Surprising Nobody (Who’s Been Paying Attention At All)

“Unexpectedly”, Minnesota’s neighbors – well, at least the ones run by people who came up through the world of business, rather than public employment or the non-profit/industrial complex – are kicking Minnesota’s passive-aggressive tush at dealing with Coronavirus.

You could look at it in terms of deaths per million (South Dakota is 1/3 Minnesota’s rate; North Dakota, half). You could look at it in terms of ICU utilization (all are doing all right, but it’s interesting to imagine how much better the lower-density states would be doing but for the ravages of Obamacare on rural healthcare).

Oh, yeah – and testing?

Which Governor Walz, for about the tenth time in six weeks put out there as the dispositive factor in re-opening, notwithstanding the fact that Minnesota’s bureaucracy is no better at un-flattening the curve with tests than it is at managing its budget?

Oh, what do you think? Numbers as of yesterday.

North Dakota 54,330
South Dakota 22,009
Nebraska 21,253
Iowa 21,206
Wisconsin 17,695
Minnesota 17,625

Bear in mind, progs in the audience – this is in terms of tests per million.

The businesspeople – who largely happen to be Republicans, but that’s more an effect than a cause – are doing the job better.

Suppose Minnesota will learn the lesson?

32 thoughts on “Surprising Nobody (Who’s Been Paying Attention At All)

  1. I noticed this, too. I’m thinking that I may move to SD after I retire.

  2. Excellent commentary from Katherine Kersten in the Strib about the Minnesota fiasco. Linked at Powerline plus I think the paywall is down. No surprise to most of SITD followers of course, that Governor Walz’s leadership has been AWOL and FUBAR all at once. Great how military acronyms describe it. Walz reminds me of Field Marshal Montgomery without the beret. Paralyzed by analysis. Risk averse to a fault. Unaware of the concept of opportunity costs.

  3. Walz reminds me of Field Marshal Montgomery without the beret. Paralyzed by analysis. Risk averse to a fault. Unaware of the concept of opportunity costs.

    Another (amateur?) military historian. Fine comparison, nicely done.

  4. I see more & more governors shifting the goalposts from “stop the hospitals & ICU’s from being overwhelmed” to “universal test & trace.”
    You can’t do test & trace when you have as many active infections as we have in the US. The testing regime can’t be implemented on a scale of millions & repeated frequently enough to make it work. Plus the “trace” part is vaporware. Trace, FYI, means that anyone the infected person has been in contact with must self-quarantine. People have an incentive to NOT cooperate, and the existing tech used to trace contacts has failed miserably and can easily be defeated.
    Identify & protect vulnerable populations. The rest of us should use purell & stay home if you are sick.
    The masks are useless, most people aren’t using them right. No one is treating the masks as though they have captured any biohazard material on its interior or exterior.

  5. In Hawaii, the caseload is so low that contact-tracing might work.
    But only if the current lockdown is maintained indefinitely. Normally there are 30,000 tourist arrivals & departures every day, from all over the world. That number is down to less than a hundred.
    And I have yet to hear a good explanation of why covid-19 has such a small fingerprint in Hawaii.

  6. As stated by Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm, ““We’ve known since the beginning that long term care facilities … face an elevated risk for outbreaks,” I am confused why did it take until Thursday May 7th to announced a five-point “battle plan”. Just wondering

  7. I don’t believe Walz and his crew are going to do anything pro-active to get things on their way back to normal until someone else does (other than patting themselves on the backs).

  8. I would like to challenge any one to look at the graphs showing deaths per day in Sweden and Minnesota & show me where Walz’s lockdown has saved lives.

  9. To be fair to Minnesota, we do have 2/3 of our population living in an urban center with lots of mass transit, and the other states do not. But that said….hey, if mass transit is an issue, maybe….shut it down or severely restrict it for a while? And if the virus can go like wildfire through hospitals….maybe treat people with COVID in small, dedicated hospitals where it’s harder for things to get out?

    Maybe the issue isn’t whether we do social distancing at all, but rather whether we do social distancing in the things that matter. You won’t get liberals advocating against mass transit or centralizing hospitals anytime soon, however.

  10. I am more than ticked off that the lefties who want the shut down to continue because “science”, don’t want to acknowledge the scientists, including a Nobel prize winner, that say that the shut down was the worst thing that the country could have done.

  11. Whether it works or not, Sweden is providing the world with a quasi-experimental control condition that will inform second-wave responses everywhere.

    Which is great, unless you’re part of the control group.

  12. Sweden’s death by covid-19 aren’t an outlier. Sweden’s per capita deaths are far lower than Britain, France, Spain, and Italy, all of which have strict lockdowns. And Sweden’s numbers are dropping.
    Beware of the imagination! A “second wave” exists solely in the imagination (at least, so far). Do the math and show me your work, don’t tell me that “assuming mandatory lock downs slow the spread of the disease, then when the mandatory lock downs are lifted we can assume that there will be a second wave.”
    In my state, the public health director says that a second wave is “inevitable.” Bullshit. She doesn’t know if there will be a second wave any more than I do. I know what I do not know, she does not know what she does not know.

  13. United States, the UK, and Sweden deaths per million to covid-19.

    The first thing that you notice is that the graphs all have a similar shape. They all peaked in Mid April. The UK and Sweden graphs are especially closely matched.
    The UK has a uniform, strict shutdown. The Swedes have a relatively weak shutdown (bars & restaurants remain open, but large venues are forbidden). The US has shut downs that vary widely between jurisdictions.
    Yet all of the US, Sweden, and the UK saw their deaths per million peak around April 20. All are declining at about the same rate.
    If I left the country name off of the graph, you would have a hard time telling which line represented which nation.

  14. The informed, educated Swedes trust themselves, each other, their transparent institutions and government.

    So socially distancing, sanitisers, masks and general common sense to prevent the spread of infection occurs without much fuss.

    Nobodys running around with guns demanding for the right to be infected and attack democratically elected officials and frontline health carers like in the US

    The point is not that “doing nothing” yields roughly the same result as we’re seeing in the US. The point is that Sweden planned their approach against a backdrop of a much stronger safety net than we have.

    The Trump administration had no plan, either in the abstract or for the pandemic they were warned about. We had no choice but to hide in our houses.

  15. You are talking nonsense, Emery. I want data, not crackpot opinions.

  16. Without a vaccine or a cure, we are all basically in a giant queue, waiting to catch it. Herd immunity seems almost a rude word in some circles, but is there any alternative in sight?

    Lock-downs are a way to buy time and not overwhelm the healthcare system. However, they are not sustainable for the length of time required to find a permanent solution. It would be interesting to know if they actually save lives or just spread deaths over a slightly longer period. Hats off to Sweden for what it seems like a painfully pragmatic strategy.

    Statistical comparison between countries is still immensely problematic. There is a huge variation in how deaths are reported and classified. There are large a variable administrative delays in reporting deaths. We will also have to factor in indirect deaths (as a result of lock-down or reluctance to attend hospital), avoided deaths (eg reduced road casualties) and displaced deaths (brought forward from later in the year). 

    It will be a while before we know what worked best. 

    Check out the excess mortality statistics here They currently show Sweden has had 28% more deaths (2,300 up to April 21) than it would normally have expected, which correspond fairly closely to its actual death toll unlike some other countries. 

  17. Without a vaccine or a cure, we are all basically in a giant queue, waiting to catch it. Herd immunity seems almost a rude word in some circles, but is there any alternative in sight?

    Remember “fifteen days to slow the spread”?
    That was the justification for the shutdown in the US.
    Now that that goal has been met with unqualified success, due to the shutdowns or not, what is the current shutdown supposed to accomplish?
    No one is asking, at least not in my state. The governor makes a proclamation, and he and his public health advisers get softball questions. No one mentions that the “fifteen days to slow the spread” goal has been met.
    We are going to be shuttering hospitals and laying off needed medical personal for no articulated reason.

  18. I’m not advocating that we should immediately follow Sweden’s lead. But perpetual lockdown is not a solution to the pandemic. We now know US death rates are highly concentrated with certain populations and that actual case incidence is much higher in our overall population.

    Sweden’s confirmed coronavirus deaths, on a per capita basis, are 50% higher than the US’s, and their death rate curve is climbing. This is a good thing?

    Dr. Inglesby who is the Director of the Center for Health Security of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health states that roughly 90 million Americans fall into the category of “high risk’ individuals. How do you segregate nearly 1/3 of the US population?

    At some point, people will realize that “developing herd immunity” is code for doing nothing and letting the virus keep killing lots of people until everyone who could ultimately be susceptible to dying from it is dead. This is a strategy?

    Meanwhile, the US has largely wasted the last three months with wholly inadequate testing, contact tracing and isolation protocols in the wake of a completely incompetent response at the federal level.

    The US will be ready to reopen whenever we can manage to get the job done right. We are nowhere close to that.

    The only thing we are close to is more American virus carnage, led by a president who never had any business being president.

    Of anything.

  19. The heavy hand of STiD moderation strikes again.

    The world would benefit from more countries adapting different strategies for Covid-19, so we could learn what works best to balance the economic and health challenges. Strange as it may sound, we should watch closely what happens in Belarus as their ‘head in the sand’ strategy plays out. If nothing else it will be an interesting control data point.

  20. One huge difficulty in comparing U.S. and Swedish death rates from this; New York State is apparently just making a couple of changes after a couple of months of disaster. First, they’re allowing nursing homes to refuse to care for patients with COVID-19, and second, they’re finally deciding that sanitizing subway facilities each day just might be a good idea. New Jersey’s in the same spot In other words, despite our stronger nominal policies regarding quarantine/social distancing, our governmental “leaders” left the barn door wide open to the most obvious and lethal routes of transmission.

    Paddyboy wanted to point at Trump for his part in the disaster. May I suggest that that finger ought to be pointed at Governor Cuomo and the New York State (and City) Department of Health, and that whoever was responsible for this really belongs in jail. There are forgivable mistakes, and there is “we’re OK with leaving bum **** on the subway during an epidemic.”

  21. Woolly: Israel is about the same size in population as Sweden, more crowded, and has about 1/10 the number of deaths.

    So please don’t tell me about how great the Swedish approach is. What are they really doing — sacrificing seniors so people can go to restaurants?

  22. wake of a completely incompetent response at the federal level.

    The response at the federal level seems to be to let the States manage their response (within reason) to the virus based on local data. Want to see incompetence? Let’s have the federal government run everything from the top with a heavy-handed one-size-fits-all approach (Tried it a few years ago, called it “ObamaCare”). The thing is, we have incompetent or power-hungry state and local officials that realize only after 6-7 weeks that nightly cleanings of subways or not forcing nursing homes to readmit still-COVID-19 patients is a recipe for disaster. Iowa does not have subways, never mind that none of its urban centers come close to approaching the population-density of NYC. What makes sense (or should have made sense 6-7 weeks ago) in NYC does not make sense in the Plains.

    And something tells me if Trump had adopted a federal-government-forces-universal-solution approach that his critics on this seem to clamor for, and it didn’t work, that you’d all just acknowledge it is/was the wrong approach and not hang the blame on him.

  23. EI, Israel has about 5 million citizens, about half the population of Sweden. It’s close to Norway, though, which is a lot closer to Sweden in demographics.

    Israel’s got a bunch of differences, starting with mean age, mean temperature, mean sunlight, and the like. I would tend to agree with you that Sweden is having difficulties that Norway is not (and vice versa if you swap sickness for economics), and this may have something to do with how they’re handling things, but let’s get our facts straight here.

    In the end, though, the key question is whether we can be done with this without achieving herd immunity. The examples of Australia, New Zealand, and Germany suggest it can. But at the end of the day, we are still hoping and praying that this virus will mutate out of existence or simply fail to be replicated until it’s gone.

  24. I added Israel and a few other countries to the graph of deaths per million.

    My point is that the shape of the curves of all the countries is very similar, with peaks at a similar time, in mid-late April.
    All of these countries had different approaches to “flattening the curve.” If social distancing legal requirements (or their lack) were a significant factor, you would see it in the graphs. But you don’t.
    It is not clear that lock downs of healthy citizens are doing a damn thing, other than cratering the economy.

  25. It’s almost as if every epidemic follows the same basic pattern, or law, like the one Old Man Farr devised in the 1840’s. Which, of course, is totally invalid nowadays, because sexism, and modernity, and Orange Man Bad.

  26. Trump whines about states not being open for business, I have to wonder why the WH is not open for tours. Lead by example….

  27. Trump whines about states not being open for business, I have to wonder why the WH is not open for tours.

    Are WH tours essential business?

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