Imposing lockdown policies to protect public health and mitigate death is increasingly looking overwrought. New data makes continuing these lockdowns downright destructive.

Stay-at-home lockdowns imposed by most states have slowed the coronavirus. This has prevented too many people from being simultaneously infected to the point of overwhelming the hospital system. That critical time, in early spring, is passed.

The continued lockdowns are unwarranted and ineffective in preventing deaths from Covid-19. Lockdowns have spread out the number of deaths over a longer time period. Still, the number of people getting infected with coronavirus has steadily increased, as have the number of deaths, during which most states where in lockdown.

It was recently reported in New York State that 66 percent of patients with Covid symptoms who checked into hospitals were individuals who “locked down” at home. They were not “essential workers.” They caught it from home, with many such people either retired or unemployed. These results came from a New York State commissioned three-day survey of patients hospitalized with Covid-like symptoms.

Meanwhile, the state of Georgia in late April, began to reopen businesses against a cacophony of opposition that predicted it was too soon, and infection and death rates would spike. Neither has occurred.

There have been a costly lessons brewing for some time. The initial coronavirus models predicting imminent death caused massive societal changes to save lives. The New York survey and the infinitesimal death rates in all but five states now cast serious doubt on lockdowns, the modeling itself, and the now literal guesswork about a second wave.

These initial lockdown policies were imposed based on the fear that this pandemic could kill more than 2 million Americans based on what turned out to be outlandish modeling from the Royal College of London.

This is a microcosm of the climate industry’s use of similarly bogus climate change models to predict a much more distant future catastrophe. They in turn should be scrutinized and not permitted by politicians to transform the entire society by locking down our lifestyles and destroying our occupations for what are illusory gains for the Earth and humanity.

The coronavirus has, at this writing, taken nearly 90,000 lives in the United States (a number that may be exaggerated). It has been incorrectly described as the worst pandemic since the 1918 Spanish flu that claimed 675,000 lives in the U.S. and 50 million worldwide. Rather, Covid-19 so far is the worst since the 1968 “Hong Kong flu” that killed 100,000 Americans and 4 million people globally – with no lockdowns.

The year 1968 was one of the most turbulent in the United States, with war, assassinations, and urban riots. The 100,000 deaths from the Hong Kong influenza was 0.05 percent of the U.S. population of 200 million.

As with Covid-19, the ’68 influenza was highly contagious and would have led to more deaths but for the fact that millions of Americans were immune from exposure to another pandemic flu from the prior decade. The 1957-58 influenza killed 116,000 Americans out of a population of nearly 175 million (0.07%).

With thousands of Americans dead from Covid-19, it is no comfort to those who have suffered the loss of loved ones and colleagues to assert that it is not as bad as a previous pandemic from 50 or 100 years ago.

The present day coronavirus, as tragic as it is from a health standpoint, nonetheless remains below the absolute numbers from the late ‘50s and ‘60s, and far below the percentages of Americans who died. A total of 217,000 Americans would have to die from Covid-19 to match the rate suffered in the 1958 pandemic, and 165,000 would have to die to reach the 1968 percentage.

Meanwhile, we have added $4 trillion and counting to the national debt in a single year, and now 36 million Americans have been forced into unemployment. Ongoing protests and lawsuits against lockdowns are burgeoning.

I’ve been calling since mid-April for the opening of the country, back when “only” 10 million people had lost their jobs.

We have not reached pandemic death rates near what was suffered in 1958 and 1968, yet in 2020 America civil liberties and livelihoods have been attacked under the guise of public health. Encouragingly, stay-at-home lockdowns have been finally easing in numerous states.

Economic lockdowns may have helped initially to slow the coronavirus, but longer-term are ineffective and counterproductive. It is long past time to get back to work.


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  • Peter Murphy

    Peter Murphy is Senior Fellow at CFACT. He has researched and advocated for a variety of policy issues, including education reform and fiscal policy, both in the non-profit sector and in government in the administration of former New York Governor George Pataki. He previously wrote and edited The Chalkboard weblog for the NY Charter Schools Association, and has been published in numerous media outlets, including The Hill, New York Post, Washington Times and the Wall Street Journal. Twitter: @PeterMurphy26 Website: