Stop Feeling: Look at the Numbers

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Saturday Night Live had a reoccurring sketch for years with Jane Curtin putting forth a reasonable and levelheaded argument and then Dan Akroyd, instead of debating, would simply say, “Jane, you ignorant slut.”

It was funny on a comedy show because one assumed that Akroyd didn’t have the facts to argue and effectively ended the exchange with name calling.

This editor was recently called an “ignorant slut,” because I mentioned an August 19, Wall Street Journal piece (“Fauci and Walensky Double Down on Failure”) that examined the evidence of lockdowns and mask mandates that was based on (“Johns Hopkins working paper Says Covid-19 Lockdowns Not Worth It, Sparks Fierce Debate.”)

The John Hopkins paper, which can be found online, notes: “While this meta-analysis concludes that lockdowns have had little to no public health effects, they have imposed enormous economic and social costs where they have been adopted,” the three economists who wrote the paper concluded. “In consequence, lockdown policies are ill-founded and should be rejected as a pandemic policy instrument.”

I was told I was ignorant because I ignored the data.

At the beginning of Covid, this editor followed the World Health Tracker that reported deaths across the world.

In every country, the statistics showed that the people who were most likely to succumb to Covid 19 were over 85 years of age or had a co-morbidity. That never changed.

David Grabowski of the Harvard Medical School said in a December 2021, PBS News Hour said, “The individuals making up the bulk of the deaths among older adults are the those oldest old. So, they’re individuals ages 85 and older. They’re individuals with comorbidities, cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes. They are also typically individuals living in nursing homes.”

Additionally, several studies showed that “Obesity was a risk factor for hospitalization and death, particularly among adults ages younger than 65.” (https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/70/wr/mm7010e4.htm)

The daily death rate by age was available as a statistic.

Since this editor was not in the categories most seriously affected by Covid, I made the choice to travel during California’s lockdown. I flew to South Dakota and Wyoming several times, where the shutdowns had been brief. The planes were empty and the filtration system exceptional. Masks were not always required; businesses were open as were schools.

How did those stats compare to Florida and California for death rates? (September 5 death counts were used.)

Wyoming had 1,881 Covid deaths. Population: 581,348. About .3 percent of the population died from Covid.

South Dakota had 2,993 Covid deaths. About .34 of the population died from Covid. Population: 879,336.

Florida had 80,027 Covid deaths or about .37 percent of the population died from Covid. Population: 21.22 million.

California, 94,973 deaths 39.35 million people, which meant about .24 percent died from Covid.

By closing everything down California had a .13 better outcome than Florida and .06 better than Wyoming. That statistic doesn’t analyze the financial or mental health damage that might have been afflicted on its population.

In the analysis in the Wall Street Journal Tierney wrote,

“U.S. States with more restrictive policies fared no better, on average, than states with less-restrictive policies. There’s still no convincing evidence that masks provided any significant benefits. When case rates through the pandemic are plotted on a graph, the trajectory in states with mask mandates is virtually identical to the trajectory in states without mandates. (The states without mandates actually had slight fewer Covid deaths per capita.) International comparisons yield similar results.”

“Florida and Sweden were accused of deadly folly for keeping schools and businesses open without masks, but their polices have been vindicated. In Florida, the cumulative age-adjusted rate of Covid mortality is below the national average, the rate of excess mortality is lower than in California, which endured one of the nation’s strictest lockdowns and worst spikes in unemployment.”

CTN compared Sweden and L.A. County statistics:

Sweden: Population is 10.35 million people. About 19,904 died from Covid, about a.19 percent rate.

L.A. County has about 10.04 million people. About 33, 171 about a .33 percent rate of deaths.

Beaches were closed during the Covid Pandemic.

SCHOOL CHILDREN:

United States: McKinsey & Company released a July 2021 report: “the impact of the pandemic on K–12 student learning was significant, leaving students on average five months behind in mathematics and four months behind in reading by the end of the school year.

“The pandemic widened preexisting opportunity and achievement gaps, hitting historically disadvantaged students hardest. And the crisis had an impact on not just academics but also the broader health and well-being of students, with more than 35 percent of parents very or extremely concerned about their children’s mental health.”

Sweden: in a ScienceDirect International Journal of Education Research 2022 Abstract reported: 1. No COVID-19 related learning loss in reading in Swedish primary school students. 2)The proportion of students with weak reading skills did not increase during the pandemic, and 3) Students from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds were not especially affected.

Anders Tegnell was Sweden’s head epidemiologist. He worked in Zaire during the 1995 Ebola epidemic, and then served as an expert on infectious diseases for the European Union before being hired by the Swedish public-health agency in 2013. The Swedish health agency communicated to the public that there was insufficient evidence that masks prevent transmissions, that they are often used incorrectly, and that they could be used as an excuse not to distance properly, which would be harmful.

Barbara Ferrer, was the director of L.A. County Department of Public Health. In May 2020, Ferrer announced that stay at home orders would gradually be relaxed under a five-step plan. The L.A. Times reported, “When beaches reopen this week, how people can use the sand will look different. Face coverings will be required when not in the water, and sunbathing won’t be allowed. Only active recreation — surfing, running, walking and swimming — will be permitted. Coolers, chairs, umbrellas and any of the other accessories that typically dot the shoreline should be left at home.”

All  outdoor basketball hoops had fencing on them to prevent people from shooting baskets in Los Angeles county. The thought was to keep people inside instead of exercising.

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6 Responses to Stop Feeling: Look at the Numbers

  1. Wharfplank says:

    Statists had the Sweden/Italy stats as soon as 5/20. Search “Coronavirus deaths by age group Seden” then same for Italy . On a laptop desktop the graphs are identical.

  2. Patty Adelmann says:

    Very nice article, Sue. I really admire your courage to keep telling the truth as you see it, and as the facts dictate. In 2021, my husband and I moved to Florida and we never looked back. We moved even though the LA weather is ideal and the Pacific Palisades is a nice place to live. For me, I could not abide looking at young children in strollers wearing masks; once we knew that masks were ineffective and children were at no real risk, this seemed like child abuse to me. And after the initial few weeks of Covid – when we didn’t know anything – community lock-down was abusive. Good luck to you all. I love your newsletter.

  3. andrew cohen says:

    Remember the Fed Ex commercial when it said When It Absolutely, Positively Has To Be There Overnight. You wrote that they were presented w options. Was it presented that the 2 day deal was a guarantee? Im sure the clerk said that fc would probably be there in four days but everyone knows that it’s a crapshoot It all depends on how important the packages delivery date was. But you name call, call the PO stupid but being called an ignorant slut is abhorrent. You bury yourself in the Covid article . You quote ECONOMISTS as the experts on a medical issue. Per usual you are lazy, sloppy and biased w your facts. You cherry pick from the web info that fits your preferred narrative, which are all opinions. Seniors, obese and comorbidity people don’t live by themselves, I’m shocked that their deaths didn’t bother you Please find an article that says that science and medicine are exact, I just had knee surgery and I want to know the exact date I’ll be healed. You’re not ignorant, just don’t let facts interfere w a good negative story.

  4. Adam Wolman says:

    I know you feel strongly about this subject, and I respect your opinions. I hope your passion won’t color your thinking about whether to publish the following comment.

    Reading “Johns Hopkins working paper Says Covid-19 Lockdowns Not Worth It, Sparks Fierce Debate” was intriguing, so I took to Google (DuckDuckGo, actually) to find the cited paper. While I found a host of right-wing sites quoting the paper, I also found this in USA Today:

    “Fact check: Working paper isn’t proof COVID-19 restrictions don’t work, experts say” [https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2022/02/18/fact-check-working-paper-isnt-proof-lockdown-dont-work-experts-say/6749032001/], was USA Today’s headline, under which is a thoroughgoing article debunking the claims of the Johns Hopkins working paper. Key takeaways:

    “[T]his [Johns Hopkins] paper is not nearly as authoritative as many discussing it purport, as it was not peer-reviewed and doesn’t represent an expert consensus on the subject of lockdowns.

    “Many public health experts have criticized the methodology and conclusions of the paper, which was conducted by economists rather than researchers with more extensive training in the complex dynamics at play in a pandemic. Other peer-reviewed papers have concluded lockdowns are an effective pandemic countermeasure.

    It’s also inaccurate to attribute the report to Johns Hopkins, which did not endorse the paper.[…]

    To reach their conclusion that ‘lockdowns’ had a small effect on mortality, the authors redefined the term ‘lockdown’ and disregarded many peer-reviewed studies.[…]

    *Research indicates lockdowns save lives*

    Social media users who shared the posts claimed the working paper is proof that lockdowns haven’t been effective against COVID-19. But experts say that, while it’s difficult to assess the effect of lockdowns, research indicates they can prevent COVID-19 deaths.

    A peer-reviewed study on lockdowns published in the journal Nature in June 2020 found that lockdowns prevented 3.1 million deaths across 11 different European countries. Another study published in the British Medical Journal estimated that lockdowns and COVID-19 restrictions reduced annual mortality by 3%-6% simply by slowing the spread of influenza.”

  5. Lynn Hylen says:

    I trust economists over public health bureaucrats who couldn’t cut it in medical school any day. At least economists know how to analyze data and numbers. Sue, I apologize on behalf of andrew cohen. I vehemently disagree that your reporting is ever “lazy, sloppy and biased with your facts,” or that the deaths of senior citizens don’t bother you. How pathetic that the way he chooses to disagree with you is with personal attacks on your character. Says a lot about him.

  6. Courtney Macker says:

    Excellent summary. Thank you Sue!

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