‘I think it’s time to consider … that this lockdown—as opposed to the more moderate mitigation efforts—is a colossal public policy calamity…’
(Ben Sellers, Liberty Headlines) Amid growing unrest from the Right over the country’s highly restrictive stay-at-home orders, some conservative leaders said it was now time to reassess the fearmongering claims that resulted in a vast overreaction to the coronavirus.
“It is time to begin examining what we have done and whether, with the benefit of hindsight, we were right to do it,” wrote Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga., in an opinion piece published by Townhall. “As I reflect, I come to an inescapable conclusion: Someone must be held accountable.”
Although Hice—whose home state of Georgia is set to begin reopening this week—mourned the severe losses in areas like New York that have been decimated by the outbreak, he said the unprecedented national lock-down was entirely disproportionate to the overall threat.
“Based on the word of our experts, we shut down the United States on a previously unimaginable scale,” he wrote. “Public health experts, scientists, and government officials all warned that millions would die unless strict measures were put in place.”
A Devastating Impact
Some, in the outbreak’s early days, urged a more measured response—pointing to the possibility of misleading arithmetic or sensationalist reporting—but their voices were drowned out, if not dismissively attacked for showing a lack of empathy.
“We were cautioned that, even with our extraordinary efforts, hundreds of thousands of Americans would likely die,” Hice wrote. “So, we willingly took unprecedented steps to save the most vulnerable among us, even at the cost of wreaking unparalleled economic damage.”
In the ensuing panic, at least 20 million have been left jobless and trillions added to the ballooning U.S. debt.
“I think it’s time to consider the possibility, Shannon, that this lockdown—as opposed to the more moderate mitigation efforts—is a colossal public policy calamity,” Hume said.
“That the damage to the economy—businesses that I see, businesses are closing,” he continued. “Many may not reopen. Those jobs will be lost. Those businesses will be lost. Those incomes will be lost.”
The untold fallout—including the long-term closures of schools, rising eviction rates, depleted savings and retirement accounts, and even the release of thousands of incarcerated criminals—will continue to bring pain and uncertainty even after the recovery process starts.
Hume noted that the harm to children, in particular, will likely result in enduring psychological damage.
“They don’t have school. They can’t play with their friends, even outdoors. All these things are accumulating,” he said.
“They’re not going to get better, Shannon. They’re going to get worse with time,” Hume continued. “And, as I say, we may not recover from many of these losses for a very long time if ever.”
Reassessing the Numbers
As of April 22, an estimated 45,000 Americans had perished, with the data likely factoring in “probable” coronavirus deaths according to guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Recent projections from the White House said the final toll from the outbreak was currently estimated at 50,000 to 60,000, as President Donald Trump noted in his daily briefing Monday.
That would put the coronavirus outbreak in the same range as the annual death rate for flu and pneumonia, according to CDC data—although the timeline is far more compressed with the new virus due to its rapid spread.
It would likely rank 7th or 8th on the list of top U.S. killers based on 2017 data (the most recent available), with heart disease and cancer topping the chart. Americans are 10 times more likely to die from either of those than coronavirus.
They also are roughly three times more likely to die as the result of unintentional injuries sustained from accidents—the third leading cause of death in the U.S.
However, the COVID-19 numbers are not far off from the 10th deadliest cause—intentional harm or suicide, which claimed more than 47,000 lives in 2017.
The current estimate, if correct, reflects a drastic downward revision since the start of April, when Coronavirus Task Force experts Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx placed the projection at 100,000 to 240,000 deaths even with mitigation efforts in place.
And that, itself, was a significant downward revision from one of the most notorious but highly reported early figures: a March 16 study from the Imperial College London, co-authored by the World Health Organization, that claimed the U.S. toll would reach 2.2. million, peaking in mid-June.
“The global impact of COVID-19 has been profound, and the public health threat it represents is the most serious seen in a respiratory virus since the 1918 H1N1 influenza pandemic,” said the researchers at the time.
That was one of many dire comparisons with the so-called Spanish flu of 1918, which infected a third of the world population—around 500 million people—and killed approximately 10 percent of those who caught it, or more than 3 percent of the global population (including 675,000 Americans).
By contrast, the novel coronavirus has thus far infected slightly more than 2.5 million people and killed an estimated 180,000.
Even with the massive loss of life, accounts of the 1918 pandemic note that the mitigation measures were nothing like the current ones.
Most restaurants, for example, were deemed “essential” and remained open, despite taking certain precautionary measures. Theaters also remained open in many places.
In far-left San Francisco—one of the first U.S. locations recently to issue austere shelter-in-place orders over the coronavirus—the courts in 1918 not only continued to conduct business but did so in the open air.
According to History.com, after peaking in the U.S. in October 1918 with just shy of 200,000 deaths that month, “the Spanish flu dissipated as quickly as it had arrived,” with a brief resurgence during the November celebrations marking the end of World War I.
WHO Is Responsible?
Finger-pointing has abounded during the health crisis.
Much of the Left’s energy—and that of its media allies—has focused on President Donald Trump’s response, which they claim was too little, too late.
Trump has continued to push back and counter the misleading media narrative, offering fact-based timelines while using his critics’ own words against them.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 20, 2020
Trump also has been sharp in his criticism of China, which covered up the early threat and continues to suppress information about the virus’s origin while denying all responsibility.
Likewise, the United Nations-backed WHO was complicit in the Chinese propaganda campaign, first downplaying the risk and then over-hyping it. Trump has since cut off funding until the globalist authority is held accountable.
Hice said more of those who were guilty of hiding behind flawed models to spread misinformation at a critical moment should face the music.
He singled out Neil Ferguson, the lead researcher in the Imperial College London study, who “has dramatically changed his tone, saying he is now ‘reasonably confident’ that the medical systems can manage the flood of coronavirus patients.”
Yet, Ferguson conveniently credited the draconian mitigation measures he promoted as having substantially reduced the outlandish toll.
As Hice noted, we are now stuck with the equally brutal consequences of his proposed policies.
Likewise, the congressman called out the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, on which the White House relied for its slightly-less-egregious early-April projections. Those also have been continually revised downward.
Astoundingly, Hice noted, many in the liberal mainstream media continue to sing the praises of IHME researchers, sometimes going out of their way to assert the institute’s credibility and downplay the model’s unreliable track record.
Instead, “[w]e need to examine how it is possible for such an instrument to be so inaccurate,” Hice said. “We should expect models to be updated to reflect new information and trends, but these extreme revisions have yet to be explained.”