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‘We’re just in the second inning’: Kashkari, Osterholm offer bleak assessment of what is yet to be wrought by COVID-19

"Face the Nation" host Margaret Brennan, Dr. Michael Osterholm and Fed President Neel Kashkari shown during Thursday's news conference.
Screen shot
"Face the Nation" host Margaret Brennan, Dr. Michael Osterholm and Fed President Neel Kashkari shown during Thursday's news conference.

One day after Minnesota moved to further ease restrictions imposed in response to COVID-19, two Minnesota thought leaders had gloomy news for what is yet to come from the pandemic.

Neel Kashkari, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, said the recovery will take longer — and the economic pain will be more severe — than even he had thought two months ago.

“Unfortunately there is so much that we don’t know right now,” Kashkari said. “Most of the news that we’ve gotten in the last couple of months has been bad news, unfortunately. It’s hard to call the bottom.”

And Michael Osterholm, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, said he expects the virus to continue to infect Americans until either a vaccine is developed and widely available or until more than 60 percent of Americans have been exposed. Neither of which will happen soon, he said.

“So when  you think about the pain, the suffering, the death, the economic disruption we’ve had to date for 5-to-15 percent (infection) and what it’s going to take to get to 60-to-70 percent, you understand why I say we’re just in the second inning,” he said. “We’re not driving this tiger, we’re riding it.”

The pair appeared as part of a video-conference panel sponsored by the Economic Club of Minnesota. The discussion was moderated by CBS “Face The Nation” host Margaret Brennan.

Kashkari said the latest national unemployment figures are “very troubling” but do not adequately reflect the problem. While the official numbers show a 14.7 percent unemployment rate in the U.S., he thinks that doesn’t count those not looking for work — or those furloughed with fleeting hopes of being recalled to work.

The real number, Kashkari said, was more likely 24 to 25 percent. That means there is less of a chance for what economists term a V-shaped recession — one that goes down quick but also recovers quickly — than there is for a “swoosh”-shaped one with a severe decline and a slow recovery.

Echoing comments Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell made Wednesday, Kashkari thinks Congress must continue to help Americans get through the recession. While he supports the paycheck protection program that gave money to smaller employers to keep workers on payrolls, he thinks future infusions of money need to go directly to families.

“People have to pay rent,” he said. “People have mortgages.”

Failure to pay not only affects those families, but it hurts the communities …. Putting money directly in the hands of laid off Americans is the most direct way to get assistance. They will use the money where it is needed.”

The first congressional stimulus was made expecting the problems would last only a few months, he said, but now that it’s clear that isn’t the case, more help is needed. 

The pair also had warnings for states like Minnesota that are beginning to reopen their economies and loosen social restrictions. 

Referencing guidelines issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Kashkari noted many states, including Minnesota, are reopening before meeting those standards. “And yet our cases of COVID continue to climb, our cases of hospitalizations continue to climb, our cases of going to the ICU continue to climb and our cases of deaths continue to climb,” he said. “So it’s one thing to have the standards, it’s another thing to actually follow the standards. It doesn’t strike me that most of the country is even following the standards.”

Kashkari said how well the economy bounces back will depend on individuals. “It’s actually not up to the elected leaders whether we reopen, it’s up to all of us whether we feel safe,” he said. “When we feel safe sending my daughter back to daycare or taking my family back to a restaurant or back to a movie theater.

“Ultimately, until we have confidence that the medical professions and the medical infrastructure really has its arm around the virus with a vaccine or massive widespread testing or an effective therapy, it’s hard for me to see going back to normal as we knew it in January or February,” Kashkari said. “That means that unfortunately the economic recovery is going to be more slow.”

Osterholm said that though the virus hits certain populations more aggressively — including the elderly, the obese, those with heart or respiratory conditions — those populations make up 40 percent of Americans. And when it comes to deciding on reopening, people will have to decide on their comfort level between what he described as two guardrails.

“The one guardrail is we can’t shut down our economy, our world as we know it for 18  months if that’s what it’s going to take,” he said. “That will destroy society, not just an economy. We can’t at the same time let this virus go willy-nilly at an unlimited level and bring down our health care system.” 

“That’s the discussion we’ve not had,” Osterholm said. “We’re far too caught up in partisan bickering and sound bites and press conferences when we need to be having discussions just like this.” 

Later, he said, “Let me be clear about this, by the time this pandemic has run its course over the months ahead, there won’t be a blue state, there won’t be a red state there will only be a COVID-colored state.”

He also said people shouldn’t be fooled by reductions or even the disappearance of infections. Every pandemic has had a second wave that strikes after complacency sets in.

“I know people will celebrate that and say, ‘Look, we’ve won,’” Osterholm said. “In fact, that might be mother nature playing the cruelest trick of all. It goes away and then all of a sudden it comes back with a vengeance.” 

Neither Osterholm nor Kashkari offered much in the way of good news, though Kashkari said it was his belief that partisans in Congress will again come together on relief efforts. 

“The best news I’ve seen is how swiftly both political parties came together and took bold action to support the American people and the American economy,” he said. “That gives me great confidence.”

Osterholm said he is optimistic that an effective vaccine will be developed — and that early tests on macaque monkeys showed that it could be effective, though it is many months away. 

But in keeping with the tone of the rest of the the event, even that presented concerns: “Who makes it, where do they make it and who gets it?” he said. “There are eight billion people who are going to want this vaccine overnight. There is no way that with years of production and administration we could do that.”

Comments (75)

  1. Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 05/15/2020 - 10:46 am.

    “Unfortunately there is so much that we don’t know right now,” Some folks believe that and some folks don’t! Constantly amazed at how many folks, don’t know that they don’t know but believe they know!

    • Submitted by T.W. Day on 05/17/2020 - 08:03 am.

      Humans are an emotional, illogical animal. The less we know, the more we think we know, and that is likely to be the cause for our extinction.

  2. Submitted by Fred Meister on 05/15/2020 - 11:31 am.

    To the author and others. I have seen Osterholm on MSNBC for 2 months now and he says the same thing everytime. We are in the 2nd inning!!!! And that this virus will hit 60-70% of our population!!!!! But offers very little proof. I dont understand how he gets tv time when he is nothing but doom and gloom and offers no new info, despite this virus peaking in some areas and going down. How can you be in the 2nd inning for 2 straight months? Someone needs to question him. All I hear is his doom n gloom for us.Sure we will experience more death and cases before it ends, but he has no proof that it wil hit 60-70% of us and if that is gonna happen why doesnt the CDC say something? It/s sad he gets air time.

    • Submitted by Sandra Nelson on 05/15/2020 - 12:35 pm.

      Mr. Meister, here’s the part you missed:
      …(Mike Osterholm) expects the virus to continue to infect Americans until either a vaccine is developed and widely available OR (my emphasis) until more than 60 percent of Americans have been exposed. Neither of which will happen soon, he said.

      Because no one knows how long the “game” is, we could be in the second inning for eight — or more — months. As for the CDC speaking out, surely you’ve read that its recent set of reopening guidelines was rejected by the White House. Trump’s censored version was released yesterday.

      What’s really sad is that Trump gets airtime.

      • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 05/15/2020 - 03:51 pm.

        Just a few examples of what we don’t know, and hence can’t predict:
        Whether there will be acquired immunity to Covid-19. Related to the likelihood of an effective vaccine.
        Whether there will be a second wave (a function of acquired immunity).
        The extent to which children are susceptible (it was originally thought that they weren’t).

        As someone pointed out; some people don’t know what the don’t know.
        The first step to answering questions is to know what questions to ask. That’s the first thing that science does. As we better understand the problem, we have a better idea of what questions need to be asked and answered, and thus how long it will take.

        • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 05/15/2020 - 06:57 pm.

          One more factor–
          The original models assumed that 80% of Minnesotans would observe the social distance recommendations. The number turned out to be 60%, slowing down recovery.

          • Submitted by Fred Meister on 05/16/2020 - 10:41 am.

            I believe Minnesotans did very good in social distancing. Whether its 60% or 80%. My point is with his 60%-70% will get the virsus. Thats 2/3 of our population. I’ll just use St. Louis County (Duluth area). We have around 100,000 people and have had only 100 cases in the whole county at this time. If we did get hit like Osterholm says. Even the low end of 60,000 cases up from 100 I just dont get how this is even possible. First of all our hospitals will be overwhelmed. I don’t even think Govenor Walz believes this or he wouldnt have reopened now would he? I see cases going down in most states of course not all states.So why are we still in the 2nd inning of a 9 inning game? Heaven forbid if his predictions happen. We might as well all hibernate for 2-3 years.

            • Submitted by T.W. Day on 05/17/2020 - 08:06 am.

              While Minnesota is leading the country in testing, we still haven’t tested anywhere near enough citizens to justify your claims.

              • Submitted by Joan Halgren on 05/17/2020 - 01:12 pm.

                Oops. We are NOT leading the country in testing! Where did you get this misinformation? We were slow to get with the program. Even when we do testing, well, we don’t have reliable diagnostic or anti-body testing since we don’t truly understand this virus! It’s a crap shoot for certain with false negatives and positives.

                Additionally, Osterholm is more right than wrong on his projections of percentages needed to quell the situation at 60-70 percent–keeping in mind building potential immunity and knowing the virus is tougher on some of this projected population than others.

                Both Kashkari and Osterholm are experts and brilliant in their fields. I trust their judgment over most others even Dr. Fauci. I know of Osterholm due to his work with AIDS since I worked at the U of M’s Hospitals and Clinics during the epidemic in the ’80s when he had the nation’s first cases at the hospital.

                So the KEY is be ‘very’ cautious. We still need more detailed guidelines too on how to handle spaces and people. U of MA Dartmouth immunologist Erin Bromage provides the best guidelines that may, indeed, shock people but help them in understanding how a virus spreads, particularly, good to know since this virus is very contagious!

                Best to all!

                • Submitted by Bradley Stenson on 05/20/2020 - 10:38 pm.

                  Instead of predictions lets use actual covid data from the health departments across this country to help us recognized the risks. I saw Osterholm on Rogan back when this started. When this hit I took his predictions to heart and looked translated reports of every new case as one with an extreme outcome and every person walking around with covid undetected as a grenade with the pin pulled. As this has played out over time I’ve studied the data and everyone is not equally at risk. Lets look at the numbers. 90% of the deaths in NY had multiple underlying conditions. The data is on the health dept website there. Its called comorbidities. They have it all laid out nicely. 20 of the 22k deaths had more than one. Also something like 85% of the deaths are over age 65. What I want to know is what percentage of those had underlying conditions? Multiple? We have the data we need people to crunch these numbers. We have reporters who dissect exit polls till the ink falls off the page and with this I see very little insight into the data. Mostly daily and cumulative confirmed cases and deaths. Who is dying? Who is in the hospital? The reporting on this is bleak. The hospital data I have seen is very clear. The elderly and very sick end up there. Go to the health department pages for each state and start looking at numbers beyond the basics. It’s all there.

      • Submitted by Fred Meister on 05/15/2020 - 09:53 pm.

        I realize exactly what he says and its the same everytime he talks….like a recording. If we are at 5-10% of the population now and need to go up to 60-70%, how many deaths would that be? Much higher than any estimate I have seen. Because with more cases you have more deaths and weve already had 88,000. So 6 times where we are and that 528,000 deaths.

        • Submitted by Matt Haas on 05/17/2020 - 11:32 am.

          Its almost like the virus doesn’t realize it’s supposed to be “over” in 2 months time, because a certain segment of the population doesn’t want to deal with it anymore.

      • Submitted by Jeff Alerex on 05/16/2020 - 03:08 pm.

        This sure is a long 2nd inning. Maybe we should change pitchers.

    • Submitted by BK Anderson on 05/15/2020 - 12:54 pm.

      I’m not sure you’ve mastered the concept of “scientific expertise”. This renowned expert doesn’t have to prove his credentials and lay out every jot and tittle of his analysis whenever he appears on the teevee for 2 minutes. And the number of places where the virus is thought to have “peaked” is quite limited, unfortunately.

      Remember Churchill? He was also a “gloom and doomer” in the 1930s. Just because one predicts gloom and doom it does not automatically mean they are wrong—even if a majority of (eternally optimistic) Pollyanna Americans think that way!

    • Submitted by Ray Schoch on 05/15/2020 - 12:58 pm.

      When we haven’t changed pitchers, but our opponent continues to score runs – that is, the number of cases, the number of hospitalizations, the number of deaths – continues to increase, even if more slowly than they did initially, what inning would you call it? We don’t have a relief pitcher in sight, much less a bullpen, there’s no designated hitter, the team’s batting average is in the dumpster, and the “manager” keeps putting amateurs out on the field when what we need is expertise and experience.

      What’s even more sad is the Donald Trump, who knows nothing of medicine or statistics, has no training or experience with disease treatment and control, and who has lived in wealth and privilege throughout his life, gets TV time to essentially deny that the pandemic exists, and that it is somehow going to disappear. He engages in magical thinking (really, no thinking at all) to an astonishing degree, because it suits his political and personal purposes.

    • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 05/15/2020 - 01:01 pm.

      “How can you be in the 2nd inning for 2 straight months?” Well, if they think this is going to go on for 18-24 months looks like an easy 2nd inning when each inning lasts 2-3 months, wouldn’t you think?

    • Submitted by Mark Ohm on 05/15/2020 - 01:06 pm.

      There’s a whole website (https://www.cidrap.umn.edu/covid-19) you can look at for proof. He’s offering his expertise on the air. He’s had a whole career of expertise and experience in infectious diseases. He knows how things work. He doesn’t have to offer proof in a TV interview. There’s no cure for the virus. It will keep spreading until there is one. There’s no national test/trace/contain strategy so there’s no stopping the virus, just slowing it down. The only thing slowing it down now is the nice weather, masks, and crowd prevention. It’s still spreading. Come fall things will likely spike again when the nice weather disappears.

    • Submitted by dan buechler on 05/15/2020 - 01:20 pm.

      Herd immunity is grounded in science. If 10 % of the population has covid so far (prob closer to 7.5

      Herd immunity is grounded in science. Read a textbook. If 7 % of the population has covid it will take 9 to 10 cycles to reach low transmission immunity. There very well may not be an effective vaccine, hopefully we’ll get better treatments and anti virals. AND there will be another virus someday. Cheers.

      • Submitted by Mike Hindin on 05/17/2020 - 07:57 am.

        Herd immunity is indeed grounded in science known in the mid 1960s when I began studying infectious diseases. You forgot one point. Herd immunity requires some level of immunity. We don’t know if and how long Covid 19 patients have immunity post infection. Small pox was nearly 100% and permanent which is how we eradicated it with vaccine and herd immunity. Some successful vaccines require boosters. We don’t have enough experience with Covid 19 to know.

    • Submitted by Tim McCarthy on 05/15/2020 - 01:26 pm.

      You berate Dr. Osterholm for offering “very little proof”.
      Yet you claim “this virus peaking in some areas and going down.” with absolutely zero proof offered.
      Is that irony, hypocrisy, or just sad?

      • Submitted by Fred Meister on 05/16/2020 - 10:50 am.

        I am in no way berating him. I simple said he says the same think in every interview and will this really happen. If it does we as a country are in big trouble.

        • Submitted by Sam Keats on 05/17/2020 - 08:55 am.

          What I hear you say, Mr. Meister, is that it’s hard to have to hear those predictions. It’s terrifying to think we did okay on social distancing, not great. It’s a nightmare to think of this getting worse and worse, to imagine that number of deaths, Minnesota looking like New York/New Jersey where everyone knows someone who has died and many are enduring a long, painful recovery without knowing if they will, in fact, ever be able to walk up a flight of stairs without huffing again. And that’s just our state. Wisconsin opened up, and folks from Illinois are coming up to blow off steam (steam often filled with the virus). Wouldn’t it be wonderful to know that we’ve found an effective treatment? One that’s darn near foolproof? Wouldn’t it be fabulous to hear that 100 different vaccines already in production? What if there were someone at the top coordinating all this? If we had a Churchill or a Roosevelt or a Moses willing to talk truth and lead us through what promises to be at least two years of nightmare? Someone whose story doesn’t change every press conference or tweet, who isn’t driven entirely by self-interest, and who seems to understand and empathize with fellow humans?

          There is no way through this but through this. I’d love to leap us through to an alternative universe, but this crazy one is all we’ve got. Our family knows we are stuck home for the duration. We have friends back East who understand a world of constant ambulances and thousands and thousands of losses. We’re grateful we have savings to blow through, though that will make our distant future bleak. Because we don’t have leaders who can guide us intelligently, we need experts to trumpet how bad it is, and to trumpet that for as long as necessary until we all are willing—and our leaders are willing and able—to guide us through the Wilderness. This is just hard, Mr. Meister. It will keep being just hard. You have my heartfelt sympathy. It’s not going to be easier for a long, long time.

          • Submitted by Joan Halgren on 05/17/2020 - 01:37 pm.

            Sam Keats, your response is deeply appreciated. You and your family are willing to speak truth to power and do what’s right. Wishing you the best, and thanks for your astute thoughts!

          • Submitted by Fred Meister on 05/17/2020 - 02:49 pm.

            We are doing good up here in St. Louis Co, with 102 cases total. But all I read in these comments is doom n gloom. If thats how you feel then stay home for the next couple of months or even years.

            • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 05/17/2020 - 04:42 pm.

              You know this reminds me of the UK bombing in WWII if you didn’t live in the London area and south, you never had bombs falling on your head. So I guess if you were in Stamford, Wales, Edinburgh, etc. etc. ….. the question was, what’s all the fuss about?

        • Submitted by Matt Haas on 05/17/2020 - 11:34 am.

          You’re starting to get it, it seems. You wonder why folks are aghast at the “open it all up, NOW!”, crowd.

    • Submitted by Mike Hindin on 05/17/2020 - 07:28 am.

      Kindly read. He stated history of other pandemics having 2nd waves. Dr Osterholm has 40 plus years of experience in infectious disease epidemiology. Dr Osterholm is data and reality based and infections and deaths continue. If you want to risk your life in happy nonsense, Donald Trump and fox hosts have stories to tell you. Unfortunately if you are careless yo can spread Covid 19 to many others.

    • Submitted by Lauren Hebert on 05/17/2020 - 09:06 am.

      There IS much we don’t know but Osterholm isn’t just pulling predictions out of his hat… One word: History.

      We DO know a lot about how novel viruses behave, we have some data on how this one behaves and we know the pattern of novel virus pandemics over time.

      In the absence of new data you refer to the data you do have.

      The fact that we don’t know some things doesn’t make what these men are saying invalid. On the contrary, History, Logic and Reason say they’re more likely to be “right” in the broad sense than “wrong.”

    • Submitted by Tom Crain on 05/20/2020 - 09:43 am.

      “How can you be in the 2nd inning for 2 straight months? ”

      Easily, when the ‘game’ is 18 months long. I don’t think sports analogies are the best way to educate the public, but if we want to compare this to a baseball game, think of this pandemic as taking 2 months per inning or 18 months total. It started in Feb and in May we moved to the bottom of the 2nd. We’re the home team, so its our turn to point some points on the board, but the visiting team will be back at the plate again. And again. Stay in your seat! The beer and hot dogs are in short supply and the lines to the bathrooms are long. Plan on this ‘game’ going into extra innings.

      Using the rosiest #s – if it took us 3 months to get to 15% of the population infected, and it requires at least 70% to attain ‘herd immunity’. Therefore, it stands to reason that another 11 months – at the least – will be needed. It is more likely that infection rates decrease and the herd immunity percentage will need to be even higher for this virus.

      Hopefully we’ll have a vaccine before reaching herd immunity. The most optimistic scenarios I’ve seen show a vaccine being available in mass quantities, perhaps, in August 2021.

  3. Submitted by Betsy Larey on 05/15/2020 - 12:30 pm.

    Could you please present some alternative views? They are out there. This is the most doomsday guy there is. And you continue to use him as your main source. I was a monthly contributor for quite a while, I think I have to stop reading about it because all I read is Osterholm.

    • Submitted by Tim McCarthy on 05/15/2020 - 01:30 pm.

      If those “alternative views” are out there, why not share some of them?
      Also, how does one put smiley face on over 100,000, and climbing, dead Americans?

      • Submitted by Matt Haas on 05/17/2020 - 11:36 am.

        Hey she has her beach, and hours a day posting commentary on every Minnesota publication she can find. I guess I’d find a better use for retirement, but to each their own I guess.

    • Submitted by Dianne Arnold on 05/15/2020 - 01:42 pm.

      Betsy Larey, You ask for alternative views. Do you really mean “alternative facts”?
      Osterholm’s work is well documented should you care to read it for yourself. He and others in his profession have devoted their careers to understanding how infectious diseases and pandemics work. What, exactly, do you disagree with and why? What hard science would you suggest we examine to conclude that he is wrong?

    • Submitted by BK Anderson on 05/15/2020 - 01:47 pm.

      Sounds like you want see titles along the lines of: “Shape of the earth: views differ.”

      As the Covid pandemic explodes in FL, I suppose there is a desire to read that things aren’t as bad as they seem….

      • Submitted by Betsy Larey on 05/16/2020 - 09:11 am.

        It is not “exploding” in florida. Exactly the opposite. Miami/Dade/Broward and Palm Beach counties were inundated initially because of all the international cruise ships. That died down. The rest of Florida was mild, stayed flat then down again. Look at the numbers. I live in St Augustine and the “up north” experts say just wait, you’re going to explode. It’s been going on 3 months and nothing.
        And we played golf without a hiccup, when MN wouldn’t even allow course maintenance. I find it interesting that MN is so strict on lock down ( extending now a 3rd time) and your numbers are going up. Don’t laugh, I think it has something to do with being outside in the sun. Which MN can’t do 9 months out of the year. A lot of people agree with this. When I commented I wish you would present alternative points of view, this is exactly what I meant. I am stating factual numbers here.

        • Submitted by ian wade on 05/16/2020 - 03:10 pm.

          Sorry, Betsy, but no one believes anything that DeSantis says.

          https://www.palmbeachpost.com/opinion/20200513/coronavirus-florida-editorial-gov-desantis-still-hiding-crucial-data-on-covid-19-deaths-from-public

          • Submitted by Frank Phelan on 05/18/2020 - 07:36 am.

            Pro tip: If DeSantis’ lips are moving, he’s not telling the truth.

            Same deal for the Draft Dodger in Chief.

        • Submitted by Mike Hindin on 05/17/2020 - 07:40 am.

          Really? I can’t go out in my yard or walk around the block and get sun in Minnesota? Where are the police? Surely the slight tan on my face and arms will get me convicted. I’ll confess I walked around local trails, walked daughter’s dog, went to pharmacy, mowed the lawn, tilled the garden. Not to worry, courts and jails are too full of Covid 19 scofflaws. Probably get the ankle bracelet. (Sarcasm alert)

        • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 05/17/2020 - 11:02 am.

          Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties are the most populated parts of Florida.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/21/2020 - 12:34 pm.

          I’ve gathered from your comments here that you are a seasonal resident of Florida, very likely retired. Good for you.

          You are not one of the people who are most impacted by reopening. You can choose to go to Perkins for the early dinner special, but the server who brings you your food is doing it because their low wages and potential tips from you are the way they stay alive. You can choose to have your hair done, or to let it go. The people who work in the salon, from the stylists down to the person sweeping up, don’t have that luxury.

          Low wage workers are, for the most part, opposed to reopening too soon. Yes, not working hurts their livelihoods, but getting sick with a debilitating disease (even if they don’t die) is a worse option. Look beyond your own inconvenience, and see where the real impact will hit.

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 05/15/2020 - 02:45 pm.

      The alternative view to science is made-up nonsense. Its pretty popular, but Minnpost tends to stick to science.

    • Submitted by kurt nelson on 05/15/2020 - 03:31 pm.

      You know, you don’t have to read anything involving Osterholm right. Just and FYI.

    • Submitted by Fred Meister on 05/16/2020 - 10:52 am.

      Thank You Betsy!!!!!!!!

    • Submitted by Tom Crain on 05/20/2020 - 09:49 am.

      Yeah! Bring back that guy who said this is all just a hoax.

      I come to the Minnpost to feel good, not for realistic opinions from experts.

  4. Submitted by BK Anderson on 05/15/2020 - 01:07 pm.

    One of the more informative articles I’ve seen, very sobering.

    I frankly think that further attempts to right the listing economic ship while the unqualified ignoramus and impeached criminal conman holds the presidency is probably not the best idea. Giving Trump more oceans of funds to misuse and corruptly administer to aid Red and swing states is a huge mistake, especially when it will simply redound to his political advantage to boot. Stop acting as though we have a serious and responsible adult running the executive branch. We don’t; we have an abusive criminal in the office.

    The know-nothing conman could’ve been removed after his senate trial; that was the responsible thing to do. But Mitch’s Repubs refused to take the (conclusively proven) charges seriously, mostly because we are not a serious nation any longer.

    The 2020 election should be a replay of 1932: do you want to keep an economically illiterate plutocrat dummy in the WH during a mounting depression? Think about it, white nationalists….

  5. Submitted by Gene Nelson on 05/15/2020 - 03:49 pm.

    I just read that a CNN poll claims that 93% of registered repubs support trump. Now if that isn’t disturbing in an age where trump places no value on truth as he constantly spews out misinformation

    Children in cages is just one example of how little he cares about anyone but himself…and you repubs foolishly think he cares about you?

    We have a serious sickness in this country when such a creature is supported by so many…and sadly so did the conservatives (fascists) support Hitler.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 05/17/2020 - 11:03 am.

      Fascists are a small subset of conservatives.
      In fact, I’d classify them as reactionaries, since they want to change the situation, not simply maintain it.

      • Submitted by Charles Holtman on 05/17/2020 - 12:11 pm.

        Beg to differ. Fascism (I prefer the term authoritarianism) is the form of governance that appeals to those who, due to their existential fear, wish to go forward into nothingness. For those in power on the Right, it’s simply about greed: grabbing everything and “winning the game” before it all collapses. For the base, the Right is nihilism.

        Those on the Right should never be referred to as conservatives. They are opposed on principle to walking lightly on the earth. They are dismantling the carefully built norms and institutions of civilization as industriously as they can. The left are the conservatives. We recognize how delicate these foundations of human society are, and our aim is to carefully protect them and continue to build on them.

  6. Submitted by Richard Adair on 05/15/2020 - 04:26 pm.

    One principle of science is humility. Respect what you don’t know because you will learn more and your conclusions will change. This is part of what he’s trying to convey by saying we’re in the second inning. Of course we all want to know how bad it will be and when it will end, but we need to live with uncertainty for now. Sorry.

    One possibility is this virus will coexist with humans for many years. Mutations that favor this scenario will outwit (Darwin) our drugs and vaccines. Influenza for example changes its H and N coat proteins (recognized by a vaccine) every year or two, rendering last year’s vaccine less effective. Other viruses (measles) don’t do this so the MMR vaccine may last a lifetime.

    So among the things we don’t know about COVID 19 are: How often does it mutate, how effective will a vaccine be, how long will immunity last after an infection or a vaccination? An expert like Osterholm will take these unknowns into account and be cautious. And if things turn out well he wasn’t “wrong”, just acting like a scientist.

    • Submitted by Betsy Larey on 05/16/2020 - 09:16 am.

      One thing I hope comes out of this is people come to grips with the reality that being obese, with all the underlying health conditions that go along with it, will kill you. Who’s dying in MN? Elderly with 2 or more underlying health conditions. The few who are younger than 65 have major underlying health problems.
      Stay fit and stay active. If this virus doesn’t give you enough of a reason to do that I don’t know what will.
      Open up this economy for small business ( you never cared about that, just pretended to Mr Union Governor) and do it now.

      • Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 05/16/2020 - 03:15 pm.

        “Open up this economy for small business ( you never cared about that, just pretended to Mr Union Governor) and do it now.”

        Can you support this remark with anything other than a right wing conspiracy theory rant? I suspect not! Actually I think Trump and company cared zero for the lives of Americans and the economy, that’s why he did nothing when other countries were on the ball trying to get in front of the pandemic.Plenty of proof if you are willing to read it.

      • Submitted by F Sepler on 05/19/2020 - 02:16 pm.

        I have found that the folks pressing for “opening up” focus on mortality data, but not morbidity data. This is a predatory virus for those unfortunate enough to be symptomatic. Thirty year olds are stroking. Five year olds are getting systemic inflammation. Healthy, fit adults are being taken out for 5-10 weeks, some needing lengthy rehabilitation. The financial, social and human costs of the disease can’t be calculated by the death rate. Thinking that because you won’t die, you should ignore solid, robust, public health advice is foolhardy and magical thinking. Remember too, that if you get sick, you will probably infect tens of people before you even know you have it.

        • Submitted by Steve Roth on 05/20/2020 - 09:53 am.

          Reminds me of a quote I saw somewhere, about folks who ignore the science and facts: “You were told the truth, you made your choice.”

          • Submitted by Fred Meister on 05/20/2020 - 06:28 pm.

            The facts are a leveling off in cases and some areas of Minnesota have had very cases of covid-19. So we should just curl up at home for who knows how long.

            • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/21/2020 - 01:14 pm.

              The facts are that “leveling off” has been due in no small part to the restrictions.

              The facts are that “leveling off” does not mean the virus has gone away.

              The facts are that the “leveling off” could stop and we could see an earlier-than-predicted second wave of infections if restrictions are lifted too quickly.

              The facts are that the COVID is very serious, and macho posturing should not be a factor in public health decisions.

    • Submitted by richard owens on 05/16/2020 - 03:41 pm.

      In recent news, we find that sailors aboard the carrier that were quarantined until they were negative for the virus now have contracted it AGAIN. More than a few started spreading the virus again after they had received multiple negative tests.

      North Dakota is seeing a big spread of the virus in their populous counties, and it seems to be coming from people who have no symptoms and do not feel ill.

      If only those two things were grasped by our administration and our general population right now, we would be together on our S&T.

  7. Submitted by Cotty Lowry on 05/15/2020 - 09:41 pm.

    We get flu shots which are formulated new every year because the flu manages to mutate and does an end run around the latest vaccine. Why do we think one single vaccine in one year will knock this thing out in a single punch. It seems to me that we’re in this C19 virus world permanently.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 05/17/2020 - 11:06 am.

      Different virii have different mutation characteristics.
      That’s why many vaccines are once or twice for life.
      There’s too little known about Covid-19 so far, and the purges of government scientists hasn’t helped.

  8. Submitted by Charles Holtman on 05/16/2020 - 02:07 pm.

    My understanding was that stay-at-home principally is to flatten the curve, so that total cases are not reduced, but the ability to manage those cases is increased by spreading them over time and yielding more time to prepare for them. In theory, while the citizenry is acting to reduce rates of transmission, the government is mobilizing production of PPE and medical facilities; fostering development and production of tests, vaccines and treatments; and doing epidemiologic work to develop a framework that calibrates the social and economic activity that can be sustained without losing a measure of control over virus occurrence and spread.

    While nearly all of us have been working hard to fulfill our responsibilities as citizens by conforming to stay-at-home, though, the federal government, at best, has done nothing to meet its responsibilties and, at worst, has worked hard to undermine the efforts of states and the private sector. I also have waited to learn of epidemiologic work at the state level (requiring random testing of the population, not just those with symptoms) and, unless I missed it, it doesn’t appear this has occurred. Meanwhile, those who don’t understand personal responsibility or consideration for others, prodded by the usual malignant domestic and external forces, press against stay-at-home.

    So, I don’t see our passage thru stay-at-home to “measured reopening” as indicating that we have made progress. I see it as the Governor weighing a continuation of stay-at-home for very little benefit against the political pressure-relieving benefit of reopening (perhaps to get the bonding bill done). And so while we’ve flattened the initial curve, it looks like we’re sharpening the next curve. Out of dedication to the public welfare, and from the profit motive, there are many hard at work on vaccines and treatments, so I expect we’ll just struggle until these bring us something, and then hope that Jordan Kushner doesn’t appropriate it for monopoly profit-taking.

    • Submitted by BK Anderson on 05/17/2020 - 10:16 am.

      This seems a pretty accurate summation and prediction. It does look as though Walz was able to beef up hospital resources for use once the tsunami hits, although the nurses tell us that they are still woefully short of PPE, and one can only imagine its availability in LTC facilities if hospitals are still in short supply.

      An interesting column recently compared the progress of the disease in Australia and Florida, two very similar geographies, coastal, developed, almost identical population size, each with large cities. FL Covid deaths to date (if one can believe DeSantis): 1,900. Australia: under a hundred.

      One is a nation with an actual central government, the other is a “sovereign” state in a federal union, with both the state and nation run by abject “conservative” fools who initially practiced denial and obfuscation. Government can make a difference, it seems!

    • Submitted by Charles Holtman on 05/17/2020 - 11:47 am.

      Jared Kushner, not Jordan Kushner (honorable local personage). Sorry Jordan!

  9. Submitted by kurt nelson on 05/17/2020 - 05:53 pm.

    We’re in NW Montana, Glacier Park is 13 miles from our front door. It’s pretty here, people want to visit. The population of Montana is just about 1 million, the park saw 2 million visitors last summer, that’s a lot of folks from other places.

    Our Governor shut the state down early and fairly hard. So far, the state has had 16 deaths, and only a few hundred cases. That alone is going to bring people here, and since the Gov opened things up last week, you can go to bars, casinos, restaurants, and gyms now. Since that happened last week, the number of out of state and out of county plates has been surprising. Social distancing lasted about a week up here, and masks are a sign of weakness – lots of maga tough guys here.

    All the highways leading into the state have big road signs, telling you that if you’re visiting from another state, you must self-quarantine for 14 days. The National Guard is stationed at most airports in the state, and at train stations too – telling folks the same thing. This is one reason why the state has been so successful in combating the virus, but that’s going to change.

    When the park opens, and our international airport gets back to some normalcy, our rates are going to go up, a lot, and I’m not terribly keen on that aspect, but it’s reality. Planes full of disease coming into our valley, putting us at increased risk because well, they’re entitled and money is more important than life – and I thought the right was all about life.

    During the 1918 pandemic, the first wave hit sporadically around the world and the death toll was pretty low, but when the second wave hit, starting in July of 1918, it killed 65 million people. Then the third wave hit in 1919, and it had mutated enough that any immunity built up by the first two waves was gone, that’s not a very rosy scenario.

    So yeah, we’re going to be in the second inning for a while, unless what the dimwits son said today, that the virus is going to miraculously disappear just after November 3, which is weirdly specific, but he knows.

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