Yesterday brought the news that this year’s edition of the Minnesota State Fair is canceled. Dating back to our territorial days, the fair was last canceled in 1948 as a result of the polio epidemic. The cancelation is only the fifth time in the fair’s history. State authorities advised the fair board that COVID-19 “would still be with us at dangerous levels” at the end of August, according to Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm at the daily press briefing (audio below). Thanks to measures taken to delay the peak of infections in the state, authorities warned that the worse is yet to come. It is sad news all the way around any way you slice it.
Yesterday the authorities attributed 33 new deaths to COVID-19, beating the previous high of 32 set the day before. The new total of deaths attributed to the disease is 842.
According to Malcolm, 27 of the 33 new deaths occurred among residents of long-term care facilities. The MDH Situation Update gives the number as 25 plus one in a group home (see screenshot below). The department sets the number of deaths among residents of long-term care facilities at 688 — just short of 82 percent of all deaths attributed to the disease.
The age breakdown of new decedents followed the pattern skewing toward the elderly with significant underlying medical conditions. Eight were in their 90’s, 13 in their 80’s, three in their 70’s, 7 in their 60’s, one in his 50’s, one in his 30’s
Governor Walz has yammered at great length about the state’s “standing up” hospital and ICU capacity during the shutdown, but the Star Tribune’s Pulitzer Prize-winning health care reporter Jeremy Olson waves a red flag about hospital space in “Minnesota health officials call for caution after news of Twin Cities ICU beds filling up.” Subhead: “Hospitals were diverting patients, even sending young adults to Children’s Minnesota, amid ICU bed pressures and COVID-19.”
Olson is not inclined to look back either at Walz’s claims of accomplishment in securing hospital capacity or at the iterations of the Minnesota models invoked by Walz to justify his edicts that “bought time.” Olson is waging his own incessant campaign of fear with no reference to excess hospital capacity that can be turned to intensive care use.
Yesterday I observed that I could write the Star Tribune editorial supporting boy mayor Jacob Frey’s mandatory mask diktat in my sleep. At this point, however, the Star Tribune editors are exercising their right to remain silent on the issue. If we haven’t heard from them by Monday, I may have to put my tossing and turning to good use and let you know what I think they would have said if they had chosen to speak up.
The epidemic has manifested in Minnesota to some substantial extent as a nursing home crisis. I have made this observation roughly since the first day I undertook this series and reiterated it in just about every installment since then. It remains the case, only more so. Indeed, it has become a national disgrace. Not a single question posed by the “professional journalists” on yesterday’s press briefing sought to explore any dimension of the nursing home crisis.