The collateral damage of lockdowns are unfortunately now well understood. Their benefits, however, remain unsubstantiated.
Early into the Covid-19 pandemic, the U.S. did the (previously) unthinkable, we shut down the country like a child pressing pause on a video game. Everything just came to a stop. Considering that lockdowns are economically devastating and create both mental and physical health issues, imposing such draconian measures by the state governors seem to obviously have been a drastic mistake. At the beginning, when little was known, state officials acted in ways they deemed sensible. But now evidence proves that lockdowns were a draconian treatment with horrific side effects and little to no benefit to society.
In general, the states with the earliest and strictest lockdowns have had the worst economic impacts. New York and neighboring New Jersey, two of the first states to shut down in the country. New York’s unemployment rate rose to 12.5%, while New Jersey’s went to 11%. When the national average was 8.%. Looking at states like Alabama, where the lockdown was moderate and they quickly reopened, the unemployment rate was 5.4%. The New York government is now facing huge fiscal deficits while Alabama just finished its fiscal year in the black. Statistical analysis shows that locking down the economy didn’t contain the disease’s spread and reopening it didn’t unleash a second wave of infections.
The lockdown defenders argue that those states were better at protecting their people from Covid and that was reason enough to shut down. New York’s efforts to protect their citizens resulted in a case fatality rate of 6.5%, and NJ had an even more abysmal fatality rate of 7.5%. A state like Alabama? 1.6%. When your local economy is drastically under-performing the country wide economy and the citizens are dying at a much faster rate from COVID-19 (despite the strict lockdown,) maybe it’s time to rethink things.
WHO director Tedros Adhanom said on March 11 that “history does not have a precedent for controlling a pandemic”. Yet, lockdowns were recommended and instantly enforce. By end March, over 170 countries had closed their borders, and there were over 8,81,000 COVID-19 cases and more than 43,000 deaths. With lockdowns, cases were expected to reach their terminal level, perhaps, 10 times higher at 8.8 million? Today, cases are 40 times, and deaths 24 times higher. This has happened during the most intense period of lockdowns imaginable and government controls around the world. These are not stats about even partial success; rather, statistics of massive failure.
In a May Bloomberg article titled “The Results of Europe’s Lockdown Experiment Are In,” a data journalist by the name of Elaine He shared several models based on work done by the University of Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government, that tracked a range of government stringency measures across Europe. COVID mortality, He said, “did not appear to be associated with lockdown stringency.” “While not a gauge of whether the decisions taken were the right ones, nor of how strictly they were followed, the analysis gives a clear sense of each government’s strategy for containing the virus,” He writes.
Some — above all Italy and Spain — enforced prolonged and strict lockdowns after infections took off,” He follows up with. “Others — especially Sweden — preferred a much more relaxed approach. Portugal and Greece chose to close down while cases were relatively low. France and the U.K. took longer before deciding to impose the most restrictive measures. Unfortunately there’s little correlation between the severity of a nation’s restrictions and whether it managed to curb excess fatalities — a measure that looks at the overall number of deaths compared with normal trends,” the report concludes. Public health officials believe they can manage a virus through effective central planning, but this is a hubristic mistake akin to Icarus believing he could fly close to the sun.
We don’t need to have a global debate about whether the economic costs of lockdowns outweigh their benefits, because lockdowns do not provide public health benefits at all. Ordering people to cower in their apartments, harassing people for taking a walk in the park, and ordering small businesses to close up shop and effectively put them out of business simply has no demonstrated effectiveness. And this is ignoring the tremendous mental health and inflationary aspect of printing currencies to keep our struggling economies afloat. It is beyond time that we demand our leaders both state and federal open up and let us try and crawl out of the hole they dug for us.