Even when the outcomes stare him straight in the face, Louisiana Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards still ignores the science attached to government handling of the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic. That ethos and the playbook it spawns, embraced by his fellow Democrats helming their states, bodes ill for human freedom and dignity going forward.
Last week, Edwards took the opportunity to extend gubernatorial restrictions on state citizens that have constituted his policy response to the virus, which include compulsory face coverings for most individuals in most public settings, limitations on public gatherings and commerce, and the outright closures of some targeted businesses. Things have improved slightly, as the state has fallen to only seventh in per capita deaths among the states – a trailing indicator that should show relative decline as an early adopter now burning through a reduced uninfected population pool – but Edwards’ policy more than anything else has caused this lamentable statistic.
Because it doesn’t follow the science, as confirmed days prior to his announcement with the release of some follow-up research from the middle of last year. Stanford University researchers compared the heavier-handed policy response of eight countries, including the U.S., with the lighter touch of two, Sweden and South Korea. The former has logged statistics equivalent with other developed states and better than many while instituting partial public gathering bans and face coverings in certain situations rarely and mostly only recently, and the latter has done much better compared to almost anywhere in the world while only recently introducing any restrictions at all outside of isolated instances and regarding the most packed social environments (although many of its population voluntarily began wearing masks in public starting about a year ago).
The study noted that extensive lockdowns, defined as limiting commerce and personal movement, had no clear or significant benefits when measuring spread of the virus. At best, more restrictive measures brought limited benefits in a few countries studied, but weren’t even necessary because the main driver of responses that limited spread were less restrictive measures, such as wearing masks and practicing physical distancing.
In fact, in most instances the stricter measures actually resulted in case increases, which the authors attributed to forcing more people to stay confined in small groups where transmission more easily could occur. This may explain why they discovered deaths happened more frequently in nursing homes in jurisdictions where strict measures were employed.
The study corroborated a British government group that last fall had noted the weakness of the impact of more restrictive measures in previous studies, and it debunked a much more publicized one that had alleged effectiveness of greater restrictiveness. It also backed World Health Organization advice from last year regarding influenza, which observed the paucity of evidence for business closures.
In conclusion, the authors declared that the evidence of weak-to-nonexistent benefits of more severe measures – ones Edwards continues to champion – couldn’t outweigh the significant costs to that strategy, which includes lost or less efficient school instructional time for children, delayed medical treatment, drug abuse, increased amounts of mental health issues and suicides, and economic difficulties. At the same time, voluntary distancing (or perhaps mandatory if governments put capacity constraints onto commerce) or coverings appeared as effective without imposing nearly the costs.
Meanwhile, Democrats, seeing use of the pandemic as an excuse for government to consolidate power in an authoritarian fashion, and its use as a tactic to cultivate inordinate fear in order to win elections to enhance achievement of that agenda, continue to keep the noose tight in the hopes that they will train the public to become accustomed to it. And with the news that perpetual infections of the virus that may or may not be readily curbed with vaccines, like the constant and ever-evolving strains of the flu, will come over the next few years, expect them to try to convince the public of a permanent emergency that will facilitate their drive to achieve one-party rule.
Science negates the need for governments to impose heavy-handed measures to combat a virus with which the world will have to live going forward. Edwards won’t acknowledge that, to the detriment of Louisianans.