Tennessee has been in the news lately because the Nashville mayor was caught fudging data to keep businesses in the state's capital closed for longer than necessary. The outrage triggered by the story caused the mayor to relent and ease some of the restrictions. But new data compiled by Nashville for Rational COVID Policy shows that the entire premise of lockdown and mask-wearing is unfounded because the scope of the threat of the virus, as well as the effectiveness of the responses to it, are exaggerated.
Josh Stevenson, a co-founder of Nashville for Rational COVID Policy, sent me a presentation that he shared with Tennessee lawmakers, showing how unremarkable the excess deaths have been in his state and how many of them, particularly among young people, are almost certainly due to the mental health crisis induced by the gratuitous panic. This is a pattern I've noticed in the CDC excess death data from most states outside the northeast.
Stevenson, who is a computer systems engineer and data analyst, began his presentation with this 5-year line graph of all-cause deaths in Tennessee.
Nashville for Rational COVID Policy
As you can see, the above-baseline increase in all-cause deaths in Tennessee is quite unremarkable and in fact doesn't really stand out as much of an epidemic, much less one that caused such an irrational and draconian degree of panic. The trend line for this year, April 1-August 31, is only slightly higher than the existing upward trajectory from annual population growth. And of course, there hasn't been any week that has come close to the magnitude of the worst days of the 2018 flu season – yes, the epidemic that you never heard of and that never disrupted our lives, even though there were more weekly excess deaths back then than today in many states.
What is truly shocking is that the most excess deaths detected in Tennessee are among younger people, which means it's not from COVID-19, but likely from the response to it! For example, even though 31% of deaths were above the age of 81, it barely registers on an excess death chart.
Nashville for Rational COVID Policy
When you factor in the consistent baseline increase due to population growth, there are barely any excess deaths this year for those over 85.
Contrast that to the 25-44 age cohort, and you will see a notable bump in all-cause deaths.
Was there a rash of COVID deaths among young people? Nope. There were only approximately 100 reported deaths over that period of time among this age cohort. And of course, that includes those who died of motorcycle accidents but tested positive for COVID.
So where are the excess deaths coming from?
We know that drug overdoses in Nashville were up 42% during the first six months of the year and that the largest increase was among young people, according to the Metro Public Health Department of Davidson County.
Thus, our response to this virus has come full-circle. Public health officials created so much panic and mandated so much social isolation over a virus whose most noticeable casualty is now drug overdoses of young people … from the panic they sowed!
Additionally, schoolchildren are suffering from a massive loss of education. Earlier this month, the Tennessee Department of Education released preliminary data projecting a 50% decrease in proficiency rates in third-grade reading and a 65% decrease in proficiency in math.
Here is the twisted irony in the damage we have done to children: There are literally no excess deaths at all among those under 25 in Tennessee:
Yet most schools are making children either learn remotely or sit in class with a mask and plexiglass. Josh and his team also did an analysis comparing the outcomes in 21 counties where masks are not mandated vs. 17 counties where they are. Tennessee has no statewide mask mandate, but a number of counties have imposed them. Here are their results:
Analysis: Are Mask *Mandates* associated with better population mortality or hospitalization outcomes? Data from T… https://t.co/p8lOBx42Lq— Josh - Data Analyst in Nashville (@Josh - Data Analyst in Nashville)1600954401.0
The positivity rate for the mask-mandate counties is slightly higher, as is their death rate and hospitalization rate.
Masks are the most visible sign of panic, turning America's streets into the scene of a medical horror show and our classrooms into operating rooms. That is why the panic crowd has turned mask-wearing into a national cult. It perpetuates the very fear that has led to the depression and substance abuse over a virus that doesn't harm young people. Ironically, this symbol does nothing to stop the spread of the virus.