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Challenging the groupthink on lockdowns

National Review Editor Rich Lowry’s column on Wednesday offered a provocative headline: “Where does Ron DeSantis go to get his apology?” It’s a fair question.

Over the past few weeks, the national media have simply thrashed Republican governors like DeSantis of Florida and Brian Kemp in Georgia for reopening their states too quickly, or others like South Dakota’s Kristi Noem and Iowa’s Kim Reynolds for not forcing residents to stay at home until, well, who knows when. Meanwhile, Democrats who went to full and utter lockdown — such as Gavin Newsom in California — are the real heroes, the media wants us to believe.

The number-crunching website Statista.com offers a little insight into what the data tell us. Measuring COVID-19-related deaths per 100,000 residents, Statista shows as of Thursday that the states with the worst death rates are decidedly blue. That includes even those who have nominal GOP governors, like Maryland and Massachusetts, who issued stay-at-home orders.

Meanwhile, at the bottom of that list are red states. 

To look at some of the numbers, California is considered by some to be the gold standard in protecting citizens from COVID-19. Its death rate is 9 people per 100,000 residents. Yet Florida’s is 10, South Dakota is at 5 and Arkansas, where another GOP governor did not hand down a stay-at-home order, has just 3.  

The reason for this can vary. For instance, red states tend to have more diffused populations.

But however it occurred, the numbers reinforce a point made this week by William Briggs, a statistician, hospital consultant and researcher and policy adviser at the conservative Heartland Institute.

Briggs looked at America’s internal numbers and found that the eight states that did not mandate staying at home fared no worse, and sometimes outperformed, those that clamped down. The outcome, he wrote, is that it’s “plain that there is no way, none at all, to claim using these comparisons that lockdowns were successful.”

Briggs added, “Since almost all of California’s deaths were in the LA area (though the entire massive state was officially locked down), most deaths in Illinois were in the Chicago area, Michigan’s around Detroit, and New York and New Jersey’s around the New York City metropolitan area, it’s very likely population density played a role. Which argues against lockdowns, since everybody had to be cooped up in tight quarters.”

Briggs uncovered similar results when he surveyed the globe. Countries that implemented full-scale lockdowns did not save more lives than those that didn’t. “We have already seen, just in decrepit Europe alone, that Belgium, UK, Andorra, Spain, Italy, and France, all locked down, had higher mortality rates than Sweden, with Belgium being more than twice as high,” Briggs observed.

“The only claim I make that is certain is you cannot conclude from this data that lockdowns worked,” Briggs wrote. 

Briggs even promotes the heresy, as some see it, that lockdown proponents cannot prove their method achieved the main objective: flattening the curve. 

Presumably, that’s because we don’t know what would have happened without lockdowns. South Dakota, Arkansas and others help make that point.

Said Briggs: “A better response is to say, ‘Lockdowns force people inside and lessen their contact with others, therefore limiting the spread of the virus.’ This is countered by ‘Lockdowns force healthy and sick into tight quarters, therefore enhancing the spread of the virus.’”

“It is far from clear allowing ‘essential’ businesses to remain open and the forced closing (or other disruptions) of ‘inessential’ businesses made any difference whatsoever to the spread of the virus,” Briggs added. “The majority agreed to remove everyone’s liberty, in the belief that they themselves would be protected. Fear rules.”

Briggs argues the doomsayers prevailed because they commanded the information mechanism. “There was almost no reporting on states which did not remove liberty from its citizens,” he noted. “The experts were so sure they were right, they refused to look at data proving them wrong.”

Briggs’s analysis makes a sound case for seeking out more diverse sources of information, and for challenging the conventional wisdom, especially when that wisdom is so much in doubt.

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  1. Linda May 22, 2020

    I live unfortunately in ca and it is no gold standard and greaseball Newsom is no hero!

  2. Former Marine May 22, 2020

    Anyone else notice that some Democrats are trying to rid the country of older citizens . I think the reasons is We have more wisdom from life experiences and remember the old Russia , Vietnam and the cold war and better understanding of communism .Many also have live with bomb shelters under their homes . If an individual wants to know about what was just said talk to someone born in the forties to the late fifties and listen closely what You are told .Ask several from that period .

  3. Griff Bell May 22, 2020

    I think it’s pretty well agreed that this whole thing is a pre-planned pandemic so as the old saying goes ” figures lie and liars figure”. The goal of causing the economy to crash prior to the election was accomplished and the number of lives lost to Covid only takes into account those with the virus. There are thousands of other deaths from suicide and domestic abuse, caused by the lock down, that aren’t being included in any of this. But those powers who wanted this don’t care. As long as they win the next election, the lives lost are just casualties of “War”. I won’t name names but we know who they are.

  4. Karen R Teiken May 22, 2020

    Once again the liberal fear mongers and their staunch cohorts in the main stream media have taken over the country, throwing out the facts that didn’t fit into their far-left, communist ideology. They claim that science is king, but unfortunately science is proving them wrong and conservatives right, but no one will ever know that because, as usual, the main stream media has so far refused to let facts get in the way of the far-left agenda.

  5. Arielle Lancaster May 22, 2020

    I have read that Bill Gates is involved with de-population. It seems to me, that older people are one of his targets, with this Coronavirus.
    The Nursing Home debacle in N.Y. and several other areas, proves my point .

  6. Mark May 22, 2020

    Well put brother. Semper Fi

  7. Josey May 22, 2020

    Spot on Marine, Semper Fi! I deliberately left the word “Former” off your name because as an old soldier, I know there is no such thing as “former”. Few realize and history books will not acknowledge that, Vietnam was actually a war against China and that, after the Tet Offensive in 1968, we had basically won the war, the NVA was spent, as Tet failed to cause the south to rebel and although there were sever casualties, the US kicked butt. As for growing up during the Cold War, so much is being lost to history. They know nothing of child growing up with a very real fear of a nuclear attack. The drills of hiding under your desk at school, Civil Defense fallout shelter signs posted around town, most every city had a siren to warn of eminent attack that was tested every day at noon, we referred to as the “Noon Whistle”, the Berlin Wall, PSA commercials on TV and radio many times a day of that lame Bert the Turtle, touting “Duck and Cover”, when in reality, even as a child, we all knew that if there were a nuclear, we would be vaporized, “Duck and Cover” my ass, the Iron Curtain, and those that could afford it had fallout shelters built, yep, we grew up in very uncertain and down right scary times, but you knw what, we did it! We didn’t hide, we didn’t go into lockdown, for that matter in 1968 the H1N1 Avian Flu killed more than 100,000 in the US and we responded with Woodstock! We did not cower in our basements, same in 1976 and 2008. Seems now the population has a large portion that not only lacks honor and integrity, but also courage.

  8. Greg Ostman May 22, 2020

    IMO there’s always been conflicting opinion between the generations. On some level we assume the ones before us didn’t get it right and that somehow we know how to fix everything the previous generations messed up. Then as people age hopefully a light goes on and they’ll realize it’s not possible to fix everything but we should try every chance we get. People will always ignore history, our present world condition is proof of that but then it’s no different than any other point in human history except that it’s OUR history to write as we go. We all shouldn’t assume our politicians, leaders, and media have our best interest in mind when doing THEIR jobs because no matter what, all the decisions they make do have consequences sometimes fatally and/or fiscally. When we put our trust in others we shouldn’t expect a perfect outcome, besides what you think is perfect I might not agree so don’t hold your breath! I suppose there’s some that don’t mind having less old people around but can’t prove intentional action to cause deaths in the elderly maybe more a matter of ignorance and naivety, which if was criminal we’d all be in jail. Yes that’s benefit of the doubt. I hope most do good most of the time, if we use some humility and keep in mind beyond our gift of life, everything we have is more than we deserve!

  9. Terry May 22, 2020

    They’re socialists; the ends justifies the means; individuals do not count – people are just cogs in the machine. They know they can’t beat the President in a fair election so they will do whatever to keep it from being fair.

  10. Nick Luy May 23, 2020

    Republicans are smartest than democrats. Blue governors are incompetents and due to their hate for Trump, are willing to destroy the economy. Will people realize how evil are they? Will people remember on November 3? Hope so.

  11. Madelyn Terreri May 24, 2020

    This lockdown has gone on long enough. It is about time we opened up every state and got back to business where we can go for a haircut, see our doctors of which our doctors have shut their doors to visits and our Chiropractor shut his doors but a few remain open for business. I don’t get that one bit. I am sick and tired of being told to stay home and not go anywhere but the grocery store drug store and home. Businesses need to open up and so the economy can get back to normal despite the lockdown. This article points out there is no evidence that a lockdown helped flatten the curve, what do we believe is the truth of this whole thing? This lockdown is a taste of what communisim is all about, the democrats and their communistic ways of them taking away our freedoms and our religious liberty by closing down churches. I heard our catholic church will reopen on June 8. I hope that goes for the state of NJ to reopen everything! This is gone on too long!

  12. Harley Andes May 25, 2020

    And they vote more conservatively that’s why they want to get rid of the elderly.

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