Coronavirus in one state (128)

Governor Walz convened yet another press conference this afternoon to present Minnesota health care providers and executives speaking up on his behalf in support of his lockdown order. Walz opened with reference to the 72 new deaths attributed to the epidemic today. It is another record. Fifty-one of the 72 were residents of long-term care facilities (he didn’t mention that). The median age of decedents remains 83, according to the weekly Department of Health report released today. That has remained unchanged throughout the course of the epidemic.

Allina Health chief executive officer Penny Wheeler is an exception to this observation, but the anger was overflowing at this press conference. Dr. Wheeler was followed by Dr. Cindy Firkins Smith of Carris Health and Dr. Carolyn McClain of the Minnesota Medical Association. Dr. McClain is herself an emergency room physician. They are struggling with issues of space and staffing. The implicit message of their remarks is one of blame. They assert along with Walz that it is in our power to slow the spread of the virus. It’s all about the masks. (Of course, no mention was made of the Danish study released yesterday.)

Disagreement with the various Walz edicts is not to be brooked. It represents a public health hazard. We are held to be at fault for the regional surge of the epidemic that has arrived with the change of seasons. I’m not sure we are at fault and in fact I tend to doubt it.

Walz deeply resents dissenting voices. The anger permeates his comments and really comes through at about 40:00 and again at the end of the press conference. His anger provides the rationale for enlisting the three health care executives to stand with him today.

Disagreement with Walz is held to put health care workers at risk. Neither Walz nor the physicians make much of an argument on this point. The physicians personify “the science” with respect to which we are to fall into line. Kevin Roche takes up various strands of Walz’s assertions this week in his comments on the recent press briefings (not specifically including today’s, but they apply).

“I would think you could at least let me finish last night before the politics,” Walz says in a riff that begins at about 41:00. “I’m standing with every single medical institution in the state.” Walz then professed to “own” the political criticism of his latest edict by reference to his teaching days when a revised lesson plan was in order for uncomprehending students. Thus today’s dog and pony show.

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