Coronavirus in one state (102)

The Minnesota authorities drone on as though nothing has changed. I have posted the audio of yesterday’s Department of Health press briefing below.

Case numbers are up, but deaths and hospitalizations are down — way down. In the data reported yesterday, for example, the authorities attributed four new deaths to COVID-19, two of which occurred among residents of long-term care facilities. LTC deaths now account for 72.3 percent of all deaths attributed to the epidemic in Minnesota.

At about 37:00 one of the reporters asks a question about declining deaths and hospitalizations. According to Commissioner Jan Malcolm, the state must remain under monarchical rule in order to protect residents of long-term care facilities from employees who spread the disease. Malcolm alleges that they have seen an uptick in cases among long-term care residents (“again…it appears quite strongly”) caused by health care workers unknowingly bringing the disease into the facilities.

The authorities repeatedly told us over the summer that these numbers would increase after a lag of a few weeks. They will never admit they erred. On the contrary, they will reiterate the importance of persisting in their train of thought, as Infectious Disease Division Director Kris Ehresmann did in response to the question yesterday. Really.

Kevin Roche considers the quandaries in the state’s treatment of case data here. Jeremy Olson summarizes the briefing in the context of the current data here. On the failure of fatalities to track cases, Jeremy reserves judgment: “The key question is whether continued high numbers of new infections with the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 will lead to a surge in hospitalizations and deaths in Minnesota.”

The big news out of yesterday’s briefing is enough to make me spit. The state is in the process of opening ten “semi-permanent” centers for saliva testing. Jeremy unfortunately omitted this news from his account. MDH issued a press release announcing developments in saliva testing. It faithfully reflects the tone of the briefings:

“Our battle against COVID-19 is far from over,” said Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm. “The high number of new cases we’ve seen in recent days shows the outbreak could quickly spread out of control, so it’s important to stay a step or two ahead. Innovative partnerships are one of the ways we do that. This next milestone allows us to expand and diversify our testing options available to Minnesotans. Increased access to testing and identifying positive cases as early as possible is a critical way to keep schools and the economy as open as possible. While testing alone will not suppress the virus, higher testing volumes are a central part of our strategy to manage the virus.”

There is more at the link if you want it. We appear to be in the process of building out a “semi-permanent” infrastructure for one-man rule.