Coronavirus in one state (65)

The Minnesota authorities attributed five new deaths to COVID-19 yesterday — all five among residents of long-term care facilities. That brings the respective totals to 1,411 and 1,112. LTC deaths constitute 79.3 percent of total deaths attributed to the epidemic. Four of the five decedents were in their 80’s and 90’s. One was in his 60’s. Deaths and hospitalizations have declined while new cases have increased over the past three days. The latter, Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm noted at yesterday’s press briefing, was on a high testing volume.

It should be hard to sustain the panic in Minnesota. The rationale for Governor Walz’s shutdown orders has long since dissipated, but Walz continues to modulate the dials of our lives. Even Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Jeremy Olson has begun to notice in his own please-don’t-be-offended way (see below).

In this series I have followed the data compiled daily in the MDH Situation Update. After my last installment in this series, a reader kindly pointed out that the median age of decedents has been relegated to the weekly MDH reports archived here. The June 25 report indicates that the median age of decedents to date is 83.6 with an age range of 21.5 to 109.2. Query: can we get a profile of the 109-year-old decedent whose death was attributed to the disease?

Yesterday the Department of Health held the third of its three scheduled press briefings of the week. I have embedded the recording of MPR’s audio feed below. Students of the briefings may note that Star Tribune reporter Jeremy Olson is on a winning streak; he is regularly the first called on from the telephone queue for questions. Olson also regularly gets in a second round of questions, as was the case yesterday.

About 10 minutes in, in his first round of questions, Olson asked a good one. Engaging in a little social distancing, Olson characterized the question as “contrarian.” Hasn’t the “buying time” rationale of the shutdown been served? Malcolm’s answer (and that of Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann) requires some translation. My translation: the rationale has evolved.

NOTE: Kevin Roche has useful thoughts on “What is going on with the epidemic.”