Daily Reformer: Shelter from the Storm

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The Legislature is back in session Tuesday. COVID-19 issues only for the moment. The Legislature is back in session Tuesday. COVID-19 issues only for the moment. State budget director Myron Frans is at Ways and Means to talk about the quarterly economic outlook (yikes!) and what the feds will give us. Senate coronavirus working group is also meeting. House and Senate are in session tomorrow. 

President Donald Trump, under increasing criticism for his slow response and denial of reality of COVID-19, retweeted someone calling for the firing of his top infectious disease scientist Dr. Anthony Fauci. Of course. 

Here’ the Times mammoth six bylined piece on Trump’s early response:  

“Throughout January, as Mr. Trump repeatedly played down the seriousness of the virus and focused on other issues, an array of figures inside his government — from top White House advisers to experts deep in the cabinet departments and intelligence agencies — identified the threat, sounded alarms and made clear the need for aggressive action.” 

At the Reformer, Gender Justice’s Megan Peterson on COVID-19 through the gender lens

ICYMI: Ricardo Lopez had a quick profile of Sen. Scott Jensen, who’s become an emerging voice in his party for coronavirus minimalism, against the grain of other public health experts. 

Max Nesterak scooped the first two cases of COVID-19 among the homeless population. 

Apropos: Chris Serres at the Star Tribune has a good piece on the encampments of people who are avoiding homeless shelters because they rightfully fear COVID-19 in the shelters. (See Max’s piece on that here.) With hardly any sanitary facilities, these encampments are also likely to become vectors of the disease, unfortunately. 

Rilyn Eischens brings us up to date on Minnesota and some national data, with Minnesota hitting triple digit new cases Sunday. 

The most concerning piece of data I saw this weekend, however, was this piece in the Times that showed the number of overall deaths in New York City (coronavirus and non) was twice what would be expected in a normal month. They expect the number to rise even more with more results coming in, but:  

“Even if the current count is perfect, roughly 9,780 people have died of all causes over the past month in New York City, about 5,000 more than is typical.”

They have a good graph that takes you back to 9/11/2001 in which they show monthly deaths. It’s startling. 

In other words, as this piece in the Post also reports, if anything, coronavirus sickness and death is being underreported. 

A shoutout for Minnesota in this Politico piece for taking early action and limiting the spread: 

“In the seven days before April 7, when the virus accelerated in the U.S., Minnesota had 8.3 infections per 100,000 while New York City had 418.”

As I predicted last week, Gov. Tim Walz’s policies will come under attack; not for failing but for succeeding. The more successful they are, the louder the calls to undo them. 

Minnesota is also the lead in this Post piece about the cutthroat global competition for supplies, which, rather than being properly managed by the feds, is actually being driven by them, according to the Post’s reporting. 

“Elsewhere, some governors and lawmakers have watched in disbelief as they have sought to close deals on precious supplies, only to have the federal government swoop in to preempt the arrangements. Officials in one state are so worried about this possibility that they are considering dispatching local police or even the National Guard to greet two chartered FedEx planes scheduled to arrive in the next week with millions of masks from China, according to people familiar with the planning. These people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, asked that their state not be identified to avoid flagging federal officials to their shipment.”

Finally, I was struck by Chris Martin’s rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Shelter from the Storm” on “Saturday Night Live at Home” this weekend.

‘Twas in another lifetime, one of toil and blood

When blackness was a virtue the road was full of mud

I came in from the wilderness, a creature void of form

Come in, she said

I’ll give ya shelter from the storm

Not only is it a fantastic song, but I remembered the liner notes from its album, Blood on the Tracks, written by Pete Hamill. The plague he’s referring to is the great malaise that enveloped America in the time of the Vietnam War: 

“In the end, the plague touched us all. It was not confined to the Oran of Camus. No. It turned up again in America, breeding in-a-compost of greed and uselessness and murder, in those places where statesmen and generals stash the bodies of the forever young. The plague ran in the blood of men in sharkskin suits, who ran for President promising life and delivering death. The infected young men machine-gunned babies in Asian ditches; they marshalled metal death through the mighty clouds, up above God’s green earth, released it in silent streams, and moved on, while the hospitals exploded and green fields were churned to mud.

“And here at home, something died. The bacillus moved among us, slaying that old America where the immigrants lit a million dreams in the shadows of the bridges, killing the great brawling country of barnstormers and wobblies and home-run hitters, the place of Betty Grable and Carl Furillo and heavyweight champions of the world. And through the fog of the plague, most art withered into journalism. Painters lift the easel to scrawl their innocence on walls and manifestos. Symphonies died on crowded roads. Novels served as furnished rooms for ideology.

“And as the evidence piled up, as the rock was pushed back to reveal the worms, many retreated into that past that never was, the place of balcony dreams in Loew’s Met, fair women and honorable men, where we browned ourselves in the Creamsicle summers, only faintly hearing the young men march to the troopships, while Jo Stafford gladly promised her fidelity. Poor America. Tossed on a pilgrim tide. Land where the poets died.

“Except for Dylan.

“He had remained, in front of us, or writing from the north country, and remained true. He was not the only one, of course; he is not the only one now. But of all the poets, Dylan is the one who has most clearly taken the rolled sea and put it in a glass.”

The plague can be a great metaphor. A little too real at the moment. 

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Have a great day. JPC