With COVID deaths now topping 910,000, the Biden administration and the rest of the Democratic left are deciding to ease up on their mandate regime. We need to learn to live with COVID, they say – repeating advice President Donald Trump issued back in October 2020.
We’re all for ditching the left’s COVID police state, even if Democrats’ reason is political, as we pointed out in this space yesterday.
But that leaves us with a question: Was any of it worth it? Did any of the guidelines, mandates, orders, shutdowns, cancelations, lockdowns do anything to alter the course of the disease, or change in any way the number of people who died from it?
Was it worth the massive disruption to our jobs and lives, the education losses suffered by our children, the trillions in debt piled up? Was it worth shutting down dissent by Tech Giants? Or the unleashing of mask scolds? Or vaccine passports? Or the divisiveness all of it fueled?
After all, even with all that in place, Centers for Disease Control data show that more than 77 million Americans have contracted COVID, and 910,373 deaths are linked to the disease.
What would have been different if we’d done nothing, other than encourage people to use common sense?
Here’s one clue. Washington University in St. Louis said in November 2020 that if we ditched all the COVID rules immediately, the number of cases would climb to 25 million by February 2021. We didn’t do that, of course. But the actual number of COVID cases by that month was 26 million – higher than WU’s do-nothing scenario.
That shouldn’t come as a surprise, since the evidence keeps piling up that the mask rules, lockdowns, school shutdowns, and social distancing dictates were ineffective.
Mask mandates: The CDC recently tried to buck up the mask police by touting research that claims wearing a cloth mask lowers the odds of testing positive for COVID by 56%. It even tweeted out a poster promoting the results. But there’s an asterisk pointing to fine print at the bottom with the message “not statistically significant.” In other words, the margin of error was greater than 56%, which means that wearing a cloth mask could increase the chances that you get COVID.
The Heritage Foundation’s Doug Badger looked at the actual study and reports that it “found that wearing a mask some of the time might make you 46% more likely to test positive than wearing no mask at all. Wearing it most of the time could increase your risk by 5%.”
It was long accepted by the public health community, in fact, that masks weren’t effective at controlling the spread of respiratory viruses. The World Health Organization explained in 2019 that “there was no evidence that face masks are effective in reducing transmission of laboratory-confirmed influenza.”
Back in August, an epidemiologist and member of Joe Biden’s COVID-19 Advisory Board admitted that many face masks are ineffective at preventing the spread of the virus.
But all you have to do is look at states that imposed strict mask mandates and those that didn’t and you see that there’s no difference in the spread of the disease.
Mask mandates are completely pointless when it comes to children. The Atlantic published an analysis of school masking policies by three medical scholars – including an infectious disease specialist at the National Institutes of Health – who reviewed all the available science on school mask mandates “to try to find evidence that would justify the CDC’s no-end-in-sight mask guidance for the very-low-risk pediatric population, particularly post-vaccination. We came up empty-handed.”
Lockdowns: The case for lockdowns is just as weak, if not weaker, than mandating masks. That was made abundantly clear when Johns Hopkins University examined all the research to date on the efficacy of lockdowns and found that lockdowns made things worse.
“Lockdowns have had little to no public health effects,” the study says, adding that “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.”
School closures: There’s no evidence, either, that shutting down schools and having kids “learn” from home had any impact on the spread of COVID. Research out of the University of Michigan, which studied the impact of school closures in Japan, didn’t “find any evidence that school closures in Japan helped to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in spring 2020.” The closures, did, however, harm the children.
Social distancing: Even the demand that people socially distance likely had no effect whatsoever on the spread of the disease. A study published late last year by researchers at the University of Cambridge found that standing six feet apart from everyone else did not protect against catching COVID. They concluded that it was just another bit of “hygiene theater.”
Of course, there was evidence all along that these interventions weren’t effective.
A paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research in August 2020 concluded that so-called nonpharmaceutical interventions – lockdowns, closures, travel restrictions, stay-home orders, mask mandates, and the like – had no apparent impact on transmission rates.
We’ve been pointing this stuff out for a while, as well.
But these sorts of findings never got the attention they deserved, because reporting such facts would undermine the push for the (worthless) interventions.
What might have had an impact wasn’t the government mandates, but the private sector’s development of vaccines in an unprecedented short amount of time. Of course, even the widespread use of the COVID vaccines did nothing to stop the onslaught of the Omicron variant, although they likely mitigated the health impact. What would have helped, too, would have been more focus on developing new and better treatments, rather than the constant focus on prevention.
What’s needed is a full accounting of the actual benefits of all these government interventions – which appear to be minimal – and the costs – which now are in the stratosphere.
Will anyone in government or the public health community be held accountable? When will Hell freeze over, again?
— Written by the I&I Editorial Board