Coronavirus in one state (88)

3 mins read

The Minnesota Department of Health alerts us to the news that Governor Tim Walz signed a State of Minnesota Proclamation directing all flags at state and federal buildings in Minnesota to be flown at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Wednesday, August 19. He ordered flags to fly at half-staff on the 19th of every month through 2020 to remember, mourn, and honor lives lost due to COVID-19.

The MDH email reiterates the heart of Walz’s proclamation: “Over 1,700 of our mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, husbands and wives, friends and neighbors, have passed due to COVID-19. Deaths due to COVID-19 are disproportionally affecting Indigenous communities, communities of color, people experiencing homelessness, older adults, and individuals with pre-existing conditions and disabilities. We come together as one community in these challenging moments to mourn and support each other.”

The “one community” line is a killer. Note how the proclamation itself slices and dices it. As Oscar Wilde put it in another context, you’d need a heart of stone not to laugh.

Yesterday the authorities attributed 17 new deaths to COVID-19, 7 of which occurred among residents of long-term care facilities. The youngest of the decedents was in his 60’s; 7 of the 17 were in their 90’s. The percentage of all decedents who were residents of long-term care facilities has drifted down to 74.7 percent, but it remains the most notable element of the epidemic in Minnesota.

We have not had as many as 17 decedents since June 19. What is happening? Kevin Roche wrote me to express the view “that most of the deaths reported [yesterday] go back several weeks. The lag has gotten absurd and I think [death] certificates are being changed retroactively.” Kevin promises an update on this point some time soon. You can be sure that the question wasn’t raised in yesterday’s press briefing (audio below).

At about 23:00 the Star Tribune’s Chris Serres follows up on his story regarding nursing home inspectors: “Minnesota is among a number of states that do not require long-term care inspectors to be tested, despite growing concerns that people who are not showing signs of the illness could unknowingly spread the virus.”

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