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It’s Time To Ask: Did Any Of The COVID Mandates, Closures, Lockdowns Do Anything?

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.

Let’s review:

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

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I & I Editorial Board

The Issues and Insights Editorial Board has decades of experience in journalism, commentary and public policy.


  • While the article has many great points there is one thing I question. Isn’t it time to stop using these inflated Covid death numbers. We have long since learned that they have been inflated as in from Covid vs with Covid.
    I would hope that this site would lead the fight for that accuarcy.

    • On average, hospitals got and get approx $30K per patient more for working the word “covid” into any and all patient charts, soooooo fall into the Grand Canyoon?…it was covid. My personal guess on actual U.S. deaths is closer to between 2 and 3 hundred thousand actuals.

  • Yes! The Shutdowns and Mandates did plenty! Our Constitution was suspended, thousands of Americans died because the “vaccine” an unproven experimental drug was forced on them and lies about its Dangers and threats of losing one’s livelihood. Our children have lost at least two years of their education. They have been forced to wear masks…I could go on…but I’m getting nauseous making a list!

  • “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.”

    That is not certain either, and in fact given the recent Congressional testimony concerning data from DoD medical diagnosis records it now seems likely the vaccines are causing far more health issues than they solve. Net deaths may (or may not) still tilt in favor of the vaccines, but at what price?

    It seems likely that if health officials had simply strongly advised everyone to take daily supplements of vitamins C, D, and zinc they may well have had a better outcome than the jab.

  • We seemed to have gone through the six stages of a project, and are nearing the end stage.
    1. Enthusiasm,
    2. Disillusionment,
    3. Panic and hysteria,
    4. Search for the guilty,
    5. Punishment of the innocent, and
    6. Praise and honor for the nonparticipants.

  • Good article.

    There was never any rational basis for the Covid measures you mention above: masking, social distancing, voluntary/mandatory “shutdowns,” or “stay at home orders,” school closures, etc.

    Anyone with even a vague scientific/rational understanding of what viruses are, how viruses work, and how viruses spread or move through a susceptible population of humans – or any other form of life – should have known this by the time they got through 6th-grade Intro Science.

    But we have allowed the general public to become so utterly scientifically illiterate that most of them did NOT have even that 6th-grade understanding of reality, and the leftist animals in our midst took advantage of that to gin up a panic, and stampede the herd toward its wet-dream of ushering in a cradle-to-grave authoritarian society in which leftist elites have absolute power and control over the life and death decisions of the peasantry.

    There is no punishment large enough for these leftist liars who sparked the Covid19 Panic of 2020, unfortunately.

  • My answer to the title question is a resounding yes. It taught tyrants that sheep can and will be herded right to their slaughter and many sheep will goad and prod other sheep to follow along. While singing songs to Jesus they march to their death that’s what government has learned.

    • Well, it wasn’t Jesus singing Americans that became sheep-like. It was those that believe in their core that an ever expanding ‘government’ will solve the worlds problems

  • I said at the very beginning and have seen nothing to change my mind. This has all been a gross over-reaction to an underwhelming problem. Nothing that has been done or tried the last two years has made a bit of difference. Forget about COVID and get on with living your life instead of hiding from COVID until your life is over.

  • Democrats and crybaby liberals who seem to have a change of heart and now want to change the masking requirement is fake. Beware, it is all political theater to get votes before the mid-term elections. Nasty Pelosi cares nothing about children, she only said that because she is running again and wants to get votes. Doing away with the mask mandates is good, but they are not doing it for the good of children or this country. It is only to garner votes and if they win things will only get worse. Please do not be fooled. Vote them all out. We must get rid of these DemocRAT traitors to America.

  • Yes, they destroyed a thriving economy, and ruined the re-election chances of a President.

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