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So Friday, March 19th the Minnesota State Government took time for a press conference to update citizens about what they are doing  I’m gonna give you a summary based on the FB Comments I made during the presentation.  [Not sure the time stamps match his live feed video… technology…] And then at the bottom, is an update from Monday, March 23rd.  The difference in these two press conferences was stark and I wonder what I will think when this blog posts in a week.

Link to the Transcript.

Governor Walz starts off with a note that “this is how it will be” as a daily press conference. [Little did he know he’d be in quarantine by Monday… This thing move quick and this blog is mainly a record of what happening in MN as they began to respond to Coronarivus (COVID-19).] He does stress that this is moving dramatically…

Walz: 26 more positive cases to 115. 2 in ICU. Upside is Mayo Clinic!! Reduced queue for sample testing. Still struggling to get all the reagents needed… [That is not good. Without reagents, no tests.] Defense Production Act – gives government authority to convert factories for fighting COVID-19. Anderson Fabrics stepping up!! Transitioning to make scrubs… Mall of America – open space to convert to whatever we need in an emergency.

2:08  Food will be the MAIN JOB this year  There was a strong focus on food being a primary job for us this year.

2:09 Federal healthcare for Tribes. TOTALLY Unprepared. That is criminal.   Walz noted federal guarantee for education and health care but 571 Tribes with 2.5M members – health 37 ICU beds & 181 ventilators across the country…

2:10 Good financial reliefs.   30-day sales tax, moving income tax filings and payments to 7/15.

2:11 What about rural hospitals who will be understaffed?  Executive Order 2019 stops elective surgeries. PPE limits. Looking at PPE inventories. Strategic National Stockpile wait has been fruitless…

2:12 National Guard being federalized sucks. MN can do better than that clown car crew.  Walz talked about being part of the Govern’s Council and how National Guard is commanded by Governor – Title 10 federalizes them for service and MN is asking for Title 32 authority – Allows State Duty with Feds footing the bill.

2:23 Its trying to balance Overwhelmning our Hospitals with Isolation, with keeping things running economically (at least enough to keep people fed). Isolate too much and economy dies. Produce too much and you increase contagion and soon overwhelm hospitals. Delicate balance. Want to know more? Peak Prosperity on YouTube. Chris Martenson has been laying it out for the last 57 days. https://youtu.be/QVQC1hAYZBs?t=1406   Walz discussing current state – mostly good but not as thoroughly as Martenson does. EO signed to prohibit price gouging. Notes he couldn’t get things through the Senate but is doing EOs to get needed things done. [Are Republicans working for their monied base while Dems are working to save lives of their constituents? Hmmm…]

Chris Harrisman takes over… “Thank you Governor. Let me start by saying globally we are at more than 246,000 cases and 10,000 deaths. The United States has reported more than 14,000 confirmed cases and 205 deaths as of this morning. In Minnesota, as the Governor said, we added 26 new laboratory confirmed cases of COVID-19 today, for a total of 115 cases. The age range of our cases remains the same at 17 years to 94 years. We have not yet had any cases in children. New cases are from the following counties; Hennepin, Ramsey, Chisago, Fillmoore, Olmsted, Martin, Scott and Rice counties.” [Thanks for the transcript, Rev Transcripts!!]

2:25 No treatment. You are contagious before you know it. By the time you have symptoms, you likely already have lung damage (that may be long lasting).
You DO NOT want to get this.
STAY HOME!!   2:26 Shelter in place please   Harrisman was clear about no counties being safe in MN. 4000 tests since March 1st. 8 of 15 cases hospitalized; most healing at home. Closings designed to SLOW THE SPREAD. Sick pppl going to work or being in public is exacerbating the problem. Don’t call doc if you wouldn’t have last year for same symptoms. No Treatment. No meds to prescribe. Seek medical care for breathing difficulties. Testing (prioritized) is being completed as we have capacity.

2:27 This is what we have left of a government. Listen close people.   2:28 Lockdown coming – maybe today??? If we’re smart. NOW. The longer we wait, the bigger the possibility to overwhelm hospitals to a point where we are making VERY DIFFICULT decisions. Like who gets a bed and who is sent home to die.   Food will be our focus. That is a good sign.  

Transition to Emergency Manager Joe Kelly. “I’m Joe Kelly. I’m the state Emergency Management Director. I want to talk for just a few minutes about what we do in the State Emergency Operations Center. Most Minnesotans probably aren’t familiar with it. It’s a facility that’s hosted by the Department of Public Safety and it really serves as a single point of coordination for state government, and as the Governor pointed out, our interaction with the Federal government.” Volunteers at food banks are a big need.

Transition to Steve Grove @ Employment & Economic Development. “Hello everybody. I want to give a brief update on how our economy is doing. The most effective way to do that is to talk a little bit about the state’s unemployment insurance program. As you saw earlier this week, the Governor has opened up that program to any worker who was affected by the Covid-19 epidemic, so we’ve seen of course an influx of calls and applications into our state’s unemployment insurance program. So far, as of 8:00 PM last night, we’ve seen 95,352 applicants to unemployment insurance in Minnesota. Just to give you some context, the previous record in a given week was about 18,000, so these are some pretty historic numbers. About a third of the individuals applying thus far have come from the restaurants, bar, and entertainment industry, that’s 36,942, and about 85% of the people applying right now have never been on unemployment insurance before, so they’re learning about this new system, the benefits, how it works, why it matters.”

2:29 ~100K applicants 5X WOW.   2:31 By Monday. Good plan. I think the call center just went down… people gonna be calling now!!!   Put citizens on remote work doing call center work? Steve Grove?  

Transition to Heather Mueller @ Dept of Education. “I would like to take this opportunity to thank our state agencies for really lifting up and supporting our students and families and ensuring that throughout our communities that we continue to work toward their safety and their health and wellbeing. As the Governor alluded to, our educators throughout the state have been committed to ensuring that our families have and students have the food that they need as well as the healthcare that we need, the childcare support that we need for our healthcare workers and our first responders. And yesterday, as an example of just a snapshot of one day, we had 118,238 meals served as well as 5,190 students who are school age, who are in our schools getting the support they needed so that our healthcare workers in our first responders could attend to the needs of our community.”

Transition back to Walz. “The thing I would say that we need to guard against: rumors, misinformation. We need to understand that there will be changing data. That’s one of the reasons standing up this event and using the trusted websites where you get information about what’s happening in Minnesota so that we keep people in a place where they understand there are systems, there are protocols, there are people there and Minnesotans take care of one another. So I can tell you that will not change.”

Walz: “So my pledge to you Minnesotans is to understand and I want to make clear to employees, employers, and everyone, this is an unprecedented decision that has not happened in our country, that these either mayors or governors are making. They are doing it with the best information possible to save lives. And you can rest assured here that Minnesota is well-positioned with experts in infectious disease. It’s almost every night, most of the guests are from Minnesota that are on addressing the nation about what needs to be done. Next.”

Walz: “And I think what you’ve seen out of this team before those decisions are made as many of the contingencies, and I’ll be just candid with you, we can’t think of all of them. We’re doing the best we can. But for example with school closings to make sure there was a place for meals and daycare before we announced it. And as you’re seeing because that decision was made, we are serving those people.
Same thing before we were going to close bars and restaurants, I needed to have the capacity to provide unemployment insurance immediately, and I needed to make sure I could waive that waiting period, so checks start arriving next week for people to continue on. I will tell you that that same decision-making process is in place with this. I understand that just I believe since we came in here that Governor Pritzker of Illinois has made this decision. You’re going to see this start to happen. I think states are at different positions along the spectrum of this. The testing capacity we have and some of the modeling that we are now doing with experts both inside government, with the University of Minnesota, and outside government is giving us a better picture.”

Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm, left, discusses how the state is preparing for COVID-19, the coronavirus sweeping the globe, during a news conference with Gov. Tim Walz and legislative leaders at the State Capitol in St. Paul on Monday, March 2, 2020. (Christopher Magan / Pioneer Press)

2:33 This thing is way more deadly than you can imagine. Look at Italy and tell me why OUR lungs are any different than THEIR lungs…   Walz stressed it is important to NOT overwhelm the health care system, which ALSO has to continue doing all the regular work of broken legs and such.

2:34 D for Diploma!!  Federal waiver possible… Kids may get school cancelled for this year… and seniors might be granted diplomas based on current standings.

2:38 Work on the video for tomorrow. Really need a closer look at speakers when they present. And access to the visuals that are readable. And hopefully all the sound glitches will be easy to fix. But overall? This is a VERY COMFORTING and seemingly PREPARED and HONEST look at what is needed. Finally seeing your value Governor Tim Walz Well done, sir.   Already on Day 11 of self-isolation. But been locked down since 3/3 except for a quick run to the store on 3/9.   Nice job on that school transition.

Q&A Continues…

2:41 10 Governors kick one irresponsible and self-absorbed President’s ass.   Media is essential.   Walz agreed. He’d mentioned his Governor’s council too.

2:43 Shelter in Place ASAP for best results.   Too late to bend the hockey stick… Don’t have SIP yet… but we will.

2:46 This is going to spur innovation… re-tooling for what the people as a whole need. Working together. ❤ Jan Malcolm: “We’re still trying to get more clarity from what we might expect from the federal government, but as the governor said, we’re also looking to make sure that if there’s anything we can do at the regional or state level to increase, diversify the supply chain, we’ll be doing that.”

Walz: “All I can tell Minnesotans is that the reagents and the things necessary to do the test are not available anymore, and so we are out searching. Mayo is doing this. One of the things I’ve asked our team to explore is let’s just make it here. If we need to, let’s just start manufacturing here. I say that not knowing how long it takes to stand up a factory to make reagents. Those are things I’m asking my team to get to us so that we can become self-contained.”

2:49 Good TRANSPARENCY on the Tax info, Governor Tim Walz   2:50 Just found out the IRS changed… we’re already working on it. But will assure that info was accurate…
OMFG. That is hilarious!! Cynthia Bauerly: (39:17)
Governor, we need the notice from the IRS. The IRS has not published anything. Governor Walz: (39:20)
Very good. We need a notice from the IRS officially. I was speaking from the guidance out of the president’s press conference. Probably a good idea we get it verified, so thank you for that.

This was an interesting and revealing question: “The last part of that was just about the supply chain with medical protective equipment. The feds said today that FEMA has helped clear up some confusion by states on where to get things can. Can you tell us, how confident are we that we’ll start seeing some of those federal supplies or some of those supplies coming in, even any kind of timeline?”
Walz: “Yeah, I may defer to Joe on this. I just tell you, with my experience of working with FEMA and the regional directors on flooding, these are career professionals who’ve done this type of stuff before. They’ve got us different types of equipment. I think that should help clear that up.
But to be candid with you on the question, I don’t believe we can… And we haven’t. We’ve simply gone on our own, and you heard this. Governor Baker from Massachusetts, and we’re doing this too, we’re going out and trying to purchase these things where we can. In his state, they had two purchases ready to go. They got outbid. The outbidder was the federal government, and then took that into the national system away from the state. We hope, and Joe, maybe you can speak to this, we hope this eliminates some of those types of things and puts a much more streamlined supply chain in place.”

Question on unemployment insurance… Steve Grove: “Okay. The question on unemployment insurance, we are not worried about the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund. We have $1.5 billion in that trust fund, and I said before we have about 95,000 applicants thus far this week. We’ve done some modeling to look at how long that trust fund itself will stand solid. If we had, let’s say, 120,000 applicants to UI over this time, and they took the average amount of payout, which is around $400 a week, we’d only go through a third of that in 12 weeks. Now, those numbers certainly could be higher than 120,000. If we had 300,000 workers on the program, for example, which would be about 10% unemployment, we would go through that trust fund in 12 weeks, but the federal government has always been clear in situations today and in the past that when state trust funds run out, they provide 0% interest loans to back up that fund, and so we aren’t worried about the validity of the fund.” Independent contractors and others will be assisted as well – looking at that…

2:53 Good thinking outside the box on ideas for exercise… What is safe?   2:56 Good question…   We’re all in prison now…   Golf courses open for access – no clubhouse – good idea!

Department of Corrections also a concern… Food and cleaning are main concerns per Walz. As well as justice work…

2:31   Modeling… Good question. Also asked about possible shortages on beds/ventilators.  Malcolm: “Just been working… 3 days or so… model is being built.” Walz: Lack of testing inhibited model. “Getting R under 1″ models estimate – will get to you. . numbers too rough now to have a sense of confidence about them.” Malcolm: Can’t have a MN specific model yet… Community mitigation measures in place… “don’t have numerical precision”… “range estimates not as precise” When do you expect to have it? Walz: U of MN national experts… Going to get it to me over this weekend.
2:59 Yes it does…   They know the numbers. They are too afraid to tell you what they are…   That is NOT a difficult model… Watch Peak Prosperity on Youtube.   3:00 Exponential Growth. He knows about R0 so he KNOWS what the models show. We WILL BE overrun.   3:01 Look At Italy. Two weeks from now, it’s the US.   In MN, TC will be hit first.   3:02 Rural hospitals have about 4-8 weeks.

Question about Alcohol/Food delivery take-out. Walz says a STRONG online presence for this!!

Question on whether this is only in the four counties of concern. Malcolm: 15 now but important to reiterate community transmission is happening across the sate. 3:06 YES. It is everywhere. Maybe those remote farms are safe if they don’t leave. Assume you’re gonna be exposed if you don’t isolate soon.

Partial order from National Stockpile received… not clear on remainder of shipment.

3:08 Probably want to assure these stay open… even if it means National Guard… This medicates us…  On liquor stores. Walz gave some great stories in last 4 minutes of the conference and recognized the needs of some who have few resources. Stay Home MN.

3:09 Be nice to your local Millennial!! You’re gonna need internet connection. Walz notes to thank those serving us.

Posted after the Press Conference:

Governor Time Walz SURPRISES THE FUCK out of Daniel and me. We listened to this entire thing and found the group to be solution focused – all the way up to “can we make reagents here?” YES. SMART people are working on this for Minnesotans. And they were largely transparent… with one critical exception – on when hospitals will overload. (They know what the model says already. We are behind the eight ball and they know it. Perhaps hoping all this other good news will make up for the bad news we will be getting shortly…) Lots of good news in here though!! Especially his focus on FEEDING ALL the people. And re-tooling manufacturing as Healthcare becomes our new economy. … Good news for Minnesota. Looks like OUR government is stepping up and doing all they can to keep us safe.     

3/23/20  Live Update from the Walz Administration [My comments in brackets,,, with Dan’s input.]

Heard before call: Governor is now in self-quarantine – Bodyguard tested positive. Peggy Flanagan’s brother (TN) died from CV.  Governor Walz added: Amy Klobuchar’s husband is hospitalized.  

Here are my notes from the call:

Walz: 40-80% infection expected – vast majority without hospitalization. Cases went from 169 to 235 –>  Better feel.  982 tested yesterday.  Reagent supply chain issues… Exec Order pending – putting off elective veterinary surgery to manage supplies for people. Gov/VP call – request for Title 32 from President – 502 authority to be expanded… Can use the National Guard with federal dollar support.  PPE too. Moving toward feds meeting our needs… (not there yet). Models… getting preliminary data. [I call BS… they just don’t want you to know the numbers…]

Two impacts:
R0 – how many people are affected by exposure Medical care – ramp up ICU/Ventilators/PPE/Tests MN Revenues and expenditures – postponing revenues coming in… less resources to do work. EO 2013 – National Guard – moving PPE from Camp Ripley.  Delivering food and other work pending. #StayHomeMN EO 2014 – Suspends evictions statewide moratorium EO 2015 – Small business relief (unemployment) SB and Independent Loan Program – forgivable? (for next few weeks?) EO 2016 – PPE inventory EO 2017 – adding elective veterinary surgery to EO 2008

Complex, ever-moving.  Trying to clarify and think of all situations. No revenue April, May, June (tax relief)  

Jan Malcolm @ HHS – cases/deaths continue to rise 350K+ globally.  35,241 with 473 deaths in US.  Learning from speed of spread in other states.  Half of cases are in NY (17K) with big #s elsewhere WA (2K) NJ, CA, FL (1K) 21 patients in MN hospital w/ 12 remaining/5 ICU – other recovered.Front Lines are being tested.  Virus is circulating in ALL communities. Ill? Stay home and monitor symptoms. 800 calls had a light day. Open 7A-7P daily 651-201-3920

[Then she fucked up (IMO)… ]

HealthCareWorkers w/ COVID-19 – strictly based on occupation, not signaling exposure at work.  No exposures from patient care. [WTF???  Maybe not YET… WHY ARE YOU SAYING it is NOT – “based on our data”… when we KNOW it IS a risk from around the world???]

Joe Kelly @ Homeland Security: Acquiring and distributing PPE (National Guard helping) Self-service gas is a risk – if you touch a surface, wash hands. Wipe surfaces we share.

Steve Grove @ Employment & Economic Development: Unemployment Insurance & SBA Disaster Loans available – Emergency loans to bridge gaps from Federal funds available $2500-$35K  50% forgivable and 0% APR (will help 1200-5000 businesses statewide) [How many in State total??] Available later this week.

Localities have $58M in city and county loan funds possibly contributing more [To keep groceries running?]

Heather Mueller @ Education: Serving meals and giving school age student care.

Walz: Backlog on unemployment insurance approvals – to assure no fraud. Guard leadership taking care. [Dan: Likely to be deployed Friday… when checks stop coming.] Assisted living cases.  [We SHOULD have started that work when the first case hit Washington.]

Q: Coughing?  Jan: take all symptoms seriously.  Difficulty breathing or Fever over 104degrees? Seek medical care.  Not fine to circulate if you have symptoms.

Q: Inventory reporting by businesses – gonna commandeer?  Walz: State has capacity should we need these supplies.  Businesses are voluntarily doing this already. Will ask but we do have Executive Authority.

Q: How soon until Shelter in Place? Walz: 7-8 states already in place. Spoke with Ebers/Whitmer over weekend.  MI early today, WI tomorrow.  MN???  Decisions to be made with best data we have.  Not total agreement.  Has it worked to shut down restaurants/schools? What does modeling show?  Real time data now. [We don’t have time to wait for the modeling. But you know that…]  Need social compliance to keep people in for a longer time-period.  Won’t just be “Shut down for two weeks and it will pass”. [REALLY glad he is saying this EARLY. First official we’ve heard.] Need people working to keep things running. See where states are moving…  Taking a hard look. People can go to stores, stores will be stocked.  Pick up Rx at curbside stop.  Not announcing today.  Data and science provide no clear-cut answer but will decide in best way for Minnesotans to keep people from the hospital as long as possible.

Q1: What are WI/MI seeing that you are not yet seeing?  Walz (answered after below question): Hard decision.  Agonizing.  Lack of data… Best judgment.  [Dan: Just tell them, Tim, you’re balancing flattening the curve with keeping the economy from crashing.]  Learning to this not being a shelter in place for 1-2 weeks; looks like multiple weeks to months.  Didn’t have testing – but now we do.  [Dan: You know why all our disaster movies are people escaping just in the nick of time?  Because that’s what humans do…]

Q2: Extending school/business closures past end of this week? Walz: YES.  Not wanting to send a mixed message in transition.

Summary Walz: Need compliance to stop the spread. [And they’re working to gear up the National Guard for the pending riots.]  Minnesotans seem to be spacing, wearing protective gear.  Even a complete shutdown will allow people to get groceries and required services.

What can people do? 

  • If you are able and financially capable, stay home.
  • Food Shelves are #1. 
  • Blood donations needed. 
  • Don’t panic buy at stores and help a neighbor.

Q – Steve at AP: Virginia cancelled classes for the year. Considering that?  Walz: Considered everything. May be necessary and we’re trying to project for people to give insight.  Meanwhile we’re doing well now to provide kids with education.  Teachers are being appreciated!

This phone system is how this will work.  I am overwhelmed with asks of what people can do. And companies are stepping up here.  And Minnesota is helping other states. 

That’s the update.  Now that we’re here – Monday March 29th – I’m interested to see how different a state we are in one week from the day this writing was done.

Good Luck, Everybody.