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Horowitz: Stay-at-home orders are the worst thing you can do in a pandemic

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It's clear that the mask obsession will continue indefinitely, especially in the blue states. When it comes to lockdowns, it might appear that even all the blue states have moved on from them at this point. However, it's important for anyone who cares about liberty and true public health to make sure a provision is codified into law to ban stay-at-home orders in the future. Failure to do so will ensure that lockdowns become the new baseline policy response to any future pandemic flu or even erroneous prediction by the "experts" of an impending pandemic.

If you listen carefully to every governor announcing the end of restrictions (except masks, of course) they are not doing so out of admission that such policies don't work and are actually harmful. It's just that the current case level no longer justifies the continuation of those policies and saddling a Democrat administration with the political liability of the economic consequences headed into the midterm elections. But the minute there is a warning from Fauci and his ilk of another pandemic, perhaps even the return of the seasonal flu, they will immediately push lockdowns.

The numbers have been examined upside-down and inside-out, and nobody can find a single correlation between lockdowns and positive results relative to any control group that did not implement those policies. Dozens of studies have shown zero correlation based on geographical and seasonal comparison. The only correlation between lockdowns and unique outcomes is more unemployment:

A new working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research demonstrates why that is the case.

"Micro evidence contradicts the public-health ideal in which households would be places of solitary confinement and zero transmission," concluded University of Chicago economist Casey B. Mulligan after analyzing the progression of primary and secondary attack rates by profession and comparing them to household rates. "Instead, the evidence suggests that 'households show the highest transmission rates' and that 'households are high-risk settings for the transmission of [COVID-19].'"

We always knew that household transmission was the key ingredient to the pandemic early on. Last year, data from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health showed 83% of cases resulted from household exposure. At the same time, none of the venues from a list of 21 categories – including K-12 schools, restaurants and food courts, and retail and services – ever represented more than 2% of the share of cases.

Thus, we shut down our economies and left people at home for longer periods of time with less ventilation and closer quarters than they would have otherwise spent their time.

What's worse is that when all the public statements from Fauci Inc., state advertisements, and highway signs suggested people should "stay home, save lives," many fearful citizens took that literally. I have neighbors who literally never left their homes and stayed home in close quarters, living with depression and anxiety. Not only did that make it more likely that they would spread the virus to their households if they caught it during one of the times they inevitably had to be around other people, but it depleted their health in a way that made them most vulnerable to this virus. All the evidence shows that exercise, low BMI, and exposure to sun and vitamin D are among the best ways to boost one's immune system against serious illness from COVID-19. The lockdown mentality and policies actually ensured that people would suffer from all three of these vulnerabilities like pouring lighter fluid on a fire.

Weight gain

The mix of panic-inducing anxiety and reduced human activity caused Americans to gain weight … big-time. According to a survey conducted by the American Psychological Association, 61% experienced undesired weight gains during the COVID panic of the past year, with the average weight gain being a whopping 29 pounds. Millennials reported gaining an average of 41 pounds, a trend that will create a long-term time-bomb for heart disease, diabetes, and an endless litany of other ailments.

It turns out, as we've known all along, that obesity is the 800-pound gorilla in the room for almost anyone under the age of 65 who gets a severe case of COVID-19. A CDC study from March found "A J-shaped (nonlinear) relationship was observed between continuous BMI and risk" of three outcomes: ICU admissions, ventilation, and death. Overall, 78% of the people in the study sample who were hospitalized with COVID-19 were overweight or obese. Thus, we took a younger population that was largely unaffected by this virus and made a great many more of them vulnerable through excess weight gain.

Loss of exercise

Not only is exercise critical to staving off obesity, it also puts people at inherently lower risk of serious illness from COVID-19. A recent study of over 48,000 people diagnosed with the virus last year found that lack of exercise makes the patient 1.73 times more likely to die from COVID with those "constantly inactive" being 2.49 times more likely to die.

"Even after we included variables such as obesity and smoking in the analysis, we still saw inactivity was strongly associated with much higher odds of hospitalization, ICU admission, and death compared with moderate physical activity or any activity at all," said one of the co-authors of the study, which was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. They found that "other than being over age 60 or having a history of organ transplant, being consistently inactive conferred the highest risk for death from COVID-19."

So, what did the government and media do? Encourage everyone to stay home! They even closed the gyms and arrested gym owners. Then the gyms that were opened had mask mandates, and in many places, they mandated masks outdoors. What was the net effect? Further dissuading people from exercising, thereby making them more vulnerable to COVID.

Another American study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that masking led to less exercise. "Cloth face masks led to a 14% reduction in exercise time and 29% decrease in VO2max, attributed to perceived discomfort associated with mask-wearing," concluded the authors of the randomized controlled trial. "Compared with no mask, participants reported feeling increasingly short of breath and claustrophobic at higher exercise intensities while wearing a cloth face mask."

Lack of sunshine

It's already become clear from dozens of studies that one's vitamin D levels are nearly perfectly correlated with outcomes of COVID-illness. Yet so many people took the dictate to stay home literally and never left their houses even to get sunshine. Most Americans are already vitamin D deficient, and government never warned people doing this to take daily high-dose supplements. In fact, they never apprised the public that vitamin D should have been the mask and toilet paper of last spring. The result is that we had people dying a year later after they had months to bump up their vitamin D levels and instead saw them plummet as they avoided the sun's vitamin D as if it were the plague itself. Wearing a mask over the few parts of one's body that are exposed to direct sunlight certainly didn't help either.

Imagine if our government and media had made exercise, weight loss, and vitamin D the crazed obsession that was instead directed to masking and lockdowns, which worked against all three COVID-mitigating strategies. Imagine how many fewer people would have died from COVID and other ailments.

Taken together, I don't think the government could possibly have found a better way to maximize deaths from both COVID and the COVID response than their approach of panic, fear, lockdowns, and masking.

How prophetic were the words of D.A. Henderson, the former dean of Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, who is widely credited with helping to eradicate smallpox, when he wrote in 2016 that lockdowns would produce so many negative effects that "this mitigation measure should be eliminated from serious consideration." He advised, "Experience has shown that communities faced with epidemics or other adverse events respond best and with the least anxiety when the normal social functioning of the community is least disrupted." If only we had listened.
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