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April 11, 2022

The Final Pivot on COVID-19

Fauci makes a radical discovery — individual health choices are up to individuals.

Now he tells us. More than two years into the accursed coronavirus pandemic, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s highest-paid bureaucrat and the face of overbearing government reaction, came out of hiding to say our health is now up to us.

“[COVID] is not going to be eradicated, and it’s not going to be eliminated,” Fauci said over the weekend. “And what’s going to happen is that we’re going to see that each individual is going to have to make their calculation of the amount of risk that they want to take.” He added, “We’re at that point where in many respects … we’re going to have to live with some degree of virus in the community.”

Let’s be crystal clear: This is where the entire nation should have been two years ago.

We don’t have to wonder how that would have turned out, either, because numerous states created what was essentially A/B testing for that hypothesis.

A new study released by the National Bureau of Economic Research and the Committee to Unleash Prosperity compared results on education, the economy, and virus mortality among the states, evaluating how various state governments handled COVID response. It is what the authors call “an expanded and updated version of an October 2020 report card.”

Predictably, Republican-led states did better than their Democrat-run counterparts.

The authors of the report — economists Phil Kerpen, Stephen Moore, and Casey B. Mulligan — were quite candid: “The study verifies other studies which have found that locking down businesses, stores, churches, schools, and restaurants had almost no impact on health outcomes across states. States with strict lockdowns had virtually no better performance in COVID death rates than states that remained mostly open for business.” And again: “The correlation between health and economy scores is essentially zero, which suggests that states that withdrew the most from economic activity did not significantly improve health by doing so.”

Fox News elaborates: “States like Utah, Nebraska, Vermont, Montana, South Dakota and Florida — all governed by Republicans — received the highest scores in the study, first through sixth, respectively. In fact, 13 of the top 15 states in the study are governed by Republicans. (Montana had a Democratic governor until the 2020 election.)”

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The authors took pains to account for factors that would have caused disproportionate results, such as the prevalence of certain industries that were harder hit, or older, less healthy populations (particularly key comorbidities like obesity and diabetes). They were well aware that there are more disparities across the states than just COVID response.

As Moore put it: “Shutting down their economies and schools was by far the biggest mistake governors and state officials made during COVID, particularly in blue states. We hope the results of this study will persuade governors not to close schools and businesses the next time we have a new virus variant.”

Democrats like former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo literally wrote the book on incredible COVID response, even though he in particular was responsible for thousands of nursing home deaths. His state ranked 49th overall in this report, and it wasn’t even due to tradeoffs — it was 48th on economy and 47th on mortality. Number 47 California was similar, ranking 40th for economy and 50th for school days missed, while making it only to the middle of the pack (27th) on mortality.

Much-maligned Florida, meanwhile, was 28th in mortality (due to its older population), but third on education and 13th for economic performance, where it would have been far higher were it not for dependence on tourism.

It is this all-over-the-map disparity in performance that led the report’s authors to conclude that there was so little correlation between response and mortality. That in itself argues for as light a response as possible.

The Wall Street Journal editorial board also noticed something we pointed out in March 2020: Federalism is a great feature of our constitutional government. “Another lesson we’d draw that the authors don’t in their paper,” the Journal writes, is that we can “thank the U.S. Constitution for our federalist system of government. States were largely able to implement their own policies. The outcomes would have been much worse had Washington imposed a single national policy as dictated by the federal bureaucracy.”

Democrats have based much of their identity over the last two years on being the moral ones who truly care about your health, in contrast with immoral Republicans who only want money and don’t care if you die. The truth wasn’t nearly so favorable to Democrats. They didn’t save lives, but they did kill the economy.

Which brings us back to Fauci. We predicted a big Democrat pivot way back in January because the midterm elections are looming and Democrats are losing support. They need to move on from COVID and declare victory and hope you don’t notice all the damage they did along the way. They also hope you don’t see that Fauci’s weekend declaration is where we should have been in March 2020 and remained ever since.

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