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March 28, 2022

The Lockdowns Killed Us … Literally

The research into the health effects of these past two years paints a damning picture of Big Government overreaction and ineptitude.

Two weeks ago, we reflected on the two-year anniversary of “15 Days to Slow the Spread” — that ignominious moment when our nation lost its collective mind and locked down everything from office buildings to restaurants to stadiums to schools while forcing nearly everyone to work from home.

Since that time, it’s become even more apparent that the results were catastrophic — either because we failed to consider them carefully or because those in power simply didn’t care to. “The unintended social and economic consequences were clear,” the Texas Public Policy Foundation writes. “Rising unemployment, learning loss among students, spiking rates of domestic violence, and a pandemic-level rise in drug abuse and overdoses. All of that social and economic devastation yielded a minimal impact on health-related suffering due to COVID-19.”

So not only did the lockdowns turbocharge an array of other maladies, they didn’t even improve our COVID-related health. This second point was made abundantly clear in January, when Johns Hopkins University published a meta-analysis on the effects of lockdowns on COVID-19 mortality. “Lockdowns in Europe and the United States,” the researchers write, “only reduced COVID-19 mortality by 0.2% on average. … While this meta-analysis concludes that lockdowns have had little to no public health effects, they have imposed enormous economic and social costs where they have been adopted. In consequence, lockdown policies are ill-founded and should be rejected as a pandemic policy instrument.”

As for the collateral damage, where to start? In their unforgivable zeal to keep schools closed, the teachers unions harmed the mental health of untold numbers of young people. According to the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health, “27% of parents report their adolescent child has visited with a mental health specialist, with 59% of those parents reporting that the visit was within the past year.”

As for the adults, they coped by binge drinking. According to The New York Times, “The number of alcohol-related deaths, including from liver disease and accidents, soared, rising to 99,017 in 2020, up from 78,927 the previous year — an increase of 25 percent in the number of deaths in one year.”

And if alcohol-related deaths spiked, is it any wonder that fentanyl overdoses are now the leading cause of death for adults between the ages of 18 and 45?

As might be expected, the traditional killers also saw spikes. “Deaths From Heart Disease and Stroke Rose Sharply During Pandemic,” blares the Wall Street Journal headline. And the grim numbers back it up: “Mortality rates from heart disease and stroke rose 4.3% and 6.4% respectively in 2020, part of a larger wave of excess deaths in the first year of the pandemic, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal JAMA Network Open. Overall, the U.S. mortality rate jumped 15.9% that year, according to the analysis, which was based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

And these were just 2020 numbers. Who knows what the 2021 totals will bring?

The Free State of Florida took plenty of heat for its anti-lockdown leadership — most of it directed at Governor Ron DeSantis and Surgeon General Dr. Joseph Ladapo. If only the nation had listened to Ladapo two years ago. Indeed, here’s what he wrote in a USA Today op-ed back on March 24, 2020, when he was a UCLA Medical School professor and a front-line COVID-19 clinician:

Please don’t believe politicians who say we can control this with a few weeks of shutdown. … Here is my prescription for local and state leaders: Keep shutdowns short, keep the economy going, keep schools in session, keep jobs intact, and focus single-mindedly on building the capacity we need to survive this into our health care system.

Further, as the Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto notes: “Florida’s permissive policies didn’t stop Covid, but neither did other states’ restrictive ones. It’s an open question whether lockdowns, masking, forced vaccination and the rest have conferred any benefit at all. As the federal government and states like California and New York search for a ‘new normal,’ they should consider following Florida’s example of simply being normal.”

Who knew government, in its insatiable urge to control, could screw things up so badly? And who knew that simple normality could be such a brilliant strategy?

Those are rhetorical questions, in case it wasn’t obvious.

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