Okay, I Do Have a Few Comments on the Recent Press Briefings

By November 19, 2020Commentary

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Join the discussion 17 Comments

  • David Krieg says:

    Thank you for sharing your data concerning “covid 1984”. I received an e-mail from my district rep., a Dem who voted every time to renew Walz’s tyranny. The e-mail was titled, ‘New Covid Restrictions to Combat Surge of Virus’. My response: “The only thing Democrats are combating is the liberty of free citizens. If an actual hearing was held concerning this virus, the evidence would show corrupted and altered “facts” to continue a power-grab. Shame on you for your continued support of government overreach. You are complicit in the mental, physical and financial ruin of thousands of families and businesses, many in the district you pretended to represent.”
    Thanks again for keeping us informed.

  • researching says:

    Life expectancy in Minnesota in 2018 was 80.9 years.
    This is approximately the average age of deaths whenever you look at the age buckets of the daily MDH situation report.
    And yet it seems neither government or media outlets mention this, or question what it may mean with respect to lack of MDH data transparency about PCR cycles, “with” vs. “from”, etc.

  • Excellent summary. Thank you for all of your great work.

  • Douglas Kraus says:

    It really doesn’t matter if they have the timing of restrictions right. If they get it right, they will claim victory, if they get it wrong the blame us for not doing as we were told. And IB will always tell us how much worse it would have been with out the restrictions.

  • Chuck says:

    Thank you Kevin!

  • Jennifer Gobel, MD says:

    Dear Kevin: Thank you for all of your dedicated work on getting actual facts out to at least some of us who are willing to listen to common sense. As a busy private practice pediatrician, I don’t have the time or energy to do the exhaustive research you are doing and I greatly appreciate the medical literature you are bringing forward and especially appreciate your commentary. And you make me laugh, which I really need given the situation we’re in. One of the few good things that the Academy of Pediatrics has done in the last few months is to to rightfully insist that children are being harmed immeasurably by lack of in-person schooling. The harm they are suffering is not being adequately reported on in any of the main stream media, and any mention of the parochial school experience in Minnesota is completely ignored by the Governor and the MDH. What better case study do the school districts need than the private schools in their own districts? I take care of kids who attend private (mostly Catholic) and public schools and the difference in the happiness level of the children and their parents is astounding, with the private school kids of course being the happy ones. The level of sadness, worry and downright despair I am seeing EVERY day in my clinic is appalling and something I have never seen before in my 30 plus years of practice. Any help you can give me (or all of us) in finding more papers supporting children being in school rather than in the disastrous “distance learning” would be most appreciated. You are sir, a true public servant.

  • Kevin Roche says:

    I am very flattered that you read the blog and hope you find it useful. Thank you for all the work you do every day to help our children. And I simply am horrified by what we are, in a very cavalier way, doing to this most precious research. I am going to copy and paste your comment into a post, without identifying you, unless you want to be identified. People should hear that there are physicians who are extremely concerned about the impact of children missing real school.

  • Dan Smith says:

    I’m interested in your response to the Governor’s assertion that the published number of people infected in outbreaks tracked by MDH (about 7000) is really an undercount, so the fact that 243,000 positive cases can’t be explained by blaming bars, restaurants etc shouldn’t change his approach.

  • Chuck says:

    Excellent post Dr. Gobel!!! Thank you so much for providing the “real world” reality. It will never undo the harm that has been created. Thank you Dr. Gobel and thanks again to Kevin for providing the forum!

  • ganderson says:

    I’m guessing that Governor Baker (aka “Tall Deval” or as Slow Joe calls him, “Charlie Parker”, our own IB) is going to lock the state down again today. Yesterday I got both a text message and a voicemail informing me of the rules for Thanksgiving- no more than 10 people, no one from outside the household, etc. Jesus wept.

    Many school districts are going back to 100% remote; I assume that will be part of the commonwealth wide order, and I’m anticipating that HS winter sports, which were supposed to begin after New Years, will be cancelled as well. UMASS hockey is supposed to open its season tonight- the opponent was to have been Maine- but the Black Bears cancelled, so theoretically the Minutemen are playing UCONN tonight and tomorrow. We’ll see. All the major officers at UMASS, including the head of the Amherst campus, Kumble R. Subbaswamy, and the system president Marty Meehan, are Branch Covidians, as are all the presidents of the 5 colleges in our immediate area. Meehan, by the way is an exemplar of what the great Howie Carr calls “the hackerama” – if you look up “time-serving hack” in the dictionary you’ll find Marty’s picture. We already have a statewide mask mandate, (including, supposedly, when playing golf, although at my course no one does) and a statewide 10pm to 5am curfew, although I’m not sure what that means, exactly. Oh, and we’re getting the message that just because there’s a vaccine doesn’t mean we’re going to loosen restrictions. Fill in the following: “______ the goalposts” And it that’s not bad enough lots of talk around here about not being able to buy food or go out in public without proof of vaccination. I’m not particularly religious- a conventional Catholic who’s gonna do a few thousand years in Purgatory (if I’m LUCKY!), but I find myself thinking “Mark of the Beast”?

    Now I’m just a dumb Catholic boy from St. Paul, but won’t locking down just lead to another SURGE!!!! SPIKE!!!! CASES!!!! down the road, at which point we’ll be locked down yet again? Someone on another forum made the observation that there will be more Christmas celebrating in China than the US this year. Maybe I’ll go visit my son in Chengdu and celebrate Christmas there.

    So we’re now in our eighth month of “two weeks to flatten the curve”. I have to admit that I am scared, frightened, and depressed about what’s happening in the US (and many other parts of the world): a stolen election- ridiculous lockdowns, governors hectoring their constituents- anyone catch Cuomo yesterday? And Trump’s the rude one? And I see no path to any of this going away anytime soon. Somebody cheer me up!

  • Kevin Roche says:

    It is convenient that the contact tracers can’t seem to figure out how the majority of cases occur, and then the governor can use that to justify orders by saying we don’t know where cases are occurring but we think it must be here. I think that segment is just an easy target and he feels like he has to do something.

  • Peggy A Lewis says:

    Hi Kevin…

    I found you right at the moment I felt as if I couldn’t take another Walz fireside chat with Jan and gang. So depressing. He closed my little hair salon/suite down in March and he stocked the fires of hell lying dormant inside me. I didn’t realize how unfair I could be treated after having dedicated 33 years to my little business – taking such good care of my clients, following the rules and pushing harder knowing that the final decade of work was upon me only to feel like “girl interrupted” or something. Being told you can’t work to earn a living is strange beyond words.

    Please look further into the PCR Test. Help us to understand why so many cases …so many asymptomatics…why, why, why. The lateral flow seems to detect less as its a quick test detecting proteins? Are the infirm dying with Covid or of Covid, and will we ever know? Is this a power grab of is Tim Walz just a milquetoast follower intent upon pleasing his base? Will there be long lasting immunity or a nightmarish situation were we are getting inoculated as often as our dog groomed? Does that even happen? Like, I feel like I’d eventually have tracks on my arm like some heroine addict!

  • Kevin Roche says:

    I am sorry about your business, you can tell I think those orders were excessive and made no difference. I believe there are a lot of asymptomatic cases because most people’s immune systems are perfectly capable of handling an attempted infection, it just isn’t much of a threat to the general public. It seems clear now that people who have been infected do have a strong adaptive immune response. And I suspect the vaccines will work fine. Don’t despair.

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