New York: Wednesday, April 17, 2024
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Politics: Four Years On, Covid Damage Remains While Fauci &

POLITICS: Four years on, COVID damage remains while Fauci & Co. pay no price

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We just passed the fourth anniversary of “15 Days To Slow the Spread,” the start of the COVID lockdowns that did damage from which we still haven’t recovered. 

I’m embarrassed to admit I fell for it.

I was a COVID hawk in the early days. It seemed right at the time. 

The Chinese called it a “grave” threat, and they almost always downplayed bad things in China.

There were reports of death rates ranging from 4% to 10%.

Sure, Anthony Fauci, Nancy Pelosi and Bill de Blasio were telling us not to worry, to take cruises and go visit Chinatown, but I lacked confidence in them. (Hey, I was right about that.) 

They reversed course like a week later.

It turned out, of course, COVID’s mortality rate was significantly less than one-tenth of those early reports, and those deaths were mostly concentrated among the obese, the elderly and those with heart failure and diabetes. 

(And the deaths often resulted from too-aggressive use of ventilators, which are themselves quite dangerous.) 

Neither the lockdowns nor the masking requirements did any good, though they caused a lot of trauma, inconvenience and colossal economic destruction. 

(Even “long COVID,” which we heard a lot about, turns out to be no different from the flu’s long-term consequences, scientists just confirmed.)

Then there were the deaths caused by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s program of moving still-contagious COVID patients into old-folks’ homes, exposing the most vulnerable people to infection.

In short, the government response to COVID was probably more destructive than the virus itself.

In retrospect, I should have been more skeptical. 

It’s hard to believe I, of all people, trusted the government too much, but there you are.

Public-health officials admitted later they didn’t consider the collateral damage from lockdowns, quarantines and the like in making their plans: They focused solely on preventing COVID’s spread. 

Not only were they ineffective at that — COVID spread widely and just about as fast as everywhere else — it’s the opposite of what public-health officials should focus on, since their job is, you know, public health, not the prevention of a single disease at all costs.

The economy still hasn’t recovered from the distortions COVID measures introduced; binge drinking and alcohol-related liver disease are up; children’s educations and development have been retarded — and the nation has suffered a deep and widespread loss of trust in institutions, which, to be fair, is entirely justified.

Even The New York Times now sees sense: “The more time students spent in remote instruction, the further they fell behind. And, experts say, extended closures did little to stop the spread of Covid,” a Monday piece declares.

The architects of these disastrous policies, figures like Fauci, Francis Collins, and Deborah Birx, escaped any reckoning.

Politicians like Cuomo, Pelosi and California Gov. Gavin Newsom cheerfully flouted the rules they imposed on the little people, going to dinner parties and otherwise cavorting in defiance of social-distancing and mask mandates.

As left-leaning blogger Nate Silver observed, “It’s kind of crazy (and tells you a lot about who was writing the restrictions) that churches in some jurisdictions were subject to more restrictions than museums!”

The final blow came when public-health “experts,” who had been condemning family Sunday dinners as inconsiderately dangerous, did a 180 and endorsed massive Black Lives Matter protests on the specious ground, “Racism is a public-health problem.” 

So is obesity, but one doubts they would have endorsed a March Against Fatness. 

They made very clear politics came before science, even as they accused their opponents of being “anti-science.”

The Committee to Unleash Prosperity, which includes some of the experts who were skeptical of lockdowns, has released a “Lessons Learned” report with 10 main points, including: 

“Leaders should calm public fears, not stoke them.”

“Lockdowns do not work to substantially reduce deaths or to reduce viral circulation.”

“Lockdowns and social isolation had negative consequences that far outweighed benefits.”

“Government should not suppress dissent or police the boundaries of science.”

As the Supreme Court weighs the constitutionality of government-induced speech suppression, that last is a particularly timely point.

These experts are worth paying particular attention to because they didn’t fall for the hysteria.

In the beginning I did fall for it, and I’ve made my mea culpa elsewhere

But since I followed the data instead of the governmental diktats, I changed my mind pretty quickly. 

Because I became skeptical, Google demonetized my blog — which is a bigger punishment than any lockdown advocate or enforcer has faced, despite being wrong, arrogant and guilty of causing great harm.

Well, if there can’t be any punishment — and in today’s America, the very idea of consequences for the nomenklatura runs the risk of being called “white supremacist” or “insurrectionist” — there can at least be remembrance.

The “expert” class blew it, sold out or gloried in putting people under its thumb.

And it paid no price.

Next time — and there will be a next time — ignore those people.

And if they won’t let you ignore them, make them.

Glenn Harlan Reynolds is a professor of law at the University of Tennessee and founder of the blog.

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