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A Few Notes on the Course of the Epidemic

By September 20, 2020Commentary

Our old friend Andy Slavitt, Mr. “kids don’t transmit because they are short and 250,000 college students got infected all at once”, is at it again with an editorial in our home town paper.  He wants, wait for it, another massive shutdown.  The piece is full of misinformation because, well, Mr. Slavitt is uninformed.  Here is an example right off the bat.  He says the Administration should have done more to get ventilators early on.  We have tens of thousands, literally, unused ventilators sitting around in warehouses because doctors finally realized that they were killing people and were unneeded in most cases.  Physicians in the northeast are notorious for over-aggressive practice styles, including ventilator use, and that likely contributed to the excessive death toll in that region.  He claims, backed up only by another of those ludicrous modeling studies, that over 30,000 lives could have been saved by shutting things down a week faster.  Andy needs to get on the same page as Joe Biden, whose senility has convinced him that we should have no deaths.  And he needs to remember basic federalism principals, the federal government, fortunately, doesn’t have the power to order the kinds of lockdowns he wants.

And then we get the usual lies about spread in Minnesota, only being in the first wave, the Administration is destroying Americans health insurance and so on.  Not one word, however, about the immense health damage done to Minnesotans by the lockdowns he is in love with.  According to data directly from the CDC, just for certain common causes of death, Minnesota has suffered 1200 more deaths so far in 2020 than the average in the preceding five years.  These are not CV-19 deaths, they are lockdown and terrorization deaths and Mr. Slavitt is promoting actions that will lead to even more of them.

The op-ed is basically part of his and others ongoing campaign to discredit the administration, for purely political purposes. Ignorance of the epidemic, like of the law, is no excuse Andy.  These insane views should be laughed off, but in the current political atmosphere this guy not only gets listened to, he gets published, usually with no rebuttal.  He wants a job in the next administration and figures if he can do his part to tank the economy that maximizes his opportunity.  And he has millions of dollars, nothing to worry about, likely sends his kids to private schools and has no empathy for the plight of poorer persons and minorities who have been devastated by the extreme shutdowns he advocates for.

Next,don’t pay attention to what appears to be an uptick in cases in Minnesota in the last few days.  This is a date reported versus date of test issue.  It may also be a jump in testing artifact.  The state is having a big problem with labs doing timely reporting.  I am tracking where the cases reported every day actually go in terms of cases by date of test, and these recently reported cases are going to days a week or further back.  Within a week we will hopefully have a better picture of the actual number of cases in the first couple of weeks in September and can tell if there actually is any significant rise.  The state needs to fix the lag problem but at a minimum needs to stop reporting tests on one day and cases on another.  Every day, they should tell us we had this many tests from this specific day and this many positives (cases) among the tests from that day.

Meanwhile, an issue that should be taken seriously is being ignored.  The one place where there does appear to be an uptick in serious CV-19 cases in Minnesota is the LTC setting.  The Battle Plan isn’t working for crap.  The state occasionally tries to blame younger people for spreading it to the LTC setting, but they have absolutely no evidence to support that claim.  Now if it is due to the LTC residents voluntarily deciding that they want visitors and they are willing to take the risk, I both understand that and believe it should be their choice.  But not all residents may feel that way, so perhaps the state should help nursing homes figure out a way to segregate staff and residents with different preferences, the way schools create “bubbles” that don’t intermingle.  Then they could report deaths from the two groups separately.  And I don’t understand why they aren’t creating a separate category for LTC and the elderly in the community that represents people who died without treatment because of an advance directive.

Finally, I am watching our neighboring states closely, because I do wonder about seasonality and how the Upper  Midwest, except for Minnesota, escaped much of an epidemic this spring.  I look more at hospitalizations than cases, because more testing creates more cases and because of test and case reporting date issues, but a hospitalization is pretty unavoidable, regardless of the testing regime, and clearly reflects the level of serious disease..  And two states with case rises, Wisconsin and North Dakota, may be seeing a fair number of college student cases.  But then so should Iowa and South Dakota.  Wisconsin and North Dakota also do have what appear to be rises in hospitalization that might be worth watching if they continue.


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