Here is a quick status report before we get to the meat of the post. Minnesota’s per capita death rate is 952 per million. Sweden’s is 861. Florida’s is 1024. Age-adjusted, we are worse than Florida. The US average is 1084, thanks to states like New York and New Jersey. Minnesota is generally ranked 1 or 2 in the country for population health, with Hawaii, so it isn’t because of general health conditions that we find ourselves with a significant death rate. And the home state of the Mayo Clinic constantly talks about what a great health system we have. So it isn’t access to good health care. Must be another explanation; one the Governor of course isn’t going to mention–a completely, 100%, incompetent administration.
And the media will assist them of course. The truly hilarious moment of the last CV-19 briefing of the year was the Commissioner of Health expressing their extreme gratitude to the members of the press corps for “helping them get the messages out”. This deeply ironic statement couldn’t be more accurate. The media was a very willing participant in the Governor and his staff’s campaign of terror that literally killed Minnesotans, their jobs, their education, their businesses and their family and social lives. All to sell a few more subscriptions and ads. The profit motive is alive and well. Real journalism is completely dead. The state’s assertions were rarely questioned. Persistent, probing investigations into serious issues like PCR test thresholds, the accuracy and effectiveness of contact tracing, attribution of hospitalizations and deaths to CV-19, and the many harms caused by the state’s response and the Governor’s reckless and baseless orders were never done. The press was as credulous as the bulk of the population. Whatever they say just must be true.
The other interesting moments of that last briefing also reflect the most prominent feature of the state’s epidemic response–that all-encompassing ineptitude. An explanation was attempted for why our state has one of the slowest vaccination rollouts anywhere; and even the explanation was incompetent if the purpose was to counter the impression that we don’t know what we are doing. The explanation did shed light on why the rollout is slow–the people responsible for planning and executing it are, to put it mildly, neuron-challenged. That includes the IB, who we were told ultimately makes all the vaccination program decisions. God save us all.
And a reporter, in a dubious tone suggestive of disbelief, brought up the recent claims by some state legislators that perhaps our death attribution is, shall we say, inaccurate. The state gave two inconsistent responses. One was that we follow national guidance, the second was that of course we check all alleged CV-19 deaths to make sure that someone who, let’s say, died from a car accident couldn’t be included. The national guidance would include them if they had a positive test somewhere along the way and we have included something like 10,000 deaths nationally to reflect that fantastical guidance. And I believe Minnesota does have among its death count some similar situations or worse. Here is how we will figure that out. The state can give us the full list of names of everyone it has counted as a CV-19 death and we will check the death certificates. Maybe some journalist will even sponsor a serious chart review of these deaths allegedly caused or contributed to by CV-19. Oh wait, what am I thinking, this isn’t 1973.
I am not in any manner being facetious in calling the response totally bungled. Here is the big picture on what happened in Minnesota. We had horrific data, an even more horrific local model, a panicked Governor who could only do what everyone else seemed to be doing, and a complete disregard for the best interests of all the people of the state. So we did really stupid things like close schools and businesses, shutter health care facilities, causing a layoff of staff who would be needed later and doing untold health damage to seriously ill persons, and telling people to stay at home where they were most likely to be infected. When it became apparent, as it should have been from the start, that 50,000 Minnesotans under the best scenario were not going to die and hospitals were not going to be overrun, instead of a mea culpa and backing off, we got an ongoing campaign of terror.
When the summer could have been used for real school and activities for children in a low prevalence environment, we got continued limitations. Although everyone predicted a renewed wave when conditions for transmission likely became more favorable in the fall, we were apparently totally unprepared and the Incompetent Buffoon issued ever more restrictive orders. Through it all he and his administration simply lied to us about the causes for case surges and declines and the likely futility of actions like his orders, and continually blamed Minnesotans for any adverse developments while attempting to take credit for positive ones.
The big picture is that he and his administration have been wrong about everything, completely clueless on the epidemic’s course, in denial about the damage they have and are causing, and their actions now are all designed to demonstrate that their incompetence was not that, but instead a necessary course of conduct. That is why they cannot, under any circumstances, admit that cases have now declined, as they always do, in the natural course of events, or relent on any emergency status or orders. To do so would be tantamount to admitting error.
And what aspect of their response has not been overflowing with error? Modeling? Contact tracing? Testing? Hospitalization attribution? Death attribution? And now vaccination. And most of all, do not ever forget the “battle plan” for long-term care residents, a program which will long be remembered in infamy, engendering large numbers of deaths from friendly, or not-so friendly, fire.
But, do not fear f0r the feckless members of this administration, for blessed is the path of those upon whom the media smiles, and all their days shall pass without judgment and just punishment being called down upon them; these wicked souls who have so grievously sinned against the people of Minnesota, and the people shall be forced to wander in the desert for many more months and suffer the tribulations of an inept and uncaring regime.
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You are spot on. Walz response and actions have been inept and ineffective from the start. He is still at it even now with the vaccines. As they are doing the vaccinations they are giving them to many people who have had COVID-19 and fully recovered from it. They are vaccinating people who are already immune. I cannot think of any “science” that would be a rationale for this, but I’m sure Walz can come up with one. But then, maybe I missed something.
Great summary of the political response, Kevin. I’m a MA and FL guy, so MN isn’t directly adaptable, but at least I’m lucky enough to spend part of the year in a state at approaches an intelligent virus response (FL) and another part where we have our own buffoon (MA). The differences are staggering, and the fresh air of freedom in Florida TASTES GREAT, as Tony the Tiger would say> 😀 🙂
“Minnesota’s per capita death rate is 952.” Please correct this this to say “per million,” as I believe it should be, rather than “per capita.” I’m unable to quote your otherwise fine article with verbiage that my picky relative will jump all over.
I’m at the point where we have to fight fire with fire. Snap pictures of DFL legislators and staff members wherever they go to make sure they’re following their own rules, buy giftcards to businesses who publicly announce that they won’t ever serve Gov Walz or legislators who vote in favor of lockdowns, and make their lives as miserable as possible (within all legal bounds) wherever they go. Gov Walz isn’t going to give up his emergency powers unless he realizes that they’re going to be taken away from him. The state senate needs to oust Jan Malcolm from her post as of yesterday immediately after the insane ruling she made forcing high school and youth athletes wear masks while playing (while basketball and hockey are beyond ridiculous, how about downhill and cross country skiing?). All other cabinet posts where the state senate has confirmation powers need to be looked at immediately as well. We need to organize groups where 10-20 people all go into grocery and retail stores without masks within a few minutes of each other and see if anybody says anything. If nothing is said and others (who fully realize how stupid and pointless masks are) see it, they’ll be more likely to go and shop without masks as well. Let’s make it so there’s so many cases of restaurants opening and retail stores not enforcing mask mandates that Keith Ellison can’t possibly worry about them all.