Minnesota’s Covid-19 strategy has gone from ‘Two weeks to flatten the curve’ to ‘Indefinitely to eliminate the virus completely’

On Friday, I wrote that:

When he issued his stay-at-home order (SHO) on March 25th, Gov. Walz said that it was already impossible to lessen the number of Minnesotans who will become infected with Covid-19. The point of the SHO, he said, was to ‘flatten the curve’, pushing down the peak of infections by slowing the spread of the virus so that the health system’s ability to cope would not be overwhelmed: “The thing that Minnesota is going to do is ensure if you need an ICU, it’s there.”

The disaster in Minnesota’s care homes notwithstanding, the state government has accomplished what it set out to achieve when it issued the SHO on March 25th. Indeed, it achieved it nearly four months ago:

On April 29th, Gov. Walz announced:

“I today can comfortably tell you that, when we hit our peak — and it’s still projected to be about a month away — if you need an ICU bed and you need a ventilator, you will get it in Minnesota.”

At that time, Version 2 of the state’s infamous model forecast a peak of 3,700 Minnesotans needing ICU treatment for Covid-19 on July 13th. Version 3 forecast a peak of 3,397 on June 29th. In fact, the peak – so far – came on May 30th with 263 Minnesotans needing ICU treatment. And now, Minnesota has 1,049 ICU beds out of 1,222 in use with a capacity of 2,182 at 72 hours notice.

But now comes this creepy new video from the Minnesota Department of Health:

Part of the script reads:

“But to remain safe, in the long run, its up to us all to take actions that don’t just slow the spread of Covid, but collectively overcome it…There is no return to normal, but, going forward, we will return to something more”

This is a direct repudiation of Gov. Walz analysis of March 25th: that the spread of Covid-19 can only be slowed, not stopped. It is also a direct repudiation of his ‘Two weeks to flatten the curve’ strategy: these measures will, we are now told, stay in place until the virus is completely eliminated. And, finally the prospect of us getting our old lives back is gone. This, the state government now tells us, is the new normal.

This, when just 0.7% of Covid-19 cases outside care homes in Minnesota have resulted in death. It is also not clear that such an aim is even possible. The BBC reported last week:

Coronavirus will be present “forever in some form or another”, a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) has said.

Sir Mark Walport said people would need to be vaccinated at regular intervals.

Sir Mark said denser populations and travel meant the virus spread easily.

He also said the world population was now much larger than in 1918.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Sir Mark said that, in order to control the pandemic, “global vaccination” would be required, but coronavirus would not be a disease like smallpox “which could be eradicated by vaccination”.

“This is a virus that is going to be with us forever in some form or another, and almost certainly will require repeated vaccinations,” he said.

“So, a bit like flu, people will need re-vaccination at regular intervals.”

“Buckle it up for a few more weeks,” Gov. Walz said, nearly 22 weeks ago. Somewhere along the line we went from ‘Two weeks to flatten the curve’ to ‘Indefinitely to eliminate the virus completely’, and it happened without anybody telling us.

John Phelan is an economist at the Center of the American Experiment.