I don’t mean to pick on the Governor of Minnesota. I am impressed by his articulateness, verbosity and apparent sincerity. But I listen to the daily briefings, like Monday’s, and it is just the same messages that aren’t really accurate.
As usual, a lot of the talk is about how we have to be safe, we can’t open up until it is safe. I want to make two points on this. One, the Governor is a main perpetrator of the widespread anxiety in the population, this completely exaggerated notion many people have about their risk of getting seriously ill from coronavirus. He needs to stop that and start talking about how low the risk is to the vast, vast majority of Minnesotans. Otherwise we will never get consumer spending going again, everybody will be cowering in their homes. And unemployment will stay very high for a very long time. Two, Minnesotans really are safe. This virus is deadly to certain groups, like the infirm elderly. For the average person in good health, the risk that they get infected, become seriously ill and die is truly miniscule. That becomes more and more apparent every day. So stop scaring people and stop using supposed safety as a justification for not ending the business shutdown and stay-at-home orders.
I am getting a little tired of hearing the Governor harp on the Minnesota way, and how we are all in this together. The clear implication is that anybody who disagrees with his approach is “un-Minnesotan”. I suspect he is talking to the same people every day, especially the public health “experts”, who tell him everything he is doing is just great. And when he talks to business leaders, he is talking to people from large companies who are making a lot of money and don’t have anything to worry about. Maybe he should get out and talk to some of the small business owners he has shut down and meet a few of the unemployed workers he has created, it won’t be hard to find them, they are everywhere. A little more dissent might ensure that the Governor is more “data driven”, another of his favorite words, and considers the data on what his orders are doing to Minnesotans.
Tuesday’s briefing was not attended by the Governor and focused on the issues in nursing homes and other senior living facilities. To date, 113 of 160 deaths attributed to coronavirus in Minnesota have been deaths of persons living in these settings. If you took this subpopulation out of the Minnesota modeling, and ran it as a separate group, the case and death rates would look very bad, and conversely, the risk to other Minnesotans would be obviously miniscule. Now let us go back to the start of the epidemic in the United States, which was in Washington state and had a locus at a nursing home. By mid-February at the latest it was apparent that people in these settings were at extraordinary risk. Yet despite constant proclamations that we are doing every thing we can to keep people safe, Minnesota somehow has pretty much completely failed to do that for this most at-risk group. So as far as I am concerned, you can drop the “safety” meme. Especially because life ain’t so safe for the 500,000 jobless Minnesotans right now.