It’s official. Personally, I’ve been waiting for our governor to issue a stay-at-home edict for about a week now, as exponential incident cases of COVID-19 began upticks in states which have since called their own moratoria. For Walz, the limiting factor for such an announcement had to do with the number of preventable deaths in the state.
In that regard, there are two crucial numbers: the number of intensive care units, and the number of sick people needing intensive care. He has said he wants to take whatever measures are needed to avoid the latter outstripping the former.
That’s the “overwhelming” of hospitals that has happened in Italy and which legions of public health officials fear. Some data suggests Minnesotans were heeding Walz’ earlier restrictions, allowing him to delay such severe measures while his peers in other Midwest states have been stricter. However, numerous national models have projected that Minnesota will need to do more to avoid tens of thousands of deaths, including many that would be avoidable. At least some of those models appear to be a blunt instrument for Minnesota because they make general assumptions about the state’s ICU capacity and travel habits.
Walz and state health officials have said they have been working with the University of Minnesota, and perhaps other experts around the globe, to develop a Minnesota-specific model that will better predict how Minnesota should respond.
All in all, this is good news for Minnesota, even on a largely symbolic vibe. Kudos to the governor for doing his best to balance the need for prudent strategic planning with the need to keep our citizenry well-informed in a time of existential crisis. It’s had great results so far.