In the Governor’s absence, Commissioner Malcolm carried on with attempting to keep up the fear-mongering, although she does so with less enthusiasm. She also repeated the fallacy that we are seeing increasing cases, when all we are seeing is increased testing compared to a week or two ago. I can only assume this intentional, as she and the Governor have each made the same error in their most recent briefings, despite several times in earlier briefings warning us that when testing ramped up we would see more cases solely as a result of expansion of testing. I think the team is getting more desperate to convince the public that they really did need to put 635,000 Minnesotans out of work.
A lot of the questions focused on the forthcoming model revisions. The modelers slipped out a revision to the prior powerpoint on the model and its results; a revision which added a scenario five. That scenario actually showed that extending the stay-at-home order increased deaths slightly. In answer to a question, the lead modeler implied this was due to a delay in obtaining population immunity. We have repeatedly tried to point out that one of the dumb things about the current strategy is that it delays the achievement of the surest way of stopping the epidemic–population immunity, so nice to get some support on that from the state. Some hints were dropped on what else to expect–the model will run out for a longer time, it will consider updated parameters and it will look at similar mitigation of spread measures. I will again suggest that the most important thing to watch for is what number of asymptomatic cases they assume and whether they pull that senior congregate living population out and run it separately.
There were questions again about why testing seems low compared to all the capacity that we ramped up to, and there was a lot of non-responsive dancing. The truth likely is that there aren’t many people with symptoms so there isn’t much demand for testing. This is consistent with what we see around the country, where testing locations are actually being closed from lack of use.
There was also a lot of discussion or remdesivir, the supposed miracle drug that will cure coronavirus. I just want to caution everyone that the actual effects of that drug are pretty modest, both in terms of the number of patients it helped and the reduction in deaths or hospital days it led to.
And of course, notwithstanding what is obviously actually happening, our local paper’s front-page headline was to effect that the state was preparing for a surge in cases.