Coronavirus in one state (67)

The authorities attributed a grand total of four new deaths to COVID-19 yesterday. All four deaths occurred among residents of long-terms care facilities and all four decedents were in their 70’s, 80’s, or 90’s. The total of all deaths attributed to the epidemic to date is 1,445. Long-term care decedents make up 1,135 of the total. Hospitalizations attributed to the epidemic are low, low, low. Yet we remain under the emergency rule imposed by Governor Walz and look set to do so for the foreseeable future.

Given the favorable numbers, I looked forward to the press briefing that I thought would be conducted by the Minnesota Department of Health yesterday. How would they sustain the panic? Kevin Roche, by the way, looked back at Walz’s June 29 press briefing at Healthy Skeptic. Kevin follows up on a point I let pass because I didn’t understand Walz’s rambling:

[Walz] gave a press conference today, largely to pat himself on the back for building up testing capacity. As is usually the case lately, he was somewhat incoherent. He mentioned needing to have 10% of the population tested to “bend the curve.” I have no idea what testing has to do with the shape of the epidemic, and I don’t think [Walz] does either. The next non sequitur was that testing can level of racial and other disparities. I don’t think testing has anything to do with either a person getting infected or the seriousness of their illness. There are disparities, but they are largely due to variation in presence of pre-existing conditions and variation in housing situations, use of public transportation and job type.

Once again he talks about how he wants the economy open. Just so everyone knows, Minnesota has the highest unemployment rate and worst business climate among all neighboring states, and that is by a fair margin. This is a direct result of his policies. He lied about business activity in Georgia and in regard to other comparisons with other states. He lied about the effectiveness of masks and the science behind masks. [He] talks a lot but the stuff coming out of his mouth is [not worth anything].

Kevin says it a little more bluntly than I have let on.

I was disappointed to find the daily MDH press briefing I anticipated yesterday supplanted by another Walz press conference, this one celebrating the effective date of a Minnesota law requiring insulin manufacturers to subsidize the supply of insulin to needy Minnesotans. Walz had arranged a really big show to celebrate the law. “Light-skinned Native woman” Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan was on hand to make her characteristically mind-numbing contribution to the festivities (video below).

A pall was cast over the celebration, however, by an industry lawsuit for declaratory and injunctive relief that has been filed in federal district court here to void the law on constitutional grounds. The complaint in the case is posted online here. The celebration turned into a Two Minutes Hate directed at big PhRMA.

Who brought this big, bad lawsuit? I couldn’t find a story that named the
lawyers. Taking a look at the complaint, I find that John Baker and Kathryn Hibbard of Minneapolis’s Greene Espel law firm signed off on the complaint. I think Greene Espel is a well-connected and highly regarded law firm. Former United States Attorney Andy Luger was a partner at the firm when he was named to the position. I take it that the lawsuit is the handiwork of PhRMA counsel Sidley Austin’s Joseph Guerra and Benjamin Mundel, who are also on the complaint. Although it is off topic with COVID-19, I thought readers might find the press conference of interest.