Coronavirus in one state (68)

In the data posted yesterday the authorities attributed three new deaths to COVID-19, including one resident of a long-term care facility. LTC deaths make up 78.4 percent of the total. Hospitalizations continue to decline. The median age of decedents — reported, most recently, in the July 2 weekly report — has now reached 83.6.

What is happening here? Kevin Roche comments:

One thing is clear, deaths and hospitalizations have fallen pretty dramatically in Minnesota. Hospitalizations have declined from a peak of around 800 patients in a day to about 250 now. Since June 21, a total of 15 reporting days, there have been ten or more deaths on only two days. In the prior 15 days, there were less than ten deaths only twice. Since long-term care residents continue to represent around 80% of deaths, not sure that we have cleaned up our act in that sector. Leaving aside the last few days where data lags play a role, the number of cases shows no discernible trend. Our positive rate has gone down. It sure looks like an epidemic that has petered out. I don’t think our rate of social distancing, mobility or mask use is any different than many other states. Most likely explanations are some form of seasonality or enough population immunity to dramatically slow spread, through a combination of low susceptibility due to pre-existing immune defenses, and higher prevalence of infections by this strain than we currently realize.

Wisconsin is more of the same, with a continuing much lower death rate than Minnesota. That state has only seen 58 deaths in the last 15 reporting days and the rate of growth in newly hospitalized patients has slowed to a crawl, while testing has stayed at a fairly high level. I am sure at some point an answer will become apparent, but it isn’t right now.

It should be a challenge to sustain the panic, but they’re doing the best they can over at the Minnesota Department of Health (audio of yesterday’s daily briefing below, shortened by a technical glitch).

UPDATE: Kevin explains what MDH is up to in “More Minnesota Data and Nonsense.” Kevin writes: “This [revision of a statistical benchmark] is a bluntly transparent effort by the Dictator to create a situation where he can justify continuing to hold onto his emergency powers, which obviously aren’t needed at this point. Minnesotans need a return to normalcy, not more of the Dictator’s constant game-playing and cute little tricks. People are dying because of the lockdowns and it is time to end them completely.”

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