Joe Biden got elected promising to do a better job managing the pandemic than his predecessor. With a huge assist from his predecessor for the vaccines developed at “warp speed,” it looked like Mr. Biden just might enjoy America’s miraculous recovery from COVID-19.
Now Mr. Biden has fumbled the ball. If you believe the hype, the virus is back and mutating, putting the nation on the edge of another crisis that could again tip us into the abyss.
If you believe the hype. The reality is far different.
What’s obvious but generally unstated is how much more we know about the virus and its behavior than we did in the late winter of 2020 when most of us became aware of it. We know more about how to treat it too. More importantly, we know what not to do, like not putting people recovering from COVID-19 into nursing homes to finish their recuperation. Of course, some say, and there’s evidence it back it up, that even in the worst days, policymakers knew that was a bad idea but chose, as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo did, to ignore the warnings.
Now the focus is on the so-called delta variant responsible for the latest spike in COVID-related hospitalizations. Those numbers are likely to peak soon in the states with the highest number of infections. The strain will spread as the original virus did, with one major difference: significantly fewer people will die from it, something we explained in detail on this page very recently.
The government should trumpet that fact to calm everyone’s nerves. Instead, senior trusted sources like Dr. Anthony Fauci and National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins are warning the failure to get the delta variant under control could lead once again, regrettably, to government-enforced closures of businesses, schools, and churches even though, as Collins told ABC’s Good Morning America, “We want to avoid lockdowns at all costs.”
That’s the wrong message – and we should all be up in arms that the Biden Administration is allowing anyone to suggest lockdowns might come back. The research isn’t all in. Some of it hasn’t even started, but it seems clear from what we do know that the lockdowns imposed by governors like Cuomo and California’s Gavin Newsom, and Michigan’s Gretchen Whitmer were more destructive in more ways than the virus.
A University of Southern California study released last November projected a net loss to U.S. GDP of at least $3.2 trillion and as much as $4.8 trillion “over the course of two years.” That number could go higher, just like the inflation rate will because of the trillions in so-called emergency relief handed out to the American people and businesses to partially compensate for the lost jobs, wages, and customers the closure of the American marketplace caused. And that only scratches the surface.
The impact of the lockdowns on the nation’s health, the number of overdoses, the suicide rate, and other non-economic measures have yet to be determined. A June 2021 paper, “The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic and Policy Responses on Excess Mortality,” released by the National Bureau of Economic Research, indicates lockdowns didn’t save any lives. Yet, policymakers still consider them an option at some future date.
This is unacceptable. The lockdown option needs to be off the table for good. It was an experiment that failed. Lockdowns did a good job of keeping the population controlled but didn’t do much to stop the virus from spreading. A comparison of its effects among the states shows those that imposed limited lockdowns or no lockdown at all did as well or better than states that shut things up as tight as possible. The evidence is at least that clear.