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Coronavirus: Walz talks State Fair, confidence in outbreak model

The State Fair is set to begin in 153 days (as of Thursday).

The Minnesota State Fair is set to begin in 153 days. According to model data revealed this week by Gov. Tim Walz, that could be right around the peak of the Sars-CoV-2 outbreak in Minnesota. 

Will the State Fair be the next big Minnesota event postponed or canceled by the COVID-19 outbreak?

"It's probably too early," said Walz when asked if he was thinking about it. "Our hope would be that we're seeing the turn, but we're going to have to make those decisions based on the situation. We can't allow dates to drive us, we're going to have to allow outcomes of this and work that we've done will change that.

"At this point in time we have not given that any thought. It would be my hope that by the time we get to that point we've got a handle on this thing."

Little explanation has been provided about projections Walz released Wednesday, but the charts suggest there could be 60,000 Minnesotans in need of hospital care all at once around the 150-day mark of the outbreak. For context, today (Thursday) is Day 5 in the model. 

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Only three reporters were able to get questions to the governor during Thursday's conference call, but Minnesota Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm said variables will determine when and how explosive the outbreak is. 

Those variables include how many ICU beds and ventilators can be added to hospitals, contact rates between people, and how transmissible the virus is in America. 

"We know that directionally, the model holds up very strongly. The major variables that change – that will change the outcomes – are the amount of critical care capacity in the state (ICU beds, ventilators, staffing)," said Malcolm. 

"We know that for someone who needs that level of care, if they're able to get that level of care their survival rate is 10 times better than if they need the care and can't get it. There's virtually no chance of surviving if the care isn't available for those critically ill patients." 

Walz reiterated that he wouldn't have shared the models with Minnesotas if he didn't have confidence in them. 

"The confidence level from me to go on what we had was good enough," the governor said. "We did have a discussion on how much do you share when assumptions are being made? 

"We certainly want to give people the proper amount of understanding of what we're up against without creating a false sense of security or a false sense of fear. That is one of the things that I think we need to refine," he continued. "I do feel a sense of confidence that this is showing a pattern and a potential way to reduce the deaths."

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