Friday, December 31, 2021

Ted Rall: Our First Lockdown Experiment Failed, Let's not Try a Second One

 Shutting down businesses and schools felt to many people like a natural response to the COVID-19 pandemic. But the extended coronavirus lockdown of 2020 did not follow any widely accepted standard strategy. Lockdowns were sporadic and short-lived during the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, the most recent historical parallel. Encouraging and coercing tens of millions of people to shelter in place in 2020 was one of the most radical social engineering experiments in modern history, as novel as the coronavirus itself.

    The political impulse to cancel events and close nonessential services we experienced during the spring and summer of 2020 is reemerging as the highly contagious, albeit anecdotally less severe, omicron variant s the reason why raising your voice and weeps through New York City and other hotspots. Broadway theaters and rock and hip-hop performers have canceled performances, the Rockettes closed their season a week early and Mayor Bill de Blasio is considering curtailing attendance at the city's annual ball drop at Times Square. Rumors that New York City is considering another public school system lockdown are sparking panic among parents.

    Harvard has moved back to remote learning. The World Economic Forum in Davos has been canceled. Quebec is under lockdown, joining the Netherlands. The United Kingdom is considering one.

    So, clearly, is the Biden administration. The feds can't order lockdowns -- but they can pressure states and cities to enact them.

    White House Chief Medical Adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci says he doesn't "foresee" another national lockdown in the United States ... yet. Students of political messaging will take note of the careful if-then conditional sentence structure in Fauci's statement on ABC's "This Week": "I don't see that in the future if we do the things that we're talking about," Fauci said. "The thing that continues to be very troublesome to me and my public health colleagues is the fact that we still have 50 million people in the country who are eligible to be vaccinated who are not vaccinated." What are the odds that vaccine resisters will change their minds in the next week or two?

    Americans should consider, as we stare down the barrel of a second wave of "slow the spread"-motivated societal freezes, the pros and cons of the first one last year. Spoiler alert: This is not a movie that deserves a sequel.

    Co-conceived in 2005 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security and the World Health Organization, the Pandemic Influenza Plan was developed to "prevent, control, and respond to ... novel influenza A viruses of animal (e.g. from birds or pigs) with pandemic potential," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was the blueprint for the National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza deployed by the Trump and Biden administrations 15 years later to coordinate "all levels of government on the range of options for infection-control and containment, including those circumstances where social distancing measures, limitations on gatherings, or quarantine authority may be an appropriate public health intervention." Federal officials turned to this Bush-era guidebook when COVID-19 came to America.

    It pains this leftist to admit it, but conservatives who warned of the economic and psychological costs of the 2020 lockdown turned out to have been correct. "Lockdowns do not prevent infection in the future. They just don't. It comes back many times, it comes back," President Donald Trump said in April 2020, shortly before much of the country succumbed to lockdown fever. He looks prescient. 

    With the delta and omicron variants still raging, cost-benefit analysis of the COVID lockdown requires hard data that won't be available for years. But one thing is clear: The lockdown experiment was far short of an unqualified success.

    The economic cost has been staggering. "COVID-19-related job losses wiped out 113 straight months of job growth, with total nonfarm employment falling by 20.5 million jobs in April (2020)," according to a study by the Brookings Institute. About 200,000 businesses, more than average, failed. Harvard economists David Cutler and Lawrence Summers have estimated the total cost of the crisis, much of which is attributable to the lockdown, at $16 trillion if the pandemic were to end this fall, i.e., now.

    2020-21 was the Great Lost Year of American public education. With Black students five months behind where they would have been otherwise, and white students two months back, virtual instruction was virtually educational.

    But what about the benefit? Some studies claimed that lockdowns prevented nearly 5 million cases in the United States; at a mortality rate of 1.6%, that works out to 80,000 fewer coronavirus fatalities thanks to the lockdown. But analyses of "excess deaths" indicate that at least 300,000 more Americans than usual died last year due to causes other than the virus itself. Increased alcohol consumption, reduced physical activity and depression culminating in suicide (not last year, when fewer people killed themselves, but in future years) will claim lives years into the future. If the lives-saved column of the ledger comes out a net positive, it probably won't be by much.

    As for ordinary Americans, we are voting with our feet: 72% of respondents to a Dec. 14 Ipsos poll said they plan to see family or friends outside of their household over the holidays. 

    This country can't handle more lockdowns.

    Ted Rall (Twitter: @tedrall), the political cartoonist, columnist and graphic novelist, is the author of a new graphic novel about a journalist gone bad, "The Stringer." Order one today. You can support Ted's hard-hitting political cartoons and columns and see his work first by sponsoring his work on Patreon.



Anonymous said...

ain’t no lockdown coming. everyone will come into contact with omicron. facts are facts

Anonymous said...

The lockdown strategies have been based on the development of a successful vaccine regime which the drug companies SOLD the government. Too much money has been spent to admit openly that the regime does not have the virus nearly under control. Lockdowns are the only "politically correct" response politicians were allowed under the current plan. Too much money has been spent... Our course is set.

Anonymous said...

During the run-up to the 2022 elections, the powers that be will attempt - with full aid of the media as before - to create fear and a need for locking everyone down, allowing mail-in ballots, late/early voting, etc. to create chaos and confusion so they can either steal another election, or question the outcome through the courts, who this time might take the case(s).

Anonymous said...

Great. Another opinion from a cartoonist. The gloom and doom financial predictions of the far right did not materialize last year. Profit growth was strong for most companies, a liquidity crisis never developed, and those who wish to be employed found jobs. As for public education, it is up to the parents to make sure their children are learning. I'm sick of this "it takes a village to raise a child" nonsense now coming from the right. Guess they took a page from Hilary's playbook.

And history has shown that pandemics eventually end. I'd hardly call Trump prescient about anything.

Anonymous said...

Covid was/is an event novel to the human species in scope. Not even the 1918 flu epidemic can really compare. Nobody and no organization really knew the correct response. It was truly a "damned if you do and damned if you don't" situation for governments on all levels. It was/is a field day for nay sayers and critics who had every measure of unproven and untested proposed solutions; none for which THEY could be held accountable.

What has been accomplished with medicines, treatments, and vaccines is astounding successful, not the perfect cure all yet, but successful. The only true fools here are not the politicians but the constant nay sayers, anti-vaxxers, and conspiracy thoerists. We have seen medical and scientific breakthroughs on a scale never witnessed by human kind with a time table previously thought impossible, and we will see more.

The greatest danger to the rapid spread of covid, now, is the overwhelming of the medical system. I have an easy solution. Only those vaccinated or those with legitimate medical reasons for not being vaccinated have access to the medical system.. Not only will it ease the burden on the health care industry but also improve the gene pool.

Anonymous said...

7:38 I think this may be the first time in history someone has attributed the "It takes a village..." bullshit to the right. It's the so-called leftist progressives who diminish parental choice and advocate for a cradle to grave paternal government. Get it right.

Anonymous said...

Dumb is Dumb

Anonymous said...

I checked out the authors twitter and he currently has Covid as of 12/31. Anyone else not surprised in the least?

Anonymous said...

I knew when Fish said he was going start carting Rall, we was going to be entertained

Anonymous said...

Oh genius, lockdown failed because the idiots denied there was any health threat except to the obese and elderly they considered "expendable"( I guess they never saw a fat truck driver or dock worker) and refused to follow any protocols to reduce viral load and spread.

Unlike other countries, we could have had herd immunity as we had enough vaccines to achieve it.
But, no, too many were too clueless to realize how long " herd immunity" would take and how many more would suffer, if we just let the virus run its course.

Don't believe me? See how Quatar fares by comparison. We were also rich enough to do what they did and are doing. God save us from the deliberately ignorant and those who will deny to the grave they could ever be wrong about anything.

The good news, is I now know who doesn't give a damn about anyone but themselves and who is so irrational as not to be trusted.

Anonymous said...

@3:54, You achieve herd immunity by fucking off and letting it run its course, not by forcing and coercing people to take genetic poison that, after all that, doesn’t work.

Anonymous said...

And now @3:54, I now know who the perpetual lazy and useless people are at my employment.

The ones who stay home due to "possible exposure" every other week while the rest of us do the work.

And for the record, I followed the insane quarantine orders of 2020, got vax'd/boosted and have not even had a sniffle since 2019.

The ones who are living in fear and still masking and screaming at others seem to be the ones who keep getting exposed and needing to stay home. Weird.

Anonymous said...

In the end the only truth for both sides is that the word VACCINE no longer has teeth. Bunch of clowns.

Anonymous said...

9:54 Herd immunity is too slow alone.
Maybe your employees wouldn't have stayed at home if they'd accepted like you did that vaccines work ( which is why you haven't been sick) or some probably just didn't want to work there anymore. I know many who now work from home and making more money or who have moved on to better jobs in better work environments.

Again, Qatar tells us where we could have been if the gullible hadn't listened to those who politicized a pandemic for personal profit.

Anonymous said...

Yes, 12:55, everyone should enjoy have children die from measles and mumps and just adore the next Ebola type virus.

If only so many hadn't voted for obvious clowns...

Dr. Mengele Liked Herd Immunity said...

Herd immunity is equivalent to herd eugenics. It kills off the weak and vulnerable, ja Dr. Mengele?

Don Drane said...

7:38...I've heard zero conservatives (whom you call 'the right', failing to realize the center is full of them) speak of it taking a village to raise a child. What we're actually doing is trying to stop 'the village' from ruining the children. The only reason to 'take a page from Hillary's playbook' would be to wipe my ass if I were short of TP. Turn your cap around.

Anonymous said...

God help you! If we'd waited for herd immunity with no vaccines, our death rates would be like those in 3rd world countries.

And, as for lockdowns, the problem will be closed because the work force is sick and Yahoos, there's not be time to know what long term effects will be both in our overall health and economy.

Qatar is doing fine know ...the place where everyone got vaccinated.

I Only Speak English said...

Someone help me with this one:

'And, as for lockdowns, the problem will be closed because the work force is sick and Yahoos, there's not be time to know what long term effects will be both in our overall health and economy.'

Anonymous said...

The Blog R Dead

Anonymous said...

Well, now we have vaccinations. But, unlike other places, we don't take advantage of that. Nor are does the article compare places that did quarantine with more co-operation from its citizens to those who did nothing. It also doesn't include the " long covid" cases and their impact.

I frankly wonder if the doctor who discovered " holes" in the brains of those who died from Covid pre-vaccine and pre-Paxlovid doesn't explain our current climate of short tempers and irrationality.

I have frankly seen a personality change in more than a few people who had Covid and have had it again. Some sadly have other terrible health problems from it and they are people who were in their 40's, 50's and 60's.

We aren't doing the research needed because it's been politicized.

We are however, seeing how vaccine phobia has increased the measles and deaths from it in our young children. The author of this political piece can't dispute that. Nor does he know if the children who missed school had Covid from their families not following protocols and it was Covid that affected their learning. Or their parents failed in making sure they kept up or their schools didn't handle their end of keeping up. My grandchildren didn't falter and are winning academic awards. Their schools were top rated before the epidemic and lived up to their rating. Their parents made certain they did the work.

I didn't die nor did my husband but we lost friends (two of whom didn't want it known they had Covid)are seeing a troublesome surge in brain disorders in our peers after they had it that may be anecdotal, but my friends in places that were more disciplined aren't seeing what we are seeing here.

We did note that those of our friends with the " right connections" and who recieved an "infusion" early on, didn't get Covid even after exposure groups that had large outbreaks.

But, politics requires blind loyalty and that requires literally becoming blind in thought and observation.

Get vaccines, wear a mask when you are with others in close and confined spaces during outbreaks of anything. You'll be fine if you do. But, with politicians not wanting to solve a problem when it favors their party, problem solving never occurs.

Yes, masks are uncomfortable but EVERY DOCTOR in a hospital wears one with witha contagious patient or while doing surgery or routine procedures. But, some of you never will notice that! See if you can find someone who went into an operating room and no one was masked. Nor do you see when visiting someone at the hospital the signs on the doors of some rooms. DUH! DUH!

Nor have you looked at the students here in Mississippi and in "liberal" towns and cities whose schools shut down for a while and they got vaccinated ASAP along with their families and didn't falter academically and still won major academic awards and scholarships! 88% were academically performing well before and after and as usual, it was the students in schools in lower income communities in the counties that didn't do well. Since the counties' urban area schools were always better, results didn't change after Covid in other than poorer areas. So having parents who are educated and who care about education and don't accept excuses weren't affected. But, you can politically play with numbers and you can omit key variables like this article did.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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