As usual, state authorities updated the COVID-19 data at 11:00 a.m. yesterday morning. They reported 20 new deaths that they attributed to the virus, bringing the total to 578. Sixteen of the 20 new deaths occurred among residents of long-term care facilities, bringing the total of LTC deaths attributed to the virus to 464 and keeping the the share of all such deaths at slightly in excess of 80 percent. The median age of all decedents remains 83.
The state authorities do not regularly update us on the share of deaths attributable to residents of long-term facilities and those with significant underlying conditions. When asked recently, Infectious Diseases Division Director Kris Ehresmann provided the answer to two decimal places: 99.24 percent. They are closely tracking the number and we have no reason to believe that the answer would be materially different today.
And yet Governor Walz keeps up a campaign of fear abetted by the local media. The long Pioneer Press article profiling 10 victims of the virus is a classic example. The article is dated May 8, but it was featured on page one above the fold of the Sunday Pioneer Press yesterday. “They were more than a number. They loved and were loved,” we are advised.
The Pioneer Press reporters defied the odds to identify and profile a decedent who had no “underlying health conditions.” I would love to have seen a profile of the 109-year-old decedent whose death was attributed to the virus, but no such luck. Every life lost is a tragedy and the profiles are sad, but the article does not seriously advance our understanding of the crisis that we face. Rather, it obscures it.