Biden’s COVID-19 Doom and Gloom Team Is Harmful to Recovering from Pandemic | Citizens Against Government Waste

Biden’s COVID-19 Doom and Gloom Team Is Harmful to Recovering from Pandemic

The WasteWatcher

Just as Americans are beginning to see the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel and President Biden has said everyone will be eligible for a vaccine by May 1 and with the country getting closer to normal by July 4, two of his top advisors participated in one of the most counterproductive and depressing press conferences since the beginning of the pandemic.  The Wall Street Journal’s James Freeman wrote a spirited Best of the Web column on March 31, “OK, Doomer,” with his observations about the recent White House teleconference of President Biden’s COVID-19 team on Monday, March 29.  His reaction undoubtedly reflected the feelings of millions of American.  Freeman took to task the government’s blind faithfulness to lockdowns while ignoring the enormous damage it has done to the citizenry both economically and spiritually along with a “paucity of evidence demonstrating their effectiveness.”

Mr. Freeman said that while he understands that infections disease specialists focus on their specialty, there must be a reckoning with the immense societal harm the lockdowns have done, from adding trillions of dollars of more debt, to a 29 percent surge in commercial bankruptcy, to the rising detrimental aftereffects of people who delayed getting care to address non-Covid illnesses, to children missing a year’s worth of in-school learning, to increased self-harm by teenagers.  He said, “Outside government, doctors generally understand they have a duty to first do no harm.  Government doctors also have a basic responsibility to ensure that their public health proposals yield net benefits for society, and do not focus on one risk while ignoring all others.”

When one watches the briefing, it is clear that it would go quickly downhill when Senior Advisor to COVID-19 Response Coordinator Andy Slavitt said, “The cases of COVID-19 are once again on the rise, Dr. Walensky will highlight the public health consequences and strong public health recommendations for the next few weeks.”  Freeman wrote, “government disease experts Dr. Anthony Fauci and Dr. Rochelle Walensky reasonably and responsibly urged Americans to get vaccinated and to take care in avoiding infection.  But they also went beyond reasonable admonitions, fearfully encouraging continued restrictions by state governments without even addressing the pros and cons, as if lockdowns have been proven to work and have no negative impact on public health” and that, “like so many of the government responses of the past year, it was dedicated to the fear of Covid transmission and not to the general question of public health.”

He wrote, “Dr. Walensky set the tone early in the discussion by saying, ‘I’m going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom’” and “Dr. Fauci made his case for ‘why we cannot pull back on our mitigation efforts’” and “then it was back to Dr. Walensky for another restrictionist pitch:  ‘I think we are seeing that many of these states are opening up at levels that we wouldn’t necessarily recommend.  I am working with the governors.  I will be speaking with them tomorrow to try and buckle down on trying to refrain from opening up too fast, you know, in the context of the fact that we’re scaling up these vaccines.’”  Freeman noted that “Dr. Walensky again promised in her communication with governors ‘to try and reinforce the need for these — for current restrictions to not open up.’”

Mr. Freeman pointed out what many people have wondered during the past year.  He wrote, “Yet what exactly is the scientific case against reopening and relying on individual judgment?  To date, the two U.S. states with the highest total per capita Covid death tolls – New Jersey and New York – are governed by two of the most aggressive closers of activity and opportunity.  You will also find the lockdowners among the states with high unemployment rates.”

Because Mr. Freeman believes “government doctors must understand the consequences to their recommendations,” he quoted an article from Ari Joffe, M.D., a pediatrician at the University of Alberta, which was in the February 26 Frontiers in Public Health.  It is worth requoting here:

“The lockdowns implemented in the name of public health entailed trade-offs that were not adequately considered.  Lockdowns may prevent some COVID-19 deaths by flattening the curve of cases and preventing stress on hospitals.  At the same time, lockdowns cause severe adverse effects for many millions of people, disproportionately for those already disadvantaged among us.  The collateral damage included severe losses to current and future wellbeing from unemployment, poverty, food insecurity, interrupted preventive, diagnostic, and therapeutic healthcare, interrupted education, loneliness and deterioration of mental health, and intimate partner violence.  The economic recession has been framed as the economy vs. saving lives from COVID-19, but this is a false dichotomy.  The economic recession, through austerity in government spending on the social determinants of health, can be expected to cause far more loss of life and wellbeing over the long-run than COVID-19 can.  We must open up society to save many more lives than we can by attempting to avoid every case (or even most cases) of COVID-19.  It is past time to take an effortful pause, calibrate our response to the true risk, make rational cost-benefit analyses of the trade-offs, and end the lockdown groupthink.”

It is important to point out that the government officials who made the weighty decisions that have forced businesses to shut down, which led to high unemployment, prevented people from socializing, and children receiving a meaningful education did not have to worry about getting their paycheck, have likely never been unemployed for several months, or struggled to buy food or pay their bills.

Mr. Freeman noted that Dr. Joffe discussed one cost-benefit analysis of the response to Covid-19 and found that “lockdowns are far more harmful to public health (at least 5–10 times so in terms of wellbeing years) than COVID-19 can be.”  Freeman asked, “Is that the correct range?  Let research continue and let the debate continue.  Government doctors who have been entrusted with enormous power should engage in this debate instead of ignoring it and pretending their guidance is cost-free.”  Citizens Against Government Waste agrees and hopes future events with President Biden’s team are more positive and uplifting.

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