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It Looks Grim, But It Isn’t That Bad

By November 2, 2020Commentary

More grim news from the Department of Health, and it does at first glance seem like the situation is significantly worsening.  But I can assure you that this is not as bad as spring and I don’t believe it will get as bad as spring.  The exception to that is in the long-term care facilities, where we still are seeing high rates of deaths.  The Department continues to blame staff for getting infected in the community and bringing the virus into the facilities, but isn’t providing any real evidence to support that.  We learned that we have over 500 staff doing contact tracing.   Obviously to no avail.  Masks don’t make a difference (you really don’t want to see that case trend line from before and after the mandate now, apparently the mandate has resulted in over a 200% rise in cases), testing everyone repeatedly doesn’t make a difference, shutting down schools and businesses doesn’t make a difference; when will we learn what we are being taught on a daily basis?

We heard again that we don’t want to end up like Wisconsin, which has lots of cases right now.  The difference between Minnesota and Wisconsin, for example, isn’t cases, where Wisconsin has taken a clear lead due to testing differences between now and Spring, when Minnesota was getting hit harder, but deaths, where Wisconsin somehow appears to be doing a much better job at preventing deaths among long-term care residents.  If I have time I will dig into the data from our neighboring states and do the same kind of cohort outcome rates that I have done for Minnesota, with some testing adjustment.

Minnesota has an increase in cases in part because of testing, but in part because the environmental and human conditions have swung around to being much more favorable to CV-19.  While hospitalizations are also up, length of stay, from the limited data available to assess this, appears down significantly.  If we could see total days of hospitalization, I don’t believe those would be increasing at the rate of cases or admits.  And we just can’t seem to escape the continuing flood of deaths out of nursing homes and among the frail elderly.  Maybe there isn’t anything that can be done.  On a population basis, current prevalence is low, current transmission rates are not excessively high, and most importantly, CV-19 continues to be almost completely non-threatening to the general, community dwelling population.  And we continue to inflict enormous harm on ourselves in vain attempts to suppress its spread.

The subdued tone of the briefing and lack of blaming or much reaction at all, heightens my belief that the IB is merely waiting for the election to be over and will then issue stricter orders, potentially closing schools and businesses, etc.  He is a bleeping weasel and this would be completely in character with his lying a week or so ago about plans to do just that.  Somehow things won’t have been dire enough a week ago to re-lockdown, but they will be on Wednesday.  The one thing that could upset that plan is the opposite party gaining complete control of the legislature.  Issuing those orders will only deepen the economic, educational and social pain already imposed on Minnesotans and will be a further display of the complete ineptitude with which he has responded to this epidemic.

And, as I won’t tire of pointing out, these are empty gestures; they are futile.  The state acknowledges that when it says that the spread is everywhere outstate and isn’t due to any particular outbreaks in specific types of locations.  The virus is doing what respiratory viruses do–spread opportunistically and in a manner we don’t fully understand.  You cannot meaningfully stop the spread of this virus.  Efforts to do so have only resulted in what we see now, a lengthening and deepening of the pain.  If we hadn’t locked down in the Spring, we wouldn’t be seeing this upsurge in cases now.  And if we lock down again, we are only guaranteeing another surge later.  The general and unprecedented stupidity with which this epidemic has been handled must be examined in the near future and laws passed to ensure that this never happens again.

I have said that all locales will generally end up in the same per capita place, but the reality appears to be that those who keep making the same mistakes and utilizing harsh suppression measures will ultimately endure a far greater toll, from both the virus and the lockdowns.

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