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Coronavirus in one state (121)

(Scott Johnson)

Minnesota takes part in the current surge in “cases” or positive tests for COVID-19 that dominate news of the epidemic, but most notable to me over the past few days are the “consequences” in long-term care facilities. Since I last reported over the weekend, the authorities have attributed 20 new deaths (10/31, 15 in long-term care facilities), 18 new deaths (11/1, 13 LTC), and 9 new deaths (11/2, five LTC) to the disease. Also notable is the lack of interest among the reporters on yesterday’s Minnesota Department of Health press briefing (audio below) in this recurrence of this issue in LTC facilities.

According to Commissioner Malcolm and Infectious Disease Division Director Kris Ehresmann in their briefing comments, it’s our fault. Malcolm put it this way: “Minnesota is in a bad spot due to rapid community spread of COVID-19.” We are failing to follow their guidance. The tone is grim and threatening. We’re gonna get our minds right. Governor Walz lurks in the background until the votes are counted.

Despite the emphasis on “cases” in the briefing, case studies and specifics are lacking. Malcolm and Ehresmann project a pretense to knowledge that is not backed up by facts. Does Minnesota have any reasonable prospect of doing better than Wisconsin (which may or may not be doing worse than we are)? Malcolm’s answer: “We sure hope so.”

Kevin Roche offers a contrasting view that I find persuasive. Having listened in to yesterday’s briefing, Kevin comments: “The virus is doing what respiratory viruses do–spread opportunistically and in a manner we don’t fully understand. You cannot meaningfully stop the spread of this virus.”