Horowitz: Moving goalposts: Oregon governor now demanding COVID-19 cases drop BELOW flu levels to reopen

· May 7, 2020  
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Oregon lockdown protests
Terray Sylvester | Getty Images

If you think the coronavirus fascism will die with the flattening of the coronavirus curve, I have a wet market to sell you in Wuhan.

It’s becoming abundantly clear that the lockdown was not a temporary, unprecedented strategy to flatten the curve, but is a pretext to use a dramatically low threshold of risk to continue crushing liberty, the economy, and releasing criminals from prison. The tyrannical governors are essentially saying that in order to end any lockdown and even move towards targeted mitigation, we must test everyone every day before they are allowed to breathe, that there must be almost no cases of COVID-19 around (even if there are few deaths outside nursing homes), and that we must contact-trace and monitor society with a police state even after the virus has already reached tens of millions of people.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown announced this week that each county must submit a plan to reopen and must also show that its COVID-19 illnesses are less than the historic average of flu cases seen at this time of year.

This is a state that has just 115 deaths, 60% of which have been in senior living homes. Most of the recent deaths have been in nursing homes and similar facilities. Overall, 81% of all deaths were people with serious underlying conditions. We are literally talking about a handful of people outside nursing homes dying in the entire state, which by itself demonstrates that this has a very low fatality rate for most people, yet the governor is focused on the number of overall cases, which is enormous.

So now the goalposts have moved, from flattening the curve of hospitalizations to flattening the total cases and then to bringing them below flu levels.

Many governors are extending the lockdowns despite nearly all the recent deaths occurring in nursing homes. Governor Phil Murphy of New Jersey made it clear that the lockdown has no timeline “whether you like it or not.”

This demonstrates moving forward that the threshold for pushing these lockdowns will be remarkably low, with no understanding of or regard for the collateral damage. This will not be once-in-a-millennium phenomenon. Now that this epidemic, several weeks after the peak, is more or less confined to nursing homes and a few other vulnerable populations, it is on par, at this point, with many other epidemics that were barely noticed in the news, much less that caused a national shutdown.

But perhaps the biggest lie of the entire lockdown strategy is the premise that it has helped at all, especially as compared to commonsense mitigation, as opposed to doing nothing. Lockdowns and contact tracing only helped in countries that did it early on before the virus spread far and wide, and even most of the Asian countries didn’t shut down their economies, and some didn’t shut down the schools. Iceland, Israel, and Germany began their efforts very early, and the former two are small and homogenously healthy countries, as are most of the Nordic countries with good results. Plus, Israeli researchers now believe the lockdown was a mistake.

What America and most of the other large European countries did was the worst of all worlds. They did lockdown after the virus had already been spreading rapidly for weeks and even peaked in transmissions. It’s why one comprehensive study found “no evidence of any discontinuity in the growth rate, doubling time, and reproduction number trends” in lockdown countries in Europe. “Extrapolating pre-lockdown growth rate trends, we provide estimates of the death toll in the absence of any lockdown policies, and show that these strategies might not have saved any life in western Europe,” wrote the author.

One comprehensive study of Lombardy by Italian researchers of the first 5,830 laboratory-confirmed cases there found that the virus had already peaked in terms of transmissions and reproduction on February 20 – before any lockdown. The cake was already baked.

We are seeing the same thing in New York as Andrew Cuomo is “shocked” that most of the hospitalizations now are from people who already have been staying home. “If you notice, 18% of the people came from nursing homes, less than 1% came from jail or prison, 2% came from the homeless population, 2% from other congregate facilities, but 66% of the people were at home, which is shocking to us,” Cuomo said yesterday during his daily press conference.

“This is a surprise: Overwhelmingly, the people were at home,” he added. “We thought maybe they were taking public transportation, and we’ve taken special precautions on public transportation, but actually no, because these people were literally at home.”

You discovered reality, Sherlock!

What most of the European countries and America did was take a virus that had already been spreading to some degree for months, and earnestly for weeks, and locked everyone down together. Which is why most studies show family spread is the most common form of transmission.

As Dr. David Katz said during a Senate Homeland Security Committee remote hearing yesterday, “We may have closed the barn door after all of the horses were out.”

The only reason for a lockdown is if you are a poor country with not enough resources to handle the patients at once. While we were never overrun, we could have justified lockdown for a week or two to delay some of the hospitalizations. Other than that, no lives are saved in the long run at this late stage, and so many more are lost from the unfathomable and incalculable collateral damage.

Instead of a lockdown and testing the entire country, the contact tracing, virus testing, and restrictions must all be focused on nursing homes, where more than half the deaths have occurred and most of the new deaths are occurring. The rest of the population needs to follow a stratified risk assessment to determine the best way forward to achieve herd immunity.

It’s not that the governing elites don’t know this. They know exactly what they are doing. As Thomas Jefferson warned, “The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground.” Lockdowns are the perfect strategy to permanently change the relationship between the citizen and the government, because they accomplish nothing but perpetuate a need for themselves. As Dr. Katz said at yesterday’s hearing, “The problem with an interdiction strategy that starts and ends with flattening the curve is that it can never stop.” (2:49:35)

And that is exactly what so many in politics want.

Author: Daniel Horowitz

Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.