Coronavirus in one state (114)

New cases of COVID-19 have climbed to record levels in Minnesota. That is the headline news in stories such as MPR’s “Highest death count in months; 1,200 new cases” (October 14) and “Latest on COVID-19 in MN: Deaths climb, case counts skyrocket on strong testing” (October 16) this week — stories that faithfully reflect the tone and content of advice from the Department of Health.

The record number of cases follows on a record number of tests. Minnesota may be experiencing a new wave similar to the one with which our neighboring states are wrestling. Doing the work that our media betters refuse to to do, Kevin Roche crunches the numbers here.

Wave or no wave, the current state of the epidemic was the subject of yesterday’s Department of Health press briefing (audio below). Unpleasant as it is, this one is must listening. The tone is one of blaming and shaming. According to the authorities, we aren’t doing our part. We are letting them down. The only thing missing is the threat of consequences. The big dog of threatened consequences isn’t barking. Why? I infer that the political imperative has silenced that particular dog for the time being.

Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm and Infectious Disease Division Director Kris Ehresmann hosted Hennepin Healthcare chief executive officer Jennifer DeCubellis on yesterday’s press briefing conference call. Nurse Ratched has nothing on DeCubellis, a bureaucrat from hell. Bed capacity is not an issue, she advised, but staffing is. Her staff are contracting the virus as a result of community spread and it is our fault.

It is our fault because this is a preventable disease. Put an exclamation point on that. This is a preventable disease! That was the theme of the briefing.

One might infer, however, that this highly infectious disease is going to spread despite our best efforts. As Kevin puts it, “The virus is going to do what it will do, as always.” Kevin adds: “[I]nstead of owning up to it or at least being honest about the uncertainty in attempts to mitigate spread, we never get any sense of humility and blame is cast everywhere else–the virus, the citizenry, the federal government, our neighboring states. Same old pathetic same old.” To adapt a line from Senator Feinstein, the blame lives loudly in them. See also Kevin’s post “An interim big picture update.”

Well, I invite you to listen in and double check my interpretation of the word from on high in the audio below. In her opening remarks Malcolm stated and emphasized that the record new case numbers do not include old cases dumped into yesterday’s data. We don’t trust but we do verify. We have “verified” Malcolm’s statement as false, per this statement on the MDH site: “Results from 4/29, 6/3, 8/18, 8/26, 9/1, 9/9, and 10/15 included a backlog of tests loaded into our system.” The 10/15 results are those reported yesterday.

UPDATE: As of October 18, Kevin is still trying to figure out whether the October 16 new case data included cases from previous days: “The Commissioner said no, the website says yes, but this analysis would also suggest no.”