Dr. Roger Stark, senior fellow at the Washington Policy Center for Health Care, shares his analysis of government control and regulation during the pandemic
This opinion piece was produced and first published by the Washington Policy Center. It is published here with the permission of and full attribution to the Washington Policy Center.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating for loss of life and for the economic damage of forced business and school closures. We now have had over a year of experience with government control and regulation of the critical aspects of our society based on protecting us from the virus. Some states and communities shut down completely. Some states remained open, with schools and businesses functioning as usual. We have enough data to now make some constructive observations.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has done an excellent job of tracking case numbers and deaths related to the COVID-19 virus. The agency has done this using state by state data. (here) The real question is whether a forced lock down of a state’s economy resulted in a substantial decrease in virus-related deaths. Conversely, if a state didn’t lock down, was their death rate higher? The CDC’s data would suggest that the correlation is not consistent and that lockdowns were, at best, not predictive of a decrease in mortality.
New Jersey had one of the most draconian economic lockdowns and yet had the highest state mortality rate of 281 people per one hundred thousand residents. The same holds true of New York City, with 380 deaths per one hundred thousand citizens.
Florida, with 159 deaths, and Texas with 166 deaths per one thousand residents were fairly open about their economic policies. Officials in Utah left closures up to local communities and had a death rate of 67 people per one hundred thousand, whereas officials in Washington state shut everything down and had a death rate of 70 per one hundred thousand.
The data clearly shows that the lockdowns have had no correlation with the number of deaths related to the virus. What is known is that the lockdowns forced thousands of small and medium sized businesses to close and forced millions of school children to forgo their ideal learning experience. There are now multiple identified risk factors for COVID-19 deaths. (here) These include older age, obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and close living quarters, but not economic shutdown.
Each state and each community is unique, yet Americans must demand that government officials use real data and information to make their decisions that affect the lives of their constituents.
Dr. Roger Stark is a senior fellow at the Washington Policy Center for Health Care.