a dental hygienist, told the crowd that her dental office has not seen any COVID-19 transmission during the pandemic and added that masks are not safe for children to wear long term.

“If the current mask mandate remains in effect, my children will not be attending ISD 181, as I feel strongly that this mandate puts our children at risk, and it’s improper use of masking that is not in line with OSHA’s guidelines,” Hagberg said.

Her kids made use of distance learning last year, she said, as she did not want to potentially bring COVID-19 home from the dental office and have her kids unintentionally spread it in school. Hagberg said she hired a tutor and her kids did well, but contacting teachers was not easy.

“Teachers were not equipped to provide quality education last year,” she said. “The entire education system was a failure last year.”

Others who spoke at the event included state Rep. Josh Heintzeman and Northern Pacific Center owner Mike Higgins.

Jensen joins six other Republican candidates who have announced their 2022 bid for Minnesota governor, including former Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, former state Sen. Michelle Benson, activist Bob Carney, businessman Mike Marti, Lexington Mayor Mike Murphy and physician Neil Shah.