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Some Covid Links

Joel Zinberg explains that “[w]ithout mandates or lockdowns, Florida better managed COVID than New York.” Three slices:

When the final history of the COVID-19 pandemic is written it will likely conclude that most of the non-pharmaceutical public health measures taken to combat the disease — that is, mask mandates and lockdowns — were largely ineffective.

The unimportance of public mitigation measures can be illustrated by comparing outcomes in states that imposed strict mitigation measures versus states, such as Florida, that adopted a minimalist approach.

Florida, New York, California and Illinois are all large states with multiple urban areas. But while Florida has been the poster child for a hands-off approach by government, the latter three states imposed multiple intrusive measures over long periods of time.

Florida, for example, recommended but did not require face coverings. While several large counties imposed their own mandates, Governor Ron DeSantis issued an executive order barring governments and school districts from imposing them last May.


Far and away the most important factor in determining the severity of COVID-19 illness is age. There is an exponential relationship between age and COVID-19’s infection fatality rate. The estimated IFR is very low for children and younger adults (0.002% at age 10; 0.01% at age 25), increases to 0.4% by age 55, and then soars with advanced age (1.4% at age 65; 4.6% at age 75; and 15% at age 85).

Florida has the second-highest percentage of population 65 and older (21.3%) in the nation. In contrast, New York ranks 25th among the states in the percentage of population 65 and older (17.4%), Illinois is 35th (16.6%), and California is 45th (15.2%).

Remarkably, despite its elderly population and laissez-faire approach, Florida has only the 33rd highest age-adjusted COVID-19 death rate per 100,000 population (251) among the states. That puts it in the same ballpark as mandate heavy Illinois (ranked 32 with 255 deaths/100,000) and California (ranked 38; 234) and well below New York (ranked 7th highest; 334).


From early in the pandemic the media vilified Florida Governor DeSantis as irresponsible and dangerous. Some labeled him “DeathSantis.” But DeSantis’s approach proved to be right. The mitigation measures imposed in other, largely blue, states did little to improve health outcomes. And Florida was better able to preserve its economic health than most other states.

As COVID cases, hospitalizations and deaths continue to plummet around the country, hold-out public health officials and politicians should strongly consider mimicking the COVID policies of that “Florida Man.”

Here’s a headline to a report in the Wall Street Journal:

Rise in Non-Covid-19 Deaths Hits Life Insurers
Companies believe lack of medical treatment during pandemic has contributed to deaths from other causes

And here are the report’s opening lines:

U.S. life insurers, as expected, made a large number of Covid-19 death-benefit payouts last year. More surprisingly, many saw a jump in other death claims, too.

Industry executives and actuaries believe many of these other fatalities are tied to delays in medical care as a result of lockdowns in 2020, and then, later, people’s fears of seeking out treatment and trouble lining up appointments.

Wall Street Journal columnist James Freeman follows up on the above. Two slices:

Today brings still more evidence of what any reasonable person should have guessed in early March 2020. Imposing wrenching changes on a society without calm consideration of costs and benefits is bound to end in catastrophe. Unfortunately since 2020 not many reasonable people have been running America’s public health bureaucracies. And so the coronavirus panic led to fear-inducing measures targeting just one of the many threats to human health, with hardly a thought for the collateral damage or even the unlikelihood that business lockdowns and school closures could somehow manage to stop the virus. (They didn’t.)

Accounting for the costs of turning American society upside down continues today. Along comes a series of reports from companies that have been paying for some of the collateral damage. The Journal’s Leslie Scism reports:

U.S. life insurers, as expected, made a large number of Covid-19 death-benefit payouts last year. More surprisingly, many saw a jump in other death claims, too.Industry executives and actuaries believe many of these other fatalities are tied to delays in medical care as a result of lockdowns in 2020, and then, later, people’s fears of seeking out treatment and trouble lining up appointments.Some insurers see continued high levels of these deaths for some time, even if Covid-19 deaths decline this year.


Stanford School of Medicine professor Dr. Jay Bhattacharya tweets today about the [New York] Times report:

This @nytimes story on @FLSurgeonGen is premised on statistical misinformation. Any comparison of covid death rates by state needs to be adjusted at least for age.

On that basis, Florida’s Covid mortality results look even better. And what about an accounting of lockdown harms in the heavily-regulated jurisdictions? Don’t expect to find one in the Times account.

Jacob Sullum says this about flight-attendants’ unions: “The unions’ support for hygiene theater is of a piece with their support for security theater.” A slice:

The rationale for the mask mandate was never very strong, since the conditions on airplanes are not conducive to virus transmission. The ventilation systems on commercial aircraft, which mix outdoor air with air recycled through HEPA filters and limit air flow between rows, help explain why there were few outbreaks associated with commercial flights even before vaccines were available.

“The risk of contracting COVID-19 during air travel is low,” an October 2020 article in The Journal of the American Medical Association noted. “Despite substantial numbers of travelers, the number of suspected and confirmed cases of in-flight COVID-19 transmission between passengers around the world appears small.” Sebastian Hoehl, a researcher at the Institute for Medical Virology at Goethe University Frankfurt in Germany, concurred in an interview with Scientific American the following month, saying “an airplane cabin is probably one of the most secure conditions you can be in.”

Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly reiterated this point during a Senate hearing in December. “I think the case is very strong that masks don’t add much, if anything, in the air cabin environment,” he said. “It is very safe and very high quality compared to any other indoor setting.” American Airlines CEO Doug Parker agreed. “An aircraft is the safest place you can be,” he said. “It’s true of all of our aircraft—they all have the same HEPA filters and air flow.”

Given the availability of vaccines that dramatically reduce the risk of severe disease and N95 masks that protect people who wear them, the TSA rule is blatantly paternalistic. The people most at risk from COVID-19 are adults who decline to be vaccinated. The risk to children is infinitesimal even if they are not vaccinated—smaller than the risk of dying in a car crash if their parents decide to avoid mask hassles by driving instead of flying.

Mark Pulliam writes that “Australia and Canada are sad examples of the damage authoritarian policies can inflict on even democratic governments with a commitment to the rule of law if ’emergency powers’ are abused.” Another slice:

The CDC’s mask mandate for travelers using public transportation services or facilities was first issued in January 2021, in the form of an order from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the CDC. The order remains in effect indefinitely, until “modified or rescinded,” and is enforceable by fines and criminal penalties. The CDC declined to adopt the mask mandate as an administrative regulation, subject to public notice and comment, on the ground that “emergency action” was justified by the need to prevent the transmission and spread of COVID-19.

Douglas Murray decries “the tyranny of Trudeau.” (HT Jon Fortier) A slice:

Early in the corona era the historian David Starkey gave some thoughts on Covid. ‘We’ve got a Chinese virus,’ he said, ‘and we’ll finish up with a Chinese society.’ I remember at the time thinking the phrase neat, but doubtful. Fast forward a couple of years and the doubts have eroded. Although Britain seems to have avoided becoming a permanent Covid state (and is indeed one of the first societies to try leaping out of the Covid age), other parts of the West certainly do seem to be trying to meet the CCP more than halfway. Foremost among them is Justin Trudeau’s Canada.

There is no shortage of things going on in the world at the moment. But you know that the world is in an especially perilous place when even Canada has become interesting. The country that launched a thousand gags has never been known for its political earthquakes. But in recent weeks something has happened that deserves attention, however distracted we might otherwise be.

Over the past few months Trudeau has tried to bring in vaccine mandates for Canadian citizens. In a country where people have been deprived of free movement for the best part of two years, Trudeau did not see the arrival of the mildest variant to date as a way out of this misery. Rather, he thought it a moment to double-down and make all Canadians do 100 per cent of what he wanted.

Among those who did not take this well were thousands of Canadian truckers. Many of these people have spent the past two years working away to keep Canada’s supply chains running. For a good while they were among the nation’s heroes. But then Justin insisted that even people in this most isolated of professions had to get double-jabbed, and if they didn’t they would be out of a job. Many of the nation’s truckers took umbrage. They descended on Ottawa in their thousands, protesting that the Prime Minister did not have the right to take away their livelihoods.

A grown-up leader could have used the opportunity to negotiate or ameliorate the public concerns. But Justin is not a grown-up leader. He is an obscenely over-promoted princeling man-child who decided he would deploy the weapon he has always used on his political enemies.

As far back as September he was dismissing anyone opposed to vaccine mandates as not merely anti-science but also racist and misogynist. He mulled in an interview: ‘They are a small group that occupy a loud space and a decision needs to be made — do we tolerate these people?’ It’s an interesting question to pose. Ordinarily in a democracy, you have to tolerate your fellow citizens. What are the alternatives? In recent weeks Justin has tried to show us.

As the convoy descended on Ottawa, the dauphin first fled the city, pretending that he had recently met somebody who had Covid and therefore must isolate. He then pretended that the peaceful protestors constituted a threat to his life. He made Richard II look like Hyperion. When a Jewish Conservative MP questioned his slander of the protestors, he retaliated that while the honourable lady and her party might be happy to stand with swastikas and confederate flags, he was not. The fact that this came from a man who spent most of his recent youth wearing blackface is a detail that should not detain us.

Unable to make any compromises with people he had decided were all Nazis, Justin decided to punish these ‘fascists’ by demonstrating the awesome force of the state. Despite having plenty of laws on the books to deal with peaceful protests, Trudeau brought in the nation’s emergency laws, intended only for use in wartime.

The WHO is a friend of tyrants everywhere. (HT Dan Klein)

Applause is due to Montana State University student Dylan Dean and that school’s Young Americans for Liberty chapter for resisting MSU’s absurd and pointless mask mandate.

Hooray for Iceland!

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