Coronavirus in one state (31)

After I posted yesterday’s installment of this series I heard Justice and Drew call my name in connection with my continuing exclusion from Governor Walz’s daily COVID-19 briefings (audio below). I thought some readers might find the discussion of interest.

I have now filed Data Practices Act requests with Walz and Commissioner of Health Jan Malcolm seeking documents disclosing why I have been excluded from the daily briefings run by the governor and the Department of Health when Walz is otherwise engaged. They refuse to respond to my repeated inquiries asking why. That is one question to which I intend to get the answer. They refuse even to acknowledge receipt of my messages.

Governor Walz devoted yesterday’s briefing (video below) mostly to fiscal issues, but he also announced a new executive order: “Executive Order 20-51, providing a roadmap for safely restarting elective surgeries and procedures in hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, and clinics.” The Minnesota Department of Health briefly summarized the new order: “After May 10 at 11:59 p.m., doctors, dentists, and veterinarians who create a plan to maintain a safe environment for facility staff, patients, and visitors may begin offering currently-delayed procedures. These surgeries can treat chronic conditions, prevent and cure disease, and relieve chronic pain.”

Well, thank you, sir. I need some relief.

According to the data released yesterday, MDH attributes 27 new deaths to the virus. That brings the total to 455 — 368 in nursing homes or long-term care facilities. Twenty-three of the 27 new deaths occurred among residents of nursing homes. The share of all deaths in nursing homes continues slightly to exceed 80 percent. Of the 27 new deaths, four decedents were in their 90’s, 11 were in their 80’s, six were in their 70’s, five were in their 60’s, and one in his 40’s. The median age of all decedents remains 83.

Why the statewide lockdown? That is the question. “We’re gonna have to do this together until there is herd immunity. We’re just slowing this down,” Walz explained.

Quotable quote (Governor Walz): “If we do this right it will look like we’re wrong.”

UPDATE: I should add that Axios identifies Minnesota and Nebraska as the two states in which new cases have appeared most rapidly over the past week. I think Minnesota’s rate of increase in new cases over the past 7 days puts us at number 1. Outbreaks among packing plant employees and related spread certainly account for some of the increase. At the briefings, MDH has repeatedly ascribed much of the increase to increased testing, as Commissioner Malcolm did yesterday. See also Kevin Roche’s “Letters to the Governor and Our Modelers.”

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