On March 24, I wrote a column asking when the coronavirus actually began and why it mattered. The article got 1.4 million hits presumably because it touched on the core assumption that has been driving this lockdown – that somehow, we could arrest a virus before it spread without regard for the fact that it had already spread far and wide. Yesterday, Ohio officials revealed new evidence that this virus was already spreading in January, once again proving that any effort to push lockdowns this late in the game is moot.
Based on new antibody testing, Ohio Department of Health Director Dr. Amy Acton announced Monday that her department has discovered six cases of the virus in five different counties that began in January. Based on calculations of symptoms and transmissions, they have estimated that the cases began on Jan. 7 and Jan. 26 in Miami County, Jan. 13 in Montgomery, Jan. 18 in Richland, Jan. 20 in Summit, and Jan. 27 in Warren.
Other states have already identified more cases from much earlier than previously thought, but Ohio’s case in January 7 would be the earliest known case in the country so far. It makes sense that now that antibody testing is becoming more widespread, we are discovering that many more people had this virus earlier and didn’t even realize it. This is why those pushing swab tests and contact tracing don’t seem to be in a rush for antibody tests, and many are even panning them.
We also know that many more people who have contracted this virus have never developed symptoms. The fact that this has spread so much for so long demonstrates the folly in the entire premise of a lockdown.
The CDC has already written years ago regarding mitigating the spread of flu that “the effectiveness of pandemic mitigation strategies will erode rapidly as the cumulative illness rate prior to implementation climbs above 1 percent of the population in an affected area.” The massive asymptomatic spread for months ensured we reached that threshold before we knew what hit us.
There is nothing unique about Ohio, and this revelation is likely just the tip of the iceberg in every state. The implication of this reality is that we were going about our lives with absolutely no changes for weeks, if not months, while this had already spread, and perhaps some of those presumed to have been hospitalized with the flu and pneumonia were really positive for COVID-19. Certainly, in places like New York City, there is something unique that happened in early March (likely set in motion in February) to spawn an unprecedented number of sick patients in the hospitals. But in many other states, the spike was not that much different from what we saw in the winter.
In February, the Dayton Daily News reported, “Nearly 1,200 Ohioans were hospitalized from complications to the flu from Feb. 8 to Feb. 15” and that “some doctors said it has been the worst year they have seen in a decade.” One doctor said that the Miami valley was “particularly hard-hit in February. This is one area where we now know there were cases percolating in January. Other news outlets noted a 36% increase in “flu” hospitalizations during the last week of January.
We also know that the disease was clearly in France in December, and Swedish officials believe it might have been in their country as far back as November from travelers to and from Wuhan. Remember, the U.S. has a lot more travel from China than those countries, and we have an embassy in Wuhan.
Thus, the entire premise of flattening a curve and stopping a spread on a highly transmissible and often asymptomatic virus was always a lie, given the timing of our government’s response. Yet, time and again, Dr. Fauci and the Republican and Democrat senators at today’s hearing spoke as if they have the ability to mitigate this virus and that somehow we need to do more to shut down our lives for the remainder of this year than we did while it was spreading in January and February. At some point we must ask: Is anyone in government really interested in getting to the bottom of the science about this virus, or is the lockdown an end in itself?
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.