Stephen Moore: Coronavirus for dummies

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Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

We are now almost one year from the dark days when the coronavirus first hit these shores. Why are the politicians’ making the same policy mistakes today that they made nine months ago? The 300,000+ deaths are an act of nature, but the virus’s death and despair have been compounded by acts of man — i.e., foolish politicians.

Haven’t we learned anything about how to combat this virus without slamming shut our economy? Yes. And so, in the hopes that these errors of government are corrected, I present some well-established truths about how to keep us safe from the virus:

No. 1: Yes, COVID-19 is a very dangerous disease for those over the age of 70 and for those who are severely overweight or with preexisting health issues. For young and healthy people, the risks remain miniscule.

No. 2: Lockdowns have had very limited efficacy in reducing death rates from the virus. I recently examined the correlation between the stringency of business lockdowns in states and their corresponding death rates. The relationship is slightly positive. In other words, strict lockdowns have NOT been a smart strategy to stop the spread of the disease. Sequestering the elderly and the infirm is a much more effective strategy — something New York, New Jersey and Michigan failed to do.

No. 3: The factor most associated with death rates from the virus is the population density of an area. Pandemics are primarily urban diseases. If you want to minimize your health risks, get out of the big cities like Chicago or New York.

No. 4: The only statistically significant impact of lockdowns is SEVERE and potentially long-term damage to the local and state businesses and workers. Another way to put this is lockdowns do not flatten the curve of the virus, but they do flatten the economy and put millions of Americans in long unemployment lines.

No. 5: Almost all of the severe lockdowns are in blue states with Democratic governors, and these are the states with very high unemployment rates. Here are the unemployment rates in blue states with severe lockdowns: New Jersey 10%, Nevada 10.1%, New York 8.4%, Connecticut 8.4%, and California 8.2%. These blue-state unemployment rates are almost twice as high as the rates in states that have minimal or no lockdowns: Nebraska 3.1%, South Dakota 3.5%, Iowa 3.6%, Utah 4.3%, and Alabama 4.4%.

No. 6: The blue states of America, led by Democratic governors and mayors, have tragically turned a health crisis into an economic crisis.

My New Year’s wish is that Democratic governors stop the misery of soup lines and unemployment lines and small-business bankruptcies and open up their stores, restaurants, shopping centers and schools — now.

Stephen Moore is a senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation and an economic consultant with FreedomWorks. He is the co-author of “Trumponomics: Inside the America First Plan to Revive the American Economy.”

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