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Today in the Reformer:
Emily Allen, a registered ICU nurse at St. Joseph’s Hospital in St. Paul, writes about the calm before the storm and pleads on behalf of her fellow nurses to abide by social distancing rules.
Rilyn Eischens offers a trove of COVID-19 data that she’ll be updating daily: Confirmed cases, testing, the unemployment rate, executive orders of Gov. Tim Walz and national coronavirus data.
Stunning figure in the unemployment data, as reported by Ricardo Lopez: of the 150,000 Minnesotans who filed for unemployment in the past week, more than 60% are from women — nearly double the usual rate.
Women are bearing the brunt of coronavirus in other ways, according to new polling from the Kaiser Family Foundation. (With a major hat tip to the excellent newsletter from the new nonprofit news site that covers women and politics, The 19th.)
Women are more likely to be worried about getting sick, having a loved one get sick, losing income, not being able to afford health care related to the virus and feel stress about the pandemic. Women are also more likely to have prepared for the outbreak by buying food and supplies, followed social distancing guidelines and cancelled travel.
As the calypso song (and Harry Belafonte and Grateful Dead cover) goes, Man Smart, Woman Smarter.
Forgive my pop psychologizing here, but among the voices we see on TV and around President Donald Trump saying we should all get back to work, they’re mostly men. (Bloomberg reported Tuesday, for instance, that Trump held a conference call with hedge fund and private equity titans Kenneth Griffin of Citadel, Paul Tudor Jones of Tudor Investment, John Paulson and Blackstone Group Inc.’s Stephen Schwarzman. Because these are the people we want guiding our public health policies?)
Some of this is just due to the fact that Trump has fewer women advisers and TV surrogates around him. But here’s more pop psychologizing: There’s a certain kind of (likely white) alpha male who is ill-equipped to deal with the pandemic because he has little familiarity with the powerlessness that it imposes.
Hence all the “It’s just the flu” and “Only 5% of the population is at risk,” when neither is true. (And as we’ve discussed in this space, 5% is a lot anyway.)
Interesting that Rep. Liz Cheney, the daughter of a man so conservative at one point his heart literally had no pulse (I’m joking but it’s true), disagrees with some of the male voices in her party and said, “There will be no normally functioning economy if our hospitals are overwhelmed and thousands of Americans of all ages, including our doctors and nurses, lay dying because we have failed to do what’s necessary to stop the virus.”
NYC, for instance, with COVID-19 doubling every couple days and now more than 25,000 cases and more than 3,200 hospitalized. Think things will be going back to normal at Easter there? No.
Another interesting thing about the gender imbalance of this crisis, as pointed out to me by Ricardo Lopez. The Great Recession was toughest on the construction industry and so a crisis for men. COVID-19, affecting hospitality, health care and office workers, will hurt women more.
Especially if men don’t take it seriously and do what they’re told by health authorities.
Speaking of Liz Cheney’s native Wyoming, they’re not doing so well with their social distancing, according to aggregated cell phone location data that is apparently available: Washington Post. By contrast, Max Nesterak reports Minnesota got an A grade! (Never been so happy to live among such good Germans!)
But shame on those who are hassling Asian-Americans. MPR reports a bevy of reports from Asian Minnesotans getting blamed for the coronavirus. And MPR reporter Hannah Yang has her own depressing story about nasty remarks at a grocery store.
“I prayed that the voices weren’t referring to me. But sure enough, when I turned my head toward the direction of the whispers, I saw an older white couple who had their eyes on me with laser focus. They then began to go about their business like nothing had happened.”
Minnesota nice is often a fraud.
The Legislature returns
The House and Senate come back into session Thursday at 2. Joint statement from DFL Speaker Melissa Hortman and Senate GOP Majority Leader Paul Gazelka:
“We are continuing to work closely with the Walz administration on urgent COVID-19 matters to protect the health and well-being of Minnesotans. We will publicly release details on specific legislation on the House and Senate websites as soon as we can. As we convene, we will do so in accordance with guidelines from the Minnesota Department of Health to keep members, staff, and the public safe.”
We don’t really have a public Legislature these days. It’s essentially a kind of mixed government war cabinet.
Big workers comp issue
A bunch of fire, EMT, nurses and police are going to get sick with COVID-19. Once they do, should there be a presumption of workplace illness and thus workers comp? Seems like they should. And who pays? (Gonna be really expensive.) Workers are holding a news conference Thursday before the legislative session at 9. Note the Senate sponsor is Republican Jeff Howe, Rep. Dan Wolgamott carrying in the House. Not clear if it will be in the big COVID-19 package.
After our commentary on public comments on Line 3 ran Tuesday, Walker Orenstein reports that MPCA extended the public comment period. Reformer gets results! (I have no idea if these two things are related but it’s fun to think so.)
Don’t look to how the Chinese stopped coronavirus in Wuhan because it’s unlikely we’d take the draconian steps the authoritarian government there engaged in, the Wall Street Journal reports, h/t Max:
What really turned the tide in Wuhan was a shift after Feb. 2 to a more aggressive and systematic quarantine regime whereby suspected or mild cases—and even healthy close contacts of confirmed cases—were sent to makeshift hospitals and temporary quarantine centers. The tactics required turning hundreds of hotels, schools and other places into quarantine centers, as well as building two new hospitals and creating 14 temporary ones in public buildings. It also underscored the importance of coronavirus testing capacity, which local authorities say was expanded from 200 tests a day in late January to 7,000 daily by mid-February. The steps went beyond what’s envisioned in many hard-hit Western cities.
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Have a great day all! JPC