Gym class is one of few parts of high school – mostly junior high – that I’ve actively tried to blot from my mind. Don’t get me wrong – some of the gym teachers at my high school might not have been sadistic sociopaths. Some of them may have grown as human beings. I’ll leave it to divine judgment.
I do remember that many of ’em, when they weren’t articulating the humor they found in making the less team-sports-inclined kids feel like fish out of water, communicated primarily in slogans, to the depth of “no pain no gain” and “loooong slow distance” and other such repositories of the wisdom of Western Civilization. I don’t remember much, but I remember the slogans.
I thought about that when Governor Walz explained his new testing policy on Friday. Emphasis added by me:
Gov. Tim Walz coined the phrase “Minnesota moonshot” to refer to his goal for COVID-19 testing in the coming weeks.
It’s a “moonshot” because the level of testing he says is necessary is hard to imagine in current conditions.
Over the past six weeks, Minnesota labs have run more than 39,000 total tests statewide. Before the state begins returning to normal, Walz said he was aiming for some 5,000 tests per day or 40,000 a week.
And another story came out Friday as well, spelling out the details. I’ve added some emphasis:
Walz has said that a massive increase in testing — both tests that diagnose people who have the virus and tests that determine whether someone has developed antibodies to fight the virus — is necessary to restart parts of the economy.
Walz is planning to use $36 million from a state COVID-19 fund for the first phase of a several-step process: A three- to four-week period in which Mayo Clinic and the U of M will create a central lab to accommodate the expanded testing. Clinics and hospitals around the state will also be ramping up their efforts to take samples from potentially infected patients, which they will then send to that new central lab
The state is also planning to establish a virtual command center, to coordinate the state’s response with health care systems across Minnesota. The center would help determine where the tests are needed most on a given day, and how best to quickly address outbreaks that occur.
A new website, in which patients can see exactly where all the testing sites are among other resources, is also in the works.
Well, I”m glad there’s a plan.
Or was, anyway.
The sharp-eyed among you, and those that still pay attention to the Minnesota media, may have noticed something – the first story, announcing the Governor’s “moon shot”, was a month ago, and the bit with the “details” – really, a list of aspirations fit entirely for public relations use, which is all it takes for most Twin Cities media to run the story – came out a week later. A month after the “moonshot”, after the “three to four weeks” the governor called out for getting the state – with its formidable concentration of hospitals and immense public health bureaucracy – up to 20K tests a day, we’re noodling along around 5,000, on a good day, and that’s pretty recent.
And you can scan the Twin Cities media every day looking for any sign that a single reporter is going to follow up on the complete flop that Walz’s slogan turned into.
Not only are we testing at 3/4 the rate of South Dakota, and 1/3 the rate of North Dakota – we’re lagging every Minnesota “progressive’s” rhetorical punching bag, Mississippi, by a solid quarter.
Governor Walz is a gym teacher. God love gym teachers – but chanting “no pain, no gain” isn’t going to move any needles.
Not outside of Twin Cities newsrooms, anyway.