Ryan Cunningham

Ryan Cunningham on KNOX Radio

Ryan Cunningham has spent a career as much outside of a studio as in it. Starting as a nighttime announcer and sports broadcaster at KOVC in his hometown of Valley City, ND, he moved to stations throughout the midwest with the same company, before becoming the voice of Delta State University sports in Cleveland, MS in 2000. He returned to Valley City, and spent 12 years there before coming to KNOX in 2012.

Ryan can be heard on KNOX from 12 PM to 3 PM weekdays, and also during local sports broadcasts. He is a two-time North Dakota Broadcasters Association "Teddy" award winner for best play-by-play coverage.

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April 16, 2020

Social distancing is NOT working, and government officials that tell you otherwise are lying, with no data to support their claims.

The data proves otherwise.

No, this will not be another one of those complaint pieces about scores of people not listening to the governor in whichever state you live.

Instead, this is about what the governors did not do, because they could not do it, and the data bearing that out.

Estimates on how the shutdowns have affected the economy vary, but there are two data points to concentrate on. The first is the government's estimate that roughly 25% of the U.S. economy has been shut down, accommodating for "essential" businesses to continue working.

The second point is comprised of the labor force numbers. Thus far, about 21 million people have filed for jobless benefits, in week-over-week numbers reported by most of the news media.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the labor force in the United States is about 164.6 million people. The bureau also estimates a roughly 63% labor force participation rate, around 104 million people, working as of March, 2020.

That means 83 million people, over 80% of the workforce, is still out on the job. The shutdown has affected 21 million, of the 330 million, people living in the United States.

In essence, the shutdown has affected less than 10% of Americans from a labor standpoint.

Granted, we've stayed six feet apart, some are wearing masks and gloves. Stores have adjusted their hours, some imposing new rules on how many may be in the building at one time. We've canceled concerts and games. Clearly, we've done some things.

However, it would appear that, even if every American that lost a job due to the shutdown stayed in their homes, we'd affect less than 10% of the population.

That's not social distancing by any wide scale.

Now, go back to the front lines, the people that know because they are still working. Grocers, big box stores, hardware stores, convenience stores, all seem to be reporting either no slowdown, or, in the case of grocers, an increase of traffic.

It seems that everyone is still going out. All the executive orders have done is sent them to a handful of places.

Ask yourself this: with the labor numbers as they are, what you see in the store you still go to, knowing the schools are closed and there are no events that draw 20,000 people going on, do you think its more likely we've cut the infection rate down by 80-90%, or by 10-20%?

Even if it's in the middle, even if closing schools and games and concerts have cut the infection rate 50%, for North Dakota, that meas instead of 400 total positives, 250 active cases, and nine deathes, we'd have 800 total positives, 500 active cases, and 18 deaths.

Those numbers could be used to cancel concerts, but not your table at the restaurant, or your stool at the bar.

In the end, no governor, no mayor, can say, with sincerity, that social distancing is working. We haven't kept any large segment of the population home, and, if this Coronavirus was as contagious and lethal as they tell us, a lot more people would be infected, and a lot more people would be dead.

April 14th, 2020

Grand Forks--I'm writing a new blog, entitled "From the Punch Bowl." The reason for the title: I heard a phrase once that was used to describe the one thing that dirtied up the rest of the container. You've perhaps heard "Fly in the Ointment", or "Bad Apple."

The one I like the best is "Turd in the Punch Bowl," and that's what this blog is meant to be.


Today is a watershed moment for the state of North Dakota in the handling of Coronavirus.

New projections from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), the gold standard of epidemiology in the world, were released for the United States and each individual state.

With the current level of social distancing in North Dakota, the IHME now predicts 32 total deaths from Coronavirus through August 4th.

Yes. Thirty-two total. Check the numbers for yourself. https://covid19.healthdata.org/united-states-of-america/north-dakota

Here's the turd in the punch bowl: That number is too low.

The number is too low to continue to close bars and restaurants. We do not have to reopen them fully, but 32 deaths cannot mean their complete closure.

If we reopen them, more than 32 people will die by August 4th. How many would that be? Double 32 is 64. Triple 32 is 96. Quadruple 32 is 128. Quintuple (that's five times more) is 160.

Would we shut down an entire industry for 160 deaths?

Grand Forks mayor Michael Brown shut down an Easter car, yes car, as in driving, parade this past weekend. Would we shut down an Easter parade, or even Easter services, statewide for 160 deaths, five times the current number predicted?

The answer to both questions is a hard "no". The new numbers state we will only need five ventilators statewide at the peak usage due to Coronavirus.

If we did not tell you that Coronavirus existed, you'd think the loss of 160 people in this state would be a bad flu season. It would barely make headlines. We would all go about our days.

Governor Doug Burgum will issue his guidance for North Dakota Wednesday. That guidance needs to include a plan to reopen, and very, very soon. We did what we had to do, based on the unknown factors with this virus. We know enough now.