Do Lockdowns Help?
Enough data is in to assess if lockdowns are effective in preventing the spread and deaths from the Covid virus. Using the states as laboratories, the answer becomes clear:
• The states with the tightest lockdowns had the fewest virus cases, but…
• It made no difference in the death rate whether or not the state locked down
Six states —South Dakota, Arkansas, Iowa, North Dakota, Nebraska, and Wyoming — had no lockdowns at all. They suffered 11,500 Covid cases per hundred thousand people.
By contrast, the states with the tightest Covid lockdown programs, including mask and social distancing requirements were: New Hampshire, California, Connecticut, and New Jersey. Among these states, the virus infection rate was 7,900 Covid cases per hundred thousand people. — 45% lower.
So masks, social distancing, and lockdowns are, indeed, very effective in limiting the spread of the virus.
But not in preventing deaths. In the six states with the least restrictions, there were 163 deaths per hundred thousand people, while in the most restrictive states, there were 174 — 7 percent more.
A comparison of New York State — where lockdowns. began early, have continued, and are still in force — with Florida shows that New York has had 252 virus deaths per 100,000 population while Forida has had only 148. But, as with the national trend, New York and Florida have pretty much the same rate of COVID infection — 8,550 per hundred thousand in New York vs 8,959 in Florida.
So, lockdowns, mask mandates, and social distancing requirements are effective in limiting virus cases, but not in reducing deaths.
Of course, these data do not take into account the ancillary ills that lockdowns may cause. Episodic information points to spikes in suicide rates during the pandemic (in Idaho, for example). Nor does it account for increases in unemployment and poverty.
But the death rate data clearly casts doubt on the efficacy of lockdowns, enough that it is worth considering the economic and social impact of these policies to see how much harm they, in fact, do.
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