On May 18 the state of Minnesota purchased the Bix Produce Co.’s former cold storage facility just north of downtown St. Paul for an emergency morgue, bracing for a peak in COVID-19 deaths predicted by the state’s super duper Minnesota Model 3.0 as updated the previous week. The state paid $5.5 million for the property. Operating costs and improvements to ready the building for its new purpose will bring the total to $6.9 million.
The 71,000-square-foot Bix Produce warehouse provides overflow room for up to 5,100 bodies. The state was bracing for up to 1,000 deaths per week, with half the deaths coming in a four- to five-week period, according to the Minnesota Department of Administration. The Star Tribune’s Jennifer Bjorhus provided a sympathetic account of the state’s new venture.
The surge in deaths has failed to materialize. The predicted peak never arrived. Indeed, deaths due to the epidemic have cratered since the state purchased the building and refashioned it as a morgue. Over the seven days from June 23 to June 29, for example, authorities attributed 52 deaths to the epidemic, a few short of the expected 1,000 per week.
KSTP-TV’s Tom Hauser asked Governor Walz about this episode at a recent press briefing. Hauser’s question elicited a few of Walz’s characteristic rhetorical maneuvers couched in meaningless fast talk: “When this is all done and COVID is contained and we move to that place where we can look back on this time, if the critique is that I built that out and should not have done that, I will take that and I will own that.”
Hauser reports the story here. It is a sidebar that opens a window onto the nature of the “leadership” of the Walz administration and the failure of the Minnesota media (with the exception of Hauser himself).