We’ve been hearing stories now and then about protesters showing up at political rallies with guns, and that’s been a cause for alarm, but Nick Ferraro of the Pioneer Press provides a story from Mendota Heights that may help to put this into context: Apparently there are gun owners who will wear guns to do anything, even pick up trash along the side of the road. A group called Minnesota Carry Permit Holders headed out Sunday to clean up litter along two miles of highway, and every single one of them had a gun on them. MnDOT spokesman Kent Barnard is quick to point out that both picking up litter and packing heat is legal: “Now, if we had the perverts and pedophiles out there, that would be a different story.”
It would be nice if all the H1N1 stories were like FOX9’s from Friday, in which we learn that USA Hockey, the organization that oversees American amateur hockey, is telling their players to keep their gloves on during the post-game handshake; presumably angry players are likewise not allowed to fling their gloves off before fighting on the ice, but then, that probably was never officially sanctioned.
Alas, not all H1N1 stories are like this; instead, many tales of H1N1 are of a growing medical emergency and a rush to provide a vaccine, and of casualties along the way. The disease’s status as a national emergency became official Friday, when Obama named it that at a press conference, as the Associated Press reports. Warning that H1N1 could “overburden health care resources,” Obama authorized Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to simplify the process of providing treatment for the illness, bypassing federal rules.
Belatedly, the vaccine is starting to make its appearance locally: Park Nicollet, in St. Louis Park, was one of several local hospitals that provided the first available round of shots this past weekend, and was booked to capacity, according to WCCO’s Darcy Pohland. Scott Seroka of KARE11 interviews Park Nicollet VP of Primary Care Joan Sandstrom, and gets an approximate count of the number of shots and nasal sprays administered: “We got about 17,000 doses total and yesterday [Saturday] and today [Sunday] we probably gave close to 1,300 doses each of those days.”
Pointing out that the vaccine is arriving later and in smaller amounts than was promised, an irate commenter on the Star Tribune’s Web site complains that “Governmental errors are killing people.” In fact, last week the Pioneer Press reported three deaths from the disease, and this weekend brought news of the death of Mike Milbrath, the executive vice president and administrator of Waseca Medical Center in the Mayo Health System, who had been diagnosed with H1N1, reported by both the Associated Press and WCCO.
The Wall Street Journal offers a quick explanation for the vaccine’s delay: “Manufacturing problems such as low yields from an initial H1N1 ‘seed’ virus have hobbled plans for an initial delivery of a large number of doses. The seed virus didn’t grow well, which sometimes happens with flu viruses.” This has led to a lot of frustration, as expressed by MB21 on Twitter: “until ‘they’ can actually provide the vaccine I don’t want to hear another thing about it. Feels like fear mongering.” Maya Nishikawa of WCCO explains that there won’t be enough of the vaccine for everyone in Minnesota until perhaps as late as January, and that “some in high-risk categories may be left waiting.” She quotes Patsy Stinchfield, director of infectious disease at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics Minnesota: “We can’t make the biology go any faster. It’s like standing at the oven waiting for a cake to bake.”
As was reported last week, the case of the Flying Imams, the six Muslim clerics removed from US Airways Flight 300 in 2006, has been settled. The Star Tribune’s Katherine Kersten is, as you might expect, a little put out by this, calling the case a “legal war against law-enforcement personnel and safety procedures at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport,” and complaining that the imams “victory” (scare quotes hers) “aided and abetted by a judge arrogantly dismissive of law-enforcement realities — is a major setback for transportation safety.” So what was the case against the imams that encourages such contemptuousness from Kersten? MinnPost’s Eric Black picks apart the case, point by point, and find in every instance the imams were doing nothing wrong and, in almost all cases, were actually doing what the airline instructed them to. “As you review the facts of the case,” Black suggests, “ask yourself which of the ‘suspicious’ actions of the imams would have been suspicious if they had not been Muslims.“
Surveys have a majority of Americans supporting a public option in health care reform, but Pawlenty is throwing his hat in the ring with the remaining Americans who don’t, according to Polinaut’s Tom Scheck: “I don’t like government-run health care,” Pawlenty told ABC’s Topline, and said he would “lead the charge” in having Minnesota opt out; interestingly, he doesn’t mention Medicare or health care for veterans, which are both government-run health care plans, and so it’s hard to be certain if he wants to opt out on those as well, given the chance.