Yes, I watched Monday’s DOH briefing, Monday’s IB briefing, Tuesday’s IB briefing and today’s IB briefing. I will try to dispassionately make the following points without ranting:
- The Governor has a standard approach to the epidemic decisions that revolve around messaging, not around good decision-making. He constantly appeals to emotion, not rationality. And then he is surprised that a very large segment of the population don’t agree with his decisions and responses. His approach is fundamentally unilateral and undemocratic. He has not taken other perspectives and ideas into account at all.
- The Governor takes no responsibility for those unilateral actions and constantly attempts to assign blame to external factors and other people. This was recently demonstrated by the shaming and blaming of the population of Minnesota for the surge in cases, despite presenting no evidence to support any behavior change. He blames the virus itself, as though it has some ability to actually control human action. No Governor, it isn’t the virus, it is you making these decisions.
- He has engaged in a campaign of absolute terrorization of the population, emphasizing risk and danger, when the threat to the general population is low. That terrorization has led to people missing health care and in some cases dying, to people being fearful of engaging in any normal activities, to excessive anxiety, depression and despair that leads to more alcohol and drug abuse, and has created the environment that leads to schools being closed.
- The responses to the epidemic have been unbalanced and reflective of what I call coronamonomania. We never even hear about the jobs lost, businesses gone, those deaths from missed health care, the excess drug and alcohol abuse, the children deprived of a normal school and social experience.
- The Governor claims to be following the data and science, but he selects only research that supports what he has already decided to do. And he continues to just flat out lie; there is no other way to describe it. On Monday, he said literally “there is no denying that our rates of infection and death are the worst in the world”, referring again to one of his themes that it is the national response that is to blame for Minnesota’s case surge. This is not true, and is easily disproven by looking at the Worldometers website which has on its front page a summary from every country. We are not the worst, for a developed country we are in the middle. What continues to be true within the United States, is that the worst death and case rates have been in states like New York and New Jersey, which happen to be governed by members of the Governor’s party, but he never mentions that. He also lied when responding to a question about why should young people who have been infected be concerned or constrained in their activities, by saying that there is a significant risk of reinfection. Reinfection is extremely, extremely rare and every day now we are seeing new studies showing that people are developing strong adaptive immune responses. There does need to be some recognition that persons who have been infected and are past any reasonable possibility of being infectious should be free to go about business as usual and a mechanism to permit that to happen.
- His recent responses further restricting bars, restaurants and gyms are not supported by any data. The facts, which were tweeted out by state senator Munson, clearly show that restaurants, bars and gyms account for barely 1% of total cases, yet those industries, which employ many low-income and minority staff, will now be under existential threat again after having to scrape by under severe restrictions. The plain fact is that they don’t know what drives spread so they don’t have a good idea of what might stop it. The social gathering restrictions only further exacerbate the mental health strain on the population and do far more harm than good.
It should be very apparent to everyone that it is almost impossible to significantly slow the spread of the virus until it hits certain infection levels, that most of the mitigation measures are basically futile. A little humility in acknowledging that would be appropriate. And some recognition that other states, Florida and Georgia come to mind, and other countries, have managed to keep schools open and to keep life close to normal without seeing any worse case surge than we are experiencing. Perhaps the Governor should acknowledge that both the strategy and the execution of the strategy have been less than optimal.
Now I will tell you that one ironic possibility, as is often the case, is that we will manage to put these additional restrictions in place just as cases are peaking anyway. So the Governor will attempt to take credit, but let us all keep in mind that they have now told us that it takes four weeks for the effect of new measures to be seen.