March 14, 2022

Looking Back at Two Years of COVID-19

Two years after locking the nation down, we’re left to wonder whether it was worth it.

Two years ago this week, your life changed radically — and not for the better.

After having heard about the “novel coronavirus” for a couple of months, we as a nation went into full-blown panic mode on Monday, March 16, 2020, when then-President Donald Trump announced “15 Days to Slow the Spread.” At the time, Americans across the political spectrum were generally accepting of the announcement, even though it mandated locking down office buildings and schools and forcing all but those determined by the Department of Homeland Security to belong to a “critical infrastructure industry” to work from home. Americans were also directed to avoid social gatherings of 10 or more people and, in a devastating blow to the service industry, to avoid eating or drinking at bars, restaurants, and food courts, and to instead use drive-through, pickup, or delivery. In addition, we were told to avoid discretionary travel, to avoid shopping trips and social visits, and to avoid nursing homes and long-term care facilities except to provide critical care.

In short, we social animals were forced to live much more solitary lives. And this was, aside from the direct death toll, the most underreported calamity of the COVID crisis, because it didn’t take long for us to figure out that the lockdowns led to spikes in domestic abuse, drug abuse, depression, and suicide.

In addition, as Hoover senior fellow and one-time chief of neuroradiology at Stanford Medical Center Scott Atlas noted, our nation’s coronavirus policy — its hysteria, its restrictions, and its lockdowns — caused many people, out of fear or lack of access, to put their chronic health conditions on the back burner. As a result, these people became sicker than ever. “[The policy] failed by the data to stop the spread of the infection. It failed to protect the elderly and stop them from dying. And it destroyed millions and millions of families, including the children who were sacrificed, and I’m talking about particularly low-income families.”

Here we remember Ronald Reagan’s nine most terrifying words in the English language: “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

Today, we’re largely sick of the lockdowns and the mandates and the masking, and we can look back and wonder: Was it all necessary? As is usually the case, some of the measures aged better than others. For example, the directive to avoid the elderly in order to protect them was, it seems, an inarguably correct call. On the other hand, closing our schools — and keeping them closed until the teachers unions’ cowardice and selfishness finally became untenable — was without a doubt the wrong call. The tens of millions of children we kept out of school all those months were at greater risk of dying in a car accident than from catching COVID-19, which we learned in short order was disproportionately targeting the elderly and the otherwise immunocompromised.

Still, even though each of the aforementioned measures has long since been undone, those on the Left remain a bit queasy about our collective attempt to regain some normalcy in our lives. As The New York Times reports:

It was two years ago that the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a pandemic, and after nearly one million deaths across the United States, the virus is far from gone. Rates of new infections, while improving, are still higher now than the beginning of last summer.

But after signs of progress and exhaustion, even cities and states with the strictest coronavirus precautions have been rolling them back. For millions of Americans who kept their masks on and socially distanced long after much of the country abandoned safety measures, it is a moment that has stirred relief, but also disappointment, frustration and queasy ambivalence.

Not even Operation Warp Speed — the Trump administration’s remarkable public-private partnership to facilitate and accelerate the development, manufacturing, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics — could ease the Left’s worried minds. While the vaccines provided important additional protection, especially to those most at risk, they were oppressively oversold by the Biden administration, which issued a series of onerous and unconstitutional mandates to force the vaccine on all Americans except the very young.

In addition, despite Joe Biden’s assurances to the contrary, vaccinated people can catch and transmit the virus. Just ask Barack Obama, who’s now recovering from a case of the COVID sniffles.

As our Nate Jackson wrote recently, the American people want to move on from COVID. As such, we’ve yanked the nanny state forward, mostly kicking and screaming at a wealth of inconvenient facts. “We find no evidence that lockdowns, school closures, border closures, and limiting gatherings have had a noticeable effect on COVID-19 mortality,” researchers wrote in a new analysis for Johns Hopkins University. That doesn’t mean lockdowns had no effect. “They have contributed to reducing economic activity, raising unemployment, reducing schooling, causing political unrest, contributing to domestic violence, and undermining liberal democracy,” the report notes. Given these “enormous economic and social costs,” the researchers conclude, “a standard benefit-cost calculation leads to a strong conclusion: lockdowns should be rejected out of hand as a pandemic policy instrument.”

Of course, COVID-19 also changed our politics for the worse. How? It gave Democrats the excuse they needed to relax our nation’s voting laws and open the floodgates for bulk-mail ballot fraud.

We’ve endured two years to slow the spread. And it seems we’re long past time for moving on.

P.S.: Whatever happened to that once-ubiquitous masked man, Anthony Fauci?

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