Coronavirus in one state (13)

As of this morning, the death toll attributed to COVID-19 by the Minnesota authorities ramped up to 79. Over two-thirds of the 79 have died in nursing homes or assisted-care living facilities, a fact which comports with the median age of decedents: 87. See the Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 Situation Update. Decedents so far have fallen within an age range from 56 to 100 (screenshot below).

Today the Star Tribune looks at the trends represented in the numbers. Glenn Howatt and Jeremy Olson report the story in “Minnesota COVID-19 stories show personal tragedies, larger trends.” Subhead: “Death certificate records reveal the things the state’s first victims had in common and what made them unique.” They add this glaring fact to the mix: “Most of those who died were living out their retirement years. Nearly 90% of the 79 reported deaths have been among those over age 70.”

Howatt and Olson also note that most of the elderly decedents suffered with compromised physical conditions: “Heart disease and hypertension were common illnesses among those who died of COVID-19, along with diabetes and kidney disease.” They add:

At least 17 of the deceased had two or more of the most common conditions, while others had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease — which makes it hard to breathe — asthma, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and obesity.

Of all deaths reviewed so far, 98.5% had pre-existing conditions, said Kris Ehresmann, infectious disease director at the Minnesota Department of Health.

Dementia afflicted 15 who passed away, reflecting the fact that about 70% of all deaths have been among residents of long-term care facilities. At least 18 elder-care institutions had lost one or more residents to COVID-19 as of April 10, the most recent death record reviewed by the Star Tribune.

The state of Minnesota remains on lockdown under the shutdown order announced by Governor Tim Walz on March 25 and now extended to May 4. Although Walz predicated his shutdown orders on utterly absurd projections, not a discouraging word is heard in the Minnesota press about these projections.

To this record of journalistic nonfeasance we can add today’s Star Tribune article. You can rest assured that Howatt and Olson do not ask their interlocutors among the state authorities the obvious question. Was it — is it — really necessary to shut the state down to protect those whose lives are put at risk by COVID-19?

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