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New Study Shows Lockdowns May Have Caused More Harm Than Good

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A new study is showing that the lockdowns imposed by states during the COVID-19 pandemic may have actually done more harm than they did good.

Wallethub, an online publication, collected data that measured the severity of the lockdown across all 50 states. Researchers from the Baker Institute at Rice University then took that data and compared states with the strictest lockdown measures to those with a more relaxed approach.

Their goal was to try to measure the actual effect of the lockdowns on life in America. Their findings, as the study reads:

“By shutting down large portions of the economy, lockdowns were accompanied by the failure of many businesses and a massive increase in unemployment. While the entire country has been affected by the pandemic, low-income and middle-income workers have been disproportionately impacted.

“As a result of furloughs, layoffs and general economic retraction, as many as 8 million Americans have fallen into poverty since the pandemic began.”

Not everything is about money, of course. But the researchers note that economic damage to the scale that was created during the pandemic lockdowns have significant and far-reaching implications. They have an effect not just on people’s wallets, but also cause physical and mental health issues.

As the study reads:

“Unemployment also has consequences beyond economics. Research conducted during the pandemic indicates unemployed Americans are at an increased risk for mental health-related illness.

“Researchers are also exploring the relationship between the pandemic and increases in substance abuse and domestic violence, though these findings are disputed and require further investigation.”

The researchers found that states that imposed stricter lockdowns during the pandemic — either in terms of the length of the lockdowns, the severity of the restrictions or both — saw a decline in their death rates. However, the researchers also say that the lockdowns may not have actually been the ultimate determining factor in that decrease in the death rate.

As they wrote:

“We cannot rule out the possibility that the local population’s fear in the early days of COVID-19 determined both the strictness of state-imposed lockdowns and subsequent COVID-19 death rates, with no direct casual link between state actions and subsequent observed deaths.

“In fact, economists have found that legal restrictions explain only 7 percentage points of the 60 percentage-point decline in foot traffic measured by cellphone activity through mid-May. The study attributes the vast majority of the decline in foot traffic to consumers choosing of their own volition to avoid commercial activity.”

In other words, the states that imposed the lockdowns may not have done any actual good for the people they were trying to protect. Instead, they may have done more long-term damage from shutting down life and sheltering businesses.

The researchers of the study concluded:

“While lockdowns may have been effective at reducing DDPM (daily deaths per million), they are also associated with considerable harms. These harms do not necessarily outweigh the benefits of lockdowns, particularly in regions faced with rising daily death rates.”

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