New COVID-19 cases have moved slightly up and down over the past few days, but no significant uptick has shown up in the data following the mass protests. Hospitalizations continue to fall. Moreover, new deaths have decreased drastically. Yesterday, for example, the authorities attributed only four new deaths to COVID-19, bringing the total to 1,384. Two of the four decedents were residents of long-term care facilities, bringing the LTC total to 1,095.

LTC deaths continue to run at nearly 80 percent of the total. As of today, the authorities have attributed only 289 deaths to COVID-19 among those of us outside congregate care facilities. Given the economic devastation wrought by Governor Walz’s shutdown orders, the low level of fatalities outside nursing home facilities is notable. It is way past time for Governor Walz to set us free to look out for ourselves the old-fashioned way.

At this rate, it will be hard to sustain the panic supporting Governor Walz’s exercise of his emergency powers over the details of our lives, but he and his administrators will do their best. I have embedded yesterday’s daily Minnesota Department of Health press briefing at the bottom of this post.

In case you haven’t heard (just kidding), I have a lawsuit pending over my expulsion from the daily MDH briefings on April 27. I would have had a question or two for Health Commissioner Malcolm and Infectious Disease Director Ehresmann yesterday if I had been on the call.

Which prompts me to recall a point made on behalf of Commissioner Malcolm in my lawsuit against her and MDH press officer Michael Schommer. Assistant Attorney General Oliver Larson pointed out in the hearing this past Thursday that they they don’t have to answer my questions. I can’t make them talk.

We don’t disagree on this point; we contend only that I have a right to attend the press briefings via the conference call — that they can’t exclude me for political reasons. Larson asserted that they couldn’t figure out how not to call on me with their current conference call set-up if Judge Frank ordered me back on the call. The complication is too damn high.

The COVID-19 panic is also too damn high. At about 7:00 of yesterday’s briefing, Ehresmann discusses the apparent avoidance of emergency room use by those experiencing life-threatening crises. She alluded to possible excess deaths attributable to this avoidance. Pioneer Press reporter Dave Orrick followed up on this issue at about 17:00. Ehresmann referred to national data circulated by the CDC.

MPR reporter Catharine Richert asked Malcolm about the shrinking number of new deaths at about 13:00. Ehresmann suggested they are making progress in the congregate care settings and left it at that. Malcolm reiterated this point at about 7:30.

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