Coronavirus in one state (133)

As I noted yesterday in part 132, the authorities reported a single day record number of deaths on November 25 (reported on November 27). The number was 101. As always, these fatalities swept up the infirm elderly in nursing homes and elsewhere. Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm nevertheless refrained from express mention of this fact in her special November 27 statement:

Thanksgiving Weekend is a sad time to have to report a new daily record for COVID-19 deaths in Minnesota. Today’s total of 101 pushes us to 3,476 deaths since the disease first arrived in our state nearly nine months ago.

This is a sad development, but it is not a surprising development. For weeks we have been sounding the alarm about the dramatic growth in COVID-19 cases. We know that more cases leads to more hospitalizations and deaths, and today’s news reinforces that tragic pattern.

As we make our way through the next few weeks and a holiday season unlike any we have experienced, we must redouble our efforts to protect each other – especially those who are at higher risk of developing severe illness. Every public activity now is more risky than it was even a few weeks ago, so the best way to slow this spread is for people to stay home and away from gatherings with those outside of our immediate household. And we need everyone leaving their home to follow the basic recommendations every time. That means staying 6 feet apart from others, wearing your mask over your nose and mouth, staying home when sick, and getting tested when appropriate.

This is painful and frustrating, but every day we get closer to having safe and effective vaccines that should help resolve this crisis. We anxiously await that day, and until then we all must do our part to ensure that all of our loved ones, friends and neighbors can celebrate those days with us.

Note Malcolm’s tactful reference to “those who are at higher risk of developing severe illness.” And who may they be? If you’ve been following this series, you know the answer. “This is painful and frustrating,” indeed.

The answer nevertheless raises an interesting question. How many excess deaths has COVID-19 caused in the United States? According to the spiked study by Johns Hopkins University’s Genevieve Briand, the answer is zero.

PJ Media’s Matt Margolis covered the study here and the AIER’s Ethan Yang had more here with relevant links to help interested readers sort it out. Video of the related presentation is still accessible here.

Following Monday’s press briefing with Governor Walz, Malcolm held another press briefing yesterday with Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann, this one mostly to discuss issues related to the coming vaccines. Given the air of crisis on which the shutdown decreed by Governor Walz is predicated — see Malcolm’s statement — Pioneer Press reporter Chris Magan innocently asked Malcolm (audio below at 26:45) whether the state might need the use of the multimillion dollar refrigerated facility purchased by Governor Walz to accommodate possible morgue overflow.

Malcolm nervously hemmed and hawed. She couldn’t bring herself to say “no,” but that is the obvious inference from Malcolm’s non-answer. “We certainly hope not,” she said. Purchasing the facility was “a matter of trying to think ahead.” Still circling around a direct answer, Malcolm added: “We will be prepared to use the facility if it’s needed.” Kevin Roche takes one path to explaining why it’s not needed in the Star Tribune column “COVID’s fall surge peaked before Walz order.”