When I obtained evidence making out the illegality of the Minnesota Department of Health’s exclusion of me from regular press briefings, I retained Dorsey and Whitney’s Theresa Bevilacqua to represent me in a lawsuit against MDH Commissioner Jan Malcolm and MDH press flack Michael Schommer in federal district court. The case was assigned to Judge Donovan Frank, who promptly denied MDH’s motion to dismiss my lawsuit. Malcolm and Schommer then settled the lawsuit under an agreement that obligated them to reinstate me to the press briefing conference calls and answer three emailed questions a week from me in the same fashion they do for other reporters on the press briefings. I posted the settlement agreement in “Media access in one state: Finale.”
My questions are straightforward and calculated to advance an understanding of the epidemic as seen or unseen through the eyes of MDH. Faithful readers of this series know that I have followed the share of deaths attributed to COVID-19 that included one of the seven significant underlying medical conditions identified by the authorities as risk factors. KSTP political reporter Tom Hauser first raised the question in late April and again, most recently, in October. MDH compiles the data in the form Hauser reported it on October 25 in the tweet below.
As a follow-up to a question I asked on an MDH call last week, they got back to me on latest stats on how many Minnesotans who’ve died of COVID-19 had a significant underlying health condition. The current numbers are 94% yes; 4% unknown and 2% no. About 70% in long-term care. pic.twitter.com/UoYVMyxHEO
— Tom Hauser (@thauserkstp) October 25, 2020
In the first question I submitted last week, I sought an update of the data. Below is the question I posed and the answer I received late yesterday, a week later:
1. Question: Please provide the current data on the COVID-19 fatalities by number and share of all COVID-19 fatalities attributable to those with one or more of the significant underlying medical conditions identified in E.O. 20-55.
Answer: The Office of Vital Records (OVR) does not do any detailed analysis on death records related to the specific causes of death, calculate death rate or analyze county population used when calculating death rate. We collect data on all statewide deaths. Our office will be able to provide you a standard file since death data is public in the State of Minnesota. It would include the decedents’ demographics and cause of death information so you could do analysis on your end. There is $20 fee for an electronic death file for each year. There is $15 fee if you choose to request the file daily/weekly/monthly. Payment for either option is required first before the reports can be provided.
This is the second question I submitted last week along with the answer I received late yesterday, a week later:
2. Question: Please state how many cases you have traced to tribal casinos.
Answer: Reach out to casinos/tribes directly
These two unresponsive answers baldly violate MDH’s legal obligation to me. It is almost shocking. They obviously resent my questions. I will follow up with help from Ms. Bevilacqua. MDH’s noncompliance with its legal obligations sets a poor example for those of us living under the reign of King Tim and required to obey his every decree.
I asked a third question regarding the distribution of PCR test results by threshold number. They responded to this question at some length. I asked the question at Kevin Roche’s suggestion and have passed the answer along to Kevin. If Kevin doesn’t post it this week at Healthy Skeptic I will included with the set of answers I get from MDH in response to the questions I submitted early yesterday. Kevin’s review of the MDH press briefing I covered in part 146 is posted here (and well worth reading).
The current wave of the epidemic continues to recede, as can be seen in the data depicted in Minnesota Public Radio’s January 4 update. Malcolm droned on about “high risk indicators and cautionary signs” in yesterday’s briefing (audio below). Walz is expected to announce that he will “loosen” his current restrictions over our daily lives at a press conference tomorrow, but he will continue to exert tyrannical control for the foreseeable future.