Coronavirus in one state (124)

I have noted in this series over the past month that the press briefings around which it is organized have intimated the assertion of additional control over our lives after the election. Yesterday was the day, as Governor Walz gave one of his patented Joe Isuzu speeches at 2:00 p.m. to announce the new measures as set forth in yet another executive order: Emergency Executive Order 20-96, “Restricting Social Gatherings, Celebrations, and the Hours and Operations of Bars, Restaurants, and Venues to Prevent Further Spread of COVID-19.” I have posted the video of the 2:00 p.m. speech followed by the video of the 3:00 p.m. press conference at the bottom of this post.

Walz has convened another special session of the Minnesota legislature tomorrow, and will extend the regime of one-man rule for a further 30 days. We are in the midst of a surge of the epidemic in the upper Midwest. For a contrarian take on what is happening, please see Kevin Roche’s November 8 post “Two Obvious Circumstances to Consider.” I’m sure Kevin will have more to say about the speech and press conference in due course.

The pretense of control over the virus and the allocation of blame that fills these events are most striking. We need to control the spread — the spread of the panic and the blame. Good grief! Walz is still ranting about the Sturgis rally.

Listening to Walz explaining his new order and lashing out at our neighboring states, I thought of Presidente Esposito laying down the law in San Marcos (video clip from Bananas below). This is the heart of the matter.

Last night the Department of Health followed up with an email blast hitting the highlights of the new order:

Today, Governor Walz issued Executive Order 20-96 (PDF), which tightens restrictions indoor and outdoor private gatherings; celebrations, receptions, and other events; and bars and restaurants.

Social gatherings in private homes:

• Limited to 10 people (indoors or outdoors).

• May involve no more than three households.

Private parties, private celebrations, and receptions for weddings, funerals, birthday parties, reunions, anniversary celebrations, and private parties hosted at venues:

• Effective Nov. 13, these celebrations must end at 10 p.m. and remain closed until 4 a.m. if they serve or permit consumption of food or beverages.

• Private parties will be limited to:
◦  50 total participants on Nov. 27; and
◦  25 total on Dec. 11

Bars and restaurants:

• Effective Nov. 13, total restaurant capacity will be capped at 150 people, including both inside and outside settings, and it may not exceed 50% of the establishment’s total capacity.

• All bars and restaurants must end dine-in service between 10 p.m. to 4 a.m.

• Bar counter service for all establishments will be closed for seating and service. If the establishment uses a “counter-service only” model for ordering food and beverages, it must create a social distance queueing model.

• People must remain seated; no bar games such as darts and pool. If the establishment offers pull tab, it must be offered in a queue that is marked and socially distanced.

• Recreational entertainment venues (like movie theaters, bowling alleys, or similar settings), must cease food and beverage services and must not permit food and beverages to be consumed on site between the hours of 10 p.m. and 4 a.m.

I have listened to every one of the Minnesota Department of Health press conferences and have yet to hear of a “case” traced to late service at restaurants that are faithfully following the order that allowed them to reopen. If I find the data, I will report it in a future installment of this series.

With respect to the data, Republican state senator Michelle Benson commented:

The data-driven approach can be used not just to restrict activity, but to re-open safely. If there [are] data to prove bars and restaurants are major sources of transmission, we expect the data that shows elementary students are not major transmitters should be reviewed to safely resume in-person learning without putting the broader community at risk. There is a double standard when you use transmission and super-spreader events as the reason to restrict activity at bars, and community spread as the reason to limit in-person learning. If we’re going to use data-driven decision making, we ought to be using the same data inputs to make decisions.

Walz’s set speech is below. I invite you to feel my pain.

Walz’s press conference following the speech is below. He put on a classic performance blaming our neighbors for their poor performance, downplaying the enforcement mechanisms set forth in his order, and inviting Republicans to support the adoption of a statute enacting his mask mandate.

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