OPINION by David Morgan
Asheville – Clearly, it is obvious that COVID-19 ranks high on the media’s scare scale. A Google news search on the virus brings up over 1.5 billion news results. To date, the virus has tragically killed nearly 100,000 people in the United States, and more lives will be lost. But on a scale of harmless to extremely dangerous, it would still fall into the category of slightly to mildly dangerous for most people, excluding the elderly and those with preexisting medical conditions. By comparison, most people have no idea that heart disease is the leading cause of death in America, killing around 650,000 people every year, 54,000 per month, or approximately 200,000 people between February and mid-May of this year. However, most people are not very frightened of it, like they are of COVID-19. A Google news search for heart disease brings up around 100 million results, under one-fifteenth the results of the COVID-19 search.
According to CDC data, 81% of deaths from COVID-19 in the United States are people over 65 years old, most with preexisting conditions. If you add in 55-64-year-olds that number jumps to 93%. Below 25 years old the fatality rate of COVID-19 is 0.00008%, or roughly one in 1.25 million, and yet we have shut down all schools and day-care centers, some never to open again.
According to the National Safety Council, the rate of fatality by motor-vehicle accidents is about 19 deaths per one million children between the ages of five and 14. Even more concerning is the death rate among those aged 15 to 24 of 150 deaths per million young people. Yet, according to an analysis of federal data by the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity, the rate of deaths associated with COVID-19 are as follows: 0.15 deaths per million children for children aged 5 to 14, and 1.37 deaths per million young people for those aged 15 to 24.
Still, we pursue lockdowns as the end-all solution to the problem for everyone, no matter their age nor circumstance.
Lockdowns have dangerous consequences that are rarely discussed, especially by the media, and the longer the more dangerous. We are seeing a massive increase in suicides. According to doctors at a medical center in northern California, in their hospital, deaths by suicide have surpassed deaths from the coronavirus, noting a year’s worth of suicide attempts in the past month alone.
Doctors at John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek say they have seen more deaths by suicide during this quarantine period than deaths from the COVID-19 virus. The head of the trauma in the department believes mental health is suffering so much, it is time to end the shelter-in-place order.
The numbers are unprecedented, he said. “We’ve never seen numbers like this, in such a short period of time,” he said. “I mean we’ve seen a year’s worth of suicide attempts in the last four weeks.”
They are not the only doctors speaking out. There are growing voices in the medical community warning that the continued lockdowns are having a more serious impact than the virus.
Just this week, hundreds of doctors from across the country wrote a letter to President Trump warning that protracted lockdowns have caused a “mass casualty event.”
Liquor sales have increased 300–600%, cigarettes sales have increased, rent has gone unpaid, family relationships have become frayed, and millions of well-child check-ups have been missed. Hundreds of millions are at high risk should economic conditions worsen. Poverty and financial uncertainty are closely linked to poor health.”
Keeping schools and universities closed is incalculably detrimental for children, teenagers, and young adults for decades to come.
The letter concluded, “In youths, it will be called financial instability, unemployment, despair, drug addiction, unplanned pregnancies, poverty, and abuse.”
Many bureaucrats and governors, including our own in North Carolina, create a false dichotomy of a low linkage between public health and economic well-being. However, there is sizable academic literature on this subject, all coming to the same basic conclusion: economic growth and employment dramatically improve physical health; economic decline and unemployment can be deadly.
Forced business closings, statewide stay-at-home orders, forced social distancing, and restrictions of access to medical providers have major consequences. We need to protect those who really need protection and to open our lives to living realities.