Since COVID-19 was declared a public health emergency on January 31, the American way of life has been completely upended. Schools and businesses are shut down, and nearly all of the US population — approximately 97 percent — has been ordered to stay at home by their state and local governments. The fallout has been significant: the trauma of loved ones dying all alone, living in constant fear of COVID-19, and losing numerous fundamental freedoms — from the ability to assemble and worship, to the ability to earn a livelihood.
With so many lives being profoundly affected in such a short time, people are now wondering whether the emergency measures being imposed to curb the spread of coronavirus are more harmful than the virus itself. Over the past few weeks, we have heard positive news reports that the virus is not nearly as lethal as originally projected. At the same time, we have witnessed a staggering rise in unemployment, with more than 16 million Americans filing for unemployment benefits between March 15 and April 4. Many small businesses have been forced to shut down. Entire business sectors are in distress. And the International Monetary Fund is now projecting that our country is headed for the worst economic recession it has experienced since the Great Depression.
Citizens Are Struggling To Survive Under Lockdown
Stand for Health Freedom recently conducted a survey of our readers to gauge how they are being affected by the pandemic. Nearly 6,000 individuals responded with heart-breaking stories of their struggles to survive financially, physically and emotionally. Some of the reports we received are dire: individuals being denied life-saving medical treatments to preserve supplies for COVID-positive patients; mothers being separated from their newborn babies; pregnant women being bullied into having C-sections to avoid hospital crowding; and widespread despair, depression and devastation from job losses, isolation and a lack of support systems.
These reports, along with knowledge about the devastating effects of joblessness — including stress-induced heart attacks and suicide — give rise to a growing realization that government-sanctioned orders intended to contain the spread of the coronavirus are creating widespread devastation. One in four Americans has either lost part or all of their income since the end of March, and the GDP has fallen by 24 percent. A children’s shelter in Indianapolis reported a 472% increase in demand for its services in a period of weeks. A restaurant owner in Washington state spent more than eight years growing his establishment into an icon in his city — only to see his assets, retirement plan and livelihood shattered when he had to suddenly (and perhaps permanently) close his doors. Industries nationwide are seeking trillions in government aid. We are only weeks into this national emergency; the economic fallout under a continued lockdown will be far more profound.
US Deaths Dramatically Lower Than Expected
On March 14, the Imperial College model — the model used as the basis for the drastic measures that were taken across the country — estimated that over 2 million Americans would die if the entire nation was not locked down. The estimations also cited the need for social distancing measures for as long as 18 months “until a vaccine is available.” The lead author, Neil Ferguson, later unapologetically retracted that estimate, even though it had already adversely affected hundreds of millions of lives. Ferguson also acknowledged that two-thirds of people whom the Imperial College projected would die from COVID-19 would have died with or without the infection due to chronic disease and related co-morbidities.
Likewise, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and an advisor to President Trump, also used the Imperial College estimates to spur President Trump’s call for social distancing and widespread stay-at-home orders. A few weeks later, however, an editorial by Fauci in the New England Journal of Medicine“Covid-19 – Navigating the Uncharted,” suggested the case fatality rate might be as low as 0.1% — in other words, akin to the mortality rate of a severe seasonal flu.
Moreover, an April 10 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that nearly 90% of those hospitalized for COVID-19 have an underlying condition. This is in line with the Italian government’s top health agency finding that 99% of COVID-related fatalities within their population were from individuals with pre-existing, life-threatening conditions.
Decisions Affecting Millions Are Being Made Based On “Suspected” COVID Deaths
Both the US health statistics agency and the World Health Organization have announced that the certification of “deaths by COVID-19” require zero proof that the virus actually caused the death. This means that the official death statistics for COVID-19 do not require cases to be positively confirmed through virus testing. Cases in which COVID-19 are merely suspected to be a cause of death are being recorded as official COVID-19 deaths. Public officials cannot make properly informed decisions based on inaccurate information, so we must urge them to reconsider drastic emergency measures they imposed based on faulty data.
It’s Time to Stand – Urge Your Lawmakers to Re-open Your City and State
Americans are wondering how long they will be required to comply with orders that force healthy individuals to indefinitely stay at home and businesses deemed as “non-essential” to stay closed. We recognize that state governments have very broad police powers in times of emergency. However, the state must use those powers wisely. Arbitrary and oppressive government action is unconstitutional, even during a declared national emergency. This means that state and local lawmakers have a duty to take the least restrictive measures in response to issues that stem from an emergency.
There have been indications this week that states may plan to reopen soon. We must, however, let our governors and mayors know that it is not their job to guarantee health or to privilege certain lives over others. Individuals are capable of taking precautions to avoid COVID-19. Those who are vulnerable or who have COVID-19 should stay home, but healthy individuals need to return to work so that our jobs, our economy and our well-being are not destroyed.
It’s time to stand and request commonsense policies to protect the vulnerable while restoring livelihoods and mitigating the repercussions of an indefinite shutdown. Email your governor and mayor NOW to urge them to lift all stay-at-home orders no later than May 1. Then share this with your family, friends and those in your community so they can have the opportunity to stand.
*If you live in Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah or Wyoming, your governor will not receive a letter because we found no indication of an order for healthy individuals to stay at home or for businesses to close.
**If you live in one of the top 250 cities in America by population, your mayor will receive a letter so long as your city is not one of the seven for which we found no indication of an order for healthy individuals to stay at home or for businesses to close.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does saying the solution is worse than the problem mean that you value the economy over human life?
This is not a matter of valuing money over life. We can prevent further lives from being lost and permanently damaged from the shutdown and simultaneously protect those who are vulnerable to the coronavirus.
Presently, most of the US population is living under some form of stay-at-home order, and these restrictions have had detrimental effects. Job losses, fractured healthcare services, social isolation, and a lack of support systems have led to widespread despair, depression and devastation. In addition to extreme social isolation and loneliness, we are witnessing an increase in child abuse, domestic violence, drug abuse, suicides, poverty, stress-induced heart attacks and more.
Moreover, a growing body of scientific research shows that social isolation itself has significant adverse health implications, both psychological and physiological. In fact, one study shows that loneliness and social isolation have the same cardiovascular effects as smoking 15 cigarettes a day; both are linked to an increase in mortality as well as illnesses such as cancer, stroke and dementia. Ultimately, these collective outcomes are far more harmful than the coronavirus.
Isn’t it too soon to reopen?
The statistical model that was used to spur the shutdown was completely flawed. Even though the projections were retracted and later adjusted, the US government did not change its policies despite a lack of justification. At the same time, the media and special interest groups are inciting panic and fear through a barrage of round-the-clock stories that emphasize illness, death and the need for lockdowns, making Americans feel particularly vulnerable and afraid to leave their homes.
Based on numbers that are emerging — including an estimate in late March from Anthony Fauci and other health officials — case fatality rates may be as low as 0.1%, akin to a severe seasonal influenza. With this new data, more and more doctors are questioning the rationale behind stay-at-home restrictions, particularly those that are indefinite. The longer we stay in lockdown, the longer our population will suffer mentally, physically and financially.
Additionally, approximately 90 percent of Americans who have passed away from COVID-19 were already sick with one or more comorbidities. We can protect those who are most vulnerable — the elderly and those with underlying health conditions —by encouraging them to self-isolate. Those measures are not necessary for all individuals. Ultimately, it is incumbent on individuals to decide what is best for their personal health and safety.
Don’t we need testing before we reopen?
Again, the US data shows the case mortality rate is in line with the seasonal flu, around 0.1%, not the originally projected 4%. Because we know who is at most risk for severe effects, no forceful measures are warranted, including testing.
Tests can be made available, but employment and civil liberties should not be conditional upon testing. Denying individuals the right to earn a living violates their constitutional rights; restricting the movement of healthy individuals violates their constitutional rights; and requiring mandatory workplace testing violates privacy rights under HIPAA.
Additionally, it should be noted that there is a there is a lack of consensus in the scientific community over what officially constitutes a “COVID-19 carrier.” Despite an explosion of peer-reviewed publications, there has been no conclusive correlation between viral load, symptoms and transmission. That makes it very challenging to quantify positive and negative test results.
Lastly, we do not have widespread capabilities in place to test nearly 330 million Americans. Many companies are working to develop tests rapidly, including tests that are easy to administer and can be done in the privacy of your home (like home pregnancy tests), but we are months if not years away.
Do you not care about those who are at high risk?
Those who are at high risk are encouraged to self-isolate, and their communities can take steps to honor and protect them. However, isolation measures should not be done by government force.
News reports say the coronavirus is dangerous and the shutdown is necessary. How do you explain that?
Very simply, the news media is known for over-reporting emerging health threats like SARS, oversimplifying issues as well as sensationalizing stories to increase ratings and profits. As stated previously, the New England Journal of Medicine reported in March that the coronavirus was much less lethal than originally believed, with a case fatality rate of about 0.1%. This is not being widely reported, even though it is information that was authored by White House health advisor Anthony Fauci. The fact the shutdown was predicated on faulty data that was later retracted is also not being widely publicized.
Coronavirus is an important topic affecting each of our lives. New scientific developments about the pandemic and society’s response to it are rapidly unfolding. However, the pandemic is dominating headlines with terrifying narratives that are generating fear and hysteria. These headlines lead to increased audience engagement and advertising revenues for media outlets, but they are also succeeding in instilling panic and uncertainty in the American public.
Studies show that exposure to fear and acute stress results in compromised immune function that can subsequently affect brain function. So individuals need to balance the need for information with the need to safeguard their health by minimizing their exposure to fear. Most important, people need to take personal responsibility for their welfare and decide what is best for them (and their family) using reason, logic and facts — not fear.