So, let’s get the reaction to the latest coronavirus briefing out of the way. The group was down to Chris and Ruth today, no Commissioner Malcolm. I have to give them credit for staying on message. Chris was admirable in browbeating Minnesotans about being responsible if there are any problems in the schools, since we are all sinners failing to mask and social distance and stay in our bomb cellars where we belong. Guilting and shaming just comes naturally to these people. Unfortunately, so does misrepresenting and lying and our ditzy state epidemiologist has some geography challenges as well. They had big problems with two questions. One was, hey, seen any impacts from that magic mask mandate yet? Answer: waffle, waffle, weasel, weasel, waffle. Basically the answer was no, cases have plateaued and it is hard to single out the mask effect, don’t forget to social distance, are you wearing that mask even when you are on your zoom calls and then of course, my favorite response, which we will undoubtedly hear more of–well, they might have gone up more without the mandate. They are back to my “How to Save a Million Lives from Coronavirus” post.
I am tracking cases carefully. There is some difficulty at this point with the most recent days because of lags in getting the actual dates of positive tests. The state when it gives us daily cases is just telling us positive test results reported to the state that day, not the actual number of cases on that day. It is screwed up like day of death reporting. So it takes a few days before most of the actual positive test results from specimens collected on a specific day are filled in on that table. But so far, given that the incubation period is only about 5 days, there is zero impact and there is going to be zero impact. We are now almost three full weeks past the mandate. A major effect would have been seen in the second week. Even a minor impact should be visible by now. But I am waiting until I think the days in the third week have fairly complete case reporting before rendering my first official analysis. Along the way I have already observed that the date of report hospitalization numbers are never changed to reflect actual daily census, which is misleading, and that the number of daily cases, by the specimen collection method, for some reason that I can’t figure out, does change every day. I want to be accurate and fair in condemning the mass(k) delusion.
The second troublesome question from an emboldened media was about that pesky comparison with Wisconsin. A few whoopers here. Chris claimed that because we tested so much in long-term care facilities early on our case numbers looked bad and then somehow our deaths too? She later chimed in with the “over the long haul things fluctuate in different regions”. What is that famous movie quote—“I caught zero logic in all that. And that last bit. Pure gibberish.” Uhhh, it is always delicate to respond politely to stupidity, so why bother. Okay, first, Wisconsin actually now has more cases than Minnesota, 68611 to 63723, but facts are just so annoying. Second, what does the amount of testing have to do with deaths? By the way, Minnesota deaths, 1739; Wisconsin’s, over a third less, 1032. The states are identical in almost every way. Wisconsin is the most apt comparison state for Minnesota. Chris also tried the “well they may not have had a statewide lockdown, but some municipalities did impose one”. Those didn’t cover half the state’s population and by mobility measures, Wisconsinites were out and about significantly more than Minnesotans. (I hate saying good things about Wisconsin, they are our mortal pro football enemy.)
But wait, there’s more, the best is yet to come. Chris turned it over to Ruth, who was all prepped with statistics on our “neighboring” states, which were, wait for it, Michigan and Illinois. I am sorry Ruth, but I will have to give you zero points on that answer. Last time I checked, in the absence of wormholes or some other weird quantum fluctuation, the states adjacent to Minnesota are the aforementioned Wisconsin, Iowa, South Dakota and North Dakota. That white covered thing with people who talk weird to the North (no, not Fargo, that is northwest) is not a state Ruth, somehow it got to be its own whole country, Canada, pronounced Can-a-duh, ey. But I digress, none of those actual “neighboring” states has worse statistics than ours, so I can understand your eagerness to go several hundred miles to the east to find one.
But you may have wanted to think that through more carefully; Michigan and Illinois are a troubling comparison. Both states had earlier and stricter lockdowns than Minnesota did, including much earlier mask mandates. So tell us, oh great and powerful Oz, how in those circumstances did they end with worse epidemic statistics than Minnesota?
And one last little question from the media horde–any more cases from that awful rodeo in Itasca County. Oh, yeah, one whole more case. Again, you get the picture of what we are dealing with here, and it probably isn’t too dissimilar in other states.