Studies are surfacing that show us how effective the shutdowns implemented in response to COVID-19 really were in saving lives. Were the results worth the dramatic drop in private-sector employment, the lost businesses, the forgone dreams? Are states with stricter lockdowns more effective in preventing deaths from COVID-19?
Chuck DeVore of the Texas Public Policy Foundation points out that “this economic pain should have been rewarded with a lower COVID fatality rate — that’s what we were told as we obediently stayed home.”
Initial indications are that it wasn’t worth it.
Using COVID fatality data supplied by The New York Times, along with private-employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Mr. DeVore found “no benefit earned by states that inflicted the largest destruction on their job base.”
With not much difference in virus fatality outcomes, private-sector job loss was 11.9 percent in New York, 8.3 percent in California. The decline was just 3.7 percent in Texas and 5.1 percent in Florida.
And what about mask mandates?
A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that 73.6 percent of counties had state-issued mask mandates from March through December 2020. These mandates accounted for less than a 2 percent decrease in COVID-19 cases and COVID-19 deaths, 100 days out from implementation.
Any drop in cases and deaths is wonderful news. But now, with the vaccine rollout, CDC’s updated advice is that adults who have been vaccinated continue wearing masks, social distancing, and avoiding non-essential travel.
It feels like the goalposts are being moved. But CDC calls this a “first step towards normalcy.”
It’s not normal to ratchet down the freedom of Americans when doing so doesn’t help that much. As states begin to remove pandemic-related restrictions, public health officials are warning of a final surge in the virus. A year in, free Americans can deal with it.