Coronavirus in one state (108)

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Over the past three days the authorities have attributed 14 new deaths (10 of the 14 were residents of long-term care facilities), 7 new deaths (four LTC), and three new deaths (one LTC). The epidemic presents a serious health hazard for the elderly infirm. Of the three new deaths yesterday, for example, two of the three decedents were in their 90’s. The other one was in his 80’s. The median age of decedents whose deaths have been attributed to COVID-19 remains 83 while the average age of death in the state from all causes is about 80.

Governor Walz inflicted enormous damage on our hospitals and health care systems with his March 25 shutdown order. Kevin Roche and I touched on the subject with information available as of mid-May in our Talking Minnesota article “False alarm”. Yesterday Fairview Health announced that it is closing one hospital, repurposing another from a general purpose facility, and turning out the lights on 14 clinics in Minnesota as well as two more in western Wisconsin, all as a result of epidemic-related financial losses. See the Star Tribune story “Fairview cuts include Bethesda, St. Joseph’s hospitals; 900 jobs to be lost” and the MPR story “Fairview to shut Bethesda, St. Joseph’s hospitals in St. Paul.” As a sign of the times in the Twin Cities, Fairview’s Bethesda Hospital near the Capitol in St. Paul will be leased to Ramsey County to be used as a homeless shelter. St. Joseph’s downtown will become a “community hub for health and wellness.”

The Minnesota media have made themselves an adjunct of Governor Walz’s public relations for rule by edict. Yesterday’s press briefing (audio below) was representative. MPR’s Catherine Richert wanted to know if case increases in rural Minnesota might be accounted for by skepticism about Walz’s mask mandate. Infectious Disease Director Kris Ehresmann talked around the question briefly when she obviously found herself unable to answer it directly. (Kevin Roche answers Richert’s question in “What’s next?”) In other questions President Trump’s visit to Minnesota last week immediately before his positive test for the disease remained a fertile source of useless inquiries.

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