Coronavirus in one state (66)

Governor Walz conducted yesterday’s press briefing on COVID-19 with a supporting cast that included Dr. Tim Schacker of the University of Minnesota Medical School and Dr. Bill Morice of Mayo Clinic Laboratories. He announced the attainment of the goal to reach capacity for 20,000 tests a day. He calls it the Minnesota Moonshot. A good time was had by all.

Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm was on hand to review the usual statistics. New deaths are running at a low level. Yesterday, for example, the authorities attributed 10 new deaths to the epidemic. Six of the deaths occurred among residents of long-term care facilities. The total of all deaths attributed to COVID-19 is 1,435. The total of LTC deaths is now 1,129. LTC deaths make up 78.6 percent of the total. Hospitalizations are also (278 total, 140 in intensive care) are also at a low level.

At about 37:30 of the video, KSTP TV’s Tom Hauser asked whether Walz intended to mandate the wearing of masks. Walz responded, in part, “I tend to believe if you can use the carrot rather than the stick” and leaves the thought unfinished. At about 47:10, Walz elaborates, “At some point in time, the carrot turns [in]to the stick.”

I think the carrot turned into the stick back in March. It reminds me of the punchline to the old joke: “How much do you tip the whipper?”

At about 48:30, Hauser asked whether decedents with significant underlying medical conditions continued to make up 98 percent of total deaths attributed to the epidemic. If it weren’t for Hauser, there would have been no reference to the role that significant underlying conditions play in the fatalities attributed to the epidemic. Those suffering with one or more of the significant underlying conditions — Malcolm mentioned obesity — need to be warned that they are at risk and need to look out for themselves.

MDH Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann is the keeper of the number regarding decedents with significant underlying conditions. She was not on hand yesterday. I take it from the response to Hauser’s question yesterday that the number remains in the ballpark of 98 percent. Whatever the number — it’s certainly up there — it should be headline news. The conditions are set forth in paragraph 2 of Walz Executive Order 20-55. Every one of these press conferences constitutes a missed opportunity to warn the at-risk population.