Coronavirus in one state (6)

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz ordered a widespread shutdown of normal life on March 25, effective (11:59 p.m.) March 27. In his remarks explaining the order, he premised his order on 74,000 projected deaths from COVID-19. Last week we learned that, if the order worked out as hoped, it would save 24,000 lives. We have yet to see the model. Maybe someday he’ll let us in on the secret.

As of the moment I write this morning, Minnesota has experienced a total of 30 deaths attributable to COVID-19. That is up approximately one since Sunday. The Minnesota Department of Health COVID-19 situation update is accessible online here.

The current shutdown order will expire on Friday. Reporting on the governor’s current thinking, the Star Tribune’s Jeremy Olson forgets about the governor’s remarks supporting his order. Instead, Olson looks elsewhere: “Forecasting by the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation also dropped the predicted COVID-19 death toll in Minnesota in the next four months from 932 to 625.”

Olson adds: “The institute projected no dates on which the state’s hospitals would run out of ventilators — which are critical for keeping patients with severe COVID-19 cases breathing.” The validity of the institute’s model is a question beyond the scope of Olson’s story. Insofar as he relies on its model, however, Olson ought to dig into it.

Cases have been diagnosed in 33 Minnesota “long-term care facilities.” I believe they are what is otherwise known as nursing homes. Deep into the story, Olson lets on that “[t]he median age of the 30 Minnesotans who died from COVID-19 is 86. The state has detailed health data on 28 of those victims, and 27 had underlying health conditions such as diabetes.”

By contrast with Olson, former New York Times reporter Alex Berenson highlights the demographic data in his look at Minnesota (tweet below).

The Star Tribune site itself appears to have contracted some kind of virus. Olson’s story is published in the hard copy of the paper this morning on page A5 under the headline “Walz weighs modified stay-at-home order.”

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