I don’t want to sound like a whiner, but if the Minnesota DOH would just think about what they are doing, and whether it actually may hurt their messaging, Dave Dixon’s and my life would be a lot easier and the public would have better data and better data analysis. As you saw when we finally get some kind of reasonable data that we can use to calculate case rates, you see what you would expect–the vaccines are doing a good job in limiting hospitalizations and deaths in the most vulnerable, older groups. Why make us pull teeth to reach that conclusion? The data difficulties just lead people to conclude, likely correctly, that DOH is trying to hide something.
And for people who think we should just take DOH’s word for what the data says or rely on things like their per capita data, you are missing the point. First, there is no reason to accept that the data analysis they put out is completely accurate, too often we see data revisions, missed data, other inaccuracies. In regard to breakthroughs, for example, it appears that different amounts of time are spend on identifying breakthroughs every week, and that accounts for much of the variability in events reported from week to week. When the data gets pretty complete, the trend is quite clear. (I am tired and forgot the following points in the original of the post.). And just in the past week, DOH has acknowledged they were having difficulty in timely processing of cases, and today they couldn’t get deaths processed for the daily report. So I doubt the breakthrough identification process or data are particularly clean.
But most importantly, any truly open society gives its citizens access to data so the citizens can check it and the conclusions drawn from it. Many times, not surprisingly, their are private citizens who may be more skilled with data analysis than state employees are. The state should seek and welcome collaboration with these individuals but instead tends to try to shut them out or undermine their work. Dave and I aren’t the only people working on Minnesota data, a number of other people are doing great work and you can generally find them on Twitter.
I have mentioned the data practices act requests I have sitting at the state. Unfortunately I have concluded that DOH is intentionally treating my requests differently and dragging their feet. So I have engaged with the Upper Midwest Legal Center to help obtain the data. This is an organization which frequently fights against government wrongdoing and I encourage you to donate to aid in their work. I have made very substantial donations to the group. And I have asked them to make a new data practices act request to ascertain if the state is intentionally responding to my requests in a dilatory fashion.
As any of you who interact with me know, I generally try to get along with people, be helpful, be responsive to questions and requests, but I am also kind of the wrong person to pick a fight with if I feel strongly about something, and I feel very strongly about the rights of all Minnesotans to see all the relevant data around the epidemic.