I really have to stop listening to the occasional coronavirus briefings given by the state. The Dictator doesn’t attend them anymore, so why should I. Today, instead of celebrating the fact that the state clearly is enjoying a hiatus, at a minimum, from the epidemic (and it isn’t even an epidemic in the state anymore according to the CDC definition), they took the opportunity to deploy more tricks and lies. The Dictator is moving the goalposts on measures for his absurd “dial-back” strategy. Instead of doing testing of 50 people per 10,000 population per week, we know will have to have 100 per 10,000 per week. Since people have to want to get tested for some reason and since they aren’t coming close to using the current capacity, what possible sense does that make?
The other measure is replacing the case doubling time, which has become meaningless because it is taking so long for cases to double, which is a very good thing, with a new measure that we can’t have a rolling 7-day average of more than 5 new cases per 100,000 population, or around 280 cases a day. I have no idea what the point of that is. Our cases have plateaued, particularly in light of greatly increased testing. Positivity rates are flat, which is astounding give the use of contact tracing now, which would be expected to result in higher positivity rates. And almost all the cases are now asymptomatic or mild.
This is a bluntly transparent effort by the Dictator to create a situation where he can justify continuing to hold onto his emergency powers, which obviously aren’t needed at this point. Minnesotans need a return to normalcy, not more of the Dictator’s constant game-playing and cute little tricks. People are dying because of the lockdowns and it is time to end them completely.
The other item that was particularly galling is the continued misrepresentation of the idea that young people are infecting more vulnerable older people, which in this state would have to mean long-term care facility residents. Since the disease obviously poses no threat to these younger people, the state has to find some other reason to express concern about their getting infected. There is absolutely no basis to the notion that infections in young people lead to infections in old people. I challenge the state to show us from any of their contact tracing where that has happened in any significant numbers. The contact matrix in their precious epidemic model shows very few contacts between these age groups. And I will show you below, that since the median age of cases is dropping in Minnesota, this can’t possibly be happening.
The state put a very telling new chart in its weekly report this week. Page 9 shows from the week of March 1 forward the number of cases by age group and the percent of cases below age 40. The percent of cases below age 40 has gone to 70%. At the same time the percent of cases in the older age cohorts has dropped. So there clearly is no substantial transmission from younger to older persons, or the percentage of cases in each age group would have stayed relatively the same.
Let me go into more detail on trends by age in cases, hospitalizations and deaths. These trends support my long-running thesis that not only is this epidemic sharply bifurcated, it is front-loaded. The virus has pretty much run through most of the vulnerable population. Starting with the report issued on May 14 and going through the one on July 2, with each report being cumulative since March 1, looking at median age for cases, hospitalizations and deaths, we can see for cases it declined from 43.8 to 40.8 in the June 11th report, to 38.8 in the July 2nd one. A total drop of five years in median age of cases. Hospitalization median age started at 61.3 years, and in recent weeks has gradually crept down to 59.8 years, a total drop of only 1.5 years. Meanwhile the median age of deaths has been remarkably stable, 83.5 years on May 14, 83.6 years on July 2. The only message that can be taken from this is that younger people have many more mild and asymptomatic infections. There is absolutely no reason to be concerned about spread among younger people, this virus is less threatening to them than the flu. In fact, the more of them that get infected, the safer the entire population is from rapid transmission. Meanwhile severe illnesses and deaths continue to be clustered among the elderly.
One more little tidbit from this report (due to my poor graphing skills it will take a while but I am going to create a handy-dandy little chart and table for you to see the changes). Let us take the age groups from 20 to 40, and compare them to the 70 and over. Cases in the 20 to 40 year-olds have risen from being 37% of all cases in the May 14 report, to 41% in the July 2nd one. Conversely, cases among those 70 and older have gone from being 15% of all cases to 11%. A perfect transfer of cases by percent. Hard to imagine a scenario in which that could happen if young people were a significant source of transmission to old people.
A quick update–after finishing this post it occurred to me to look at raw numbers of case increases by week among the 70 and over group. Here is the trend. On May 21, there were 2907 cumulative cases among this cohort, an increase of 563 in the week since May 14. In each week since then, starting with the May 28 report, the increase has been 517, 330, 265, 146, 161, and 144 cases. Yep, those young people sure are causing a lot more cases in the older folks.
Next up, I have downloaded the Minnesota death files for the last five years from the CDC website and we are going to take a fun look at trends in causes of death.