Why a statewide shutdown to stem what appears to be a nursing home crisis in Minnesota? That is the question I addressed to Minnesota Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm following the daily state briefing on Monday. For some reason, Malcolm’s crew omitted me from Tuesday’s briefing. They have not responded to my query why they did so. Maybe it was something I asked.
Here is the question I addressed to Malcolm: “Referring to the 286 total deaths to date, I note that every decedent under age 70 has died in long-term care or similar setting. The youngest person to die outside long-term care was in his 70’s. Why is it necessary to close the schools and shut down the state to protect the at-risk population?”
This is the answer I received on Malcolm’s behalf from MDH media contact Doug Schultz (posted verbatim in part 25 of my daily series): “We have had deaths in people younger than 70 and certainly many cases in all age groups. It is necessary to take the community mitigation measures we have because all Minnesotans are at risk from COVID 19, as none of us has immunity. Some people, like those in long-term-care and those with underlying health conditions, are far more at risk than others. But if we didn’t reduce transmission in the community as we have with the stay at home order, we would see far more disease circulating and many times more serious cases that would quickly overwhelm our health care system. Then, even less-vulnerable people would not be able to get the care they needed, such as intensive care, ventilators, etc., so we would see far more deaths in people outside of the very frail and elderly. That is what has happened in places like Italy and New York.
Kevin Roche is the former UnitedHealth Group general counsel and chief executive officer of its Ingenix division. Taking the Malcolm/Schultz response as “An Example of Government Evasiveness and Misinformation,” Kevin subjects it to close analysis. Kevin writes at Healthy Skeptic (lightly edited, emphasis in original):
The question was about where are the deaths occurring in people under the age of 70. It appears that no one under that age has died other than in a long-term care facility, but the point of the question was to verify that. The answer is a non-answer. It just says, yes people under 70 died but doesn’t say where. Kind of important to know, since the Governor is scaring the hell out of everyone. Might make a difference if people knew, if I just stay out of a nursing home, I should be fine.
“All Minnesotans are at risk from coronavirus.” Yes, we all have the potential to be infected, but so what? What is the real “risk” or “danger”? The state has said several times that it thinks there are 100 times more infections than there are positive test results. Since none of those people sought a test, apparently, by definition they were all asymptomatic or mild cases. Most of the positive test results were asymptomatic or mild cases. So for 99 percent plus of Minnesotans, there is zero danger. And see the first part above, apparently, unless you are in a nursing home, if you are under the age of 70, you have zero risk of death.
“None of us have immunity.” Also not true. Everyone who has been infected probably does have immunity. Not all of us are going to even be exposed. A large number of us, especially young people, aren’t going to get infected if exposed. “If we didn’t reduce transmission we would overwhelm the health system.” A flat-out lie. There is absolutely nothing that suggests we couldn’t provide adequate resources to treat those who need treatment.
If and when the state releases the next run of its model, if it adjusts the parameters as it would have to based on the information now available, there is going to be no scenario in which the system is overwhelmed. And the model already shows that if you just do stay-at-home for seniors, there is no shortage of capacity. There simply is no basis for ordering everyone to stay at home.
The rest of the stuff is nonsense gibberish….People wonder why there is so little respect for government. This kind of garbage is why.
I want to add Kevin’s argument to my own more restrained observations yesterday. Kevin provides a perspective that is available approximately nowhere in the Minnesota media.