Coronavirus in one state (125)

I would like faithful readers of this series to know that I have reached an agreement to settle my lawsuit against Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm and MDH Communications Director Michael Schommer. I am awaiting only their execution of the agreement. Although it has attracted roughly no attention beyond my own coverage on Power Line, the lawsuit vindicates the First Amendment in the context of the MDH press briefings around which I have organized this series.

I will have more to say when they sign on the dotted line as agreed. Not to give away too much here, I can let on that I will declare victory and post the agreement in a final installment of my Media Access in One State series when I have their executed copy of the agreement in hand. They have succeeded only in slow rolling the resolution.

Governor Walz’s E.O. 20-96 (“Restricting Social Gatherings, Celebrations, and the Hours and Operations of Bars, Restaurants, and Venues to Prevent Further Spread of COVID-19”) went into effect last night at 10:00 p.m. This order has more than a whiff of Presidente Esposito laying down the law in San Marcos about it. Silence!

However, Walz is not alone. With this incredible order Walz joins the likes of Andrew Cuomo, Gavin Newsom, and other governors who are deep into the incomparable joy of one-man rule. As with his purchase of a refrigerated warehouse facility for use as an emergency morgue this past spring, Walz is compensating for Minnesota’s inferiority complex.

Executive Order 20-96 conveys the same pretense of control over the epidemic that we have suffered since E.O. 20-01 declaring the era of one-man rule this past March. John Hinderaker made a related point here last night. Once upon a time the execrable Dr. Michael Osterholm made the same point. Indeed, I cited Osterholm to this effect in “False alarm,” the article I wrote this past May with Kevin Roche for the Summer issue of Thinking Minnesota.

Earlier this week Kevin addressed what he would do. As we cope with the current wave of the epidemic in the upper Midwest, Kevin also wanted Power Line readers to have this information:

Below is a screenshot of North Dakota’s hospitalization reporting. Note the sub-category of people who went into a hospital for a reason other than COVID-19 and tested positive in the hospital. This would include some subset of those who actually acquired the infection in the hospital. Now note that if you do the math, it is 36 percent of all hospitalizations. This is consistent with other research. Gives you a different perspective. Minnesota has this information, why isn’t it reported? In fact why don’t we insist that it be reported everywhere. And this ties into the PCR testing issues, because financial incentives lead hospitals to use very low positivity thresholds. Those thresholds should be disclosed as well. So much for the Incompetent Blowhard’s constant boasting about the transparency of Minnesota’s data. One other thing to consider is that for these people who were tested in the hospital, most were likely asymptomatic.

Over the past week the Minnesota authorities have attributed a record number of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths to COVID-19. In yesterday’s data they attributed 46 new deaths to the virus. Governor Walz held court along with Osterholm and Malcolm Infectious Disease Division Director Kris Ehresmann at yesterday’s press briefing (audio below). I won’t invite you to feel my pain, but it does illuminate the current line.

Thirty-four of the 46 deaths in yesterday’s data occurred among residents of long-term care facilities (33) or other congregate care (one). Not a single question at yesterday’s briefing focused on this apparent failure of Walz’s “5-point battle plan” to control the spread of the epidemic in the nursing home setting, but that’s okay. We know what he would say if asked.

UPDATE: By email this morning Kevin adds: “[I]t is incredible to me that the media just roll over and ignore the obvious, like we are right back to big numbers of deaths in LTC. I really marvel at how people are willing to give Walz a free pass on this stuff. I don’t know if you saw it but the most hilarious event of the week was the Nevada Governor chastising residents for noncompliance, then testing positive and saying I took every precaution and I still got it, I guess maybe you can’t stop this. That is the real problem, can’t admit that maybe there isn’t much we can do.”