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Should we get rid of the COVID-19 lockdowns in California? '

Ed Walsh

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Vaccination site at San Francisco's Moscone Center. Photo by Ed Walsh

Are Calforinia's COVID lockdowns doing more harm than good? Do states with strict lockdowns do better than states without similar measures?

According to National Public Radio, Florida is doing better than California despite the far less restrictive COVID mandates in Florida. Florida's most recent 7-day daily average death toll was 120. In California it was 391. California's population is a little less double the population of Florida but COVID deaths in Calfiornia are more than three times as high.

Many recall the early days of the pandemic with surging cases in Floirda. But overall, the COVID-19 per capita death rate per 100,000 people is only a little higher in Florida 146 versus135 but that difference may be in large part explained by Florida's larger elderly population. The average age in Florida is 42 but in California it is 36. Florida's most recent 7-day daily average death toll was 120. In California it was 391 If the current rate of COVID deaths in Calfornia continues, the state will surpass Florida in deaths despite the state's younger demographic.

At the start of the panbdemic last year, the lockdowns were justified as needed to keep hospitals from being overwhelmed.

"Yes, it is completely unjustified (with all of the collateral damage of it) to keep lockdown based on cases instead of hospitalizations/deaths which are marker of why we got into trouble with this virus to begin with - indeed, once virus defanged with vaccines we are done," Tweeted University of California San Francisco infectious disease doctor Monica Gandi on Friday.

By collateral damage, Dr. Gandi was referring to the negative impacts of the lockdowns on the economy and that resultant impact on mental health. In a detailed study last year, the Oakland-based Well Being Trust and the Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary Care. preducted as many as 75,000 deaths from suicide and drug and alcohol abuse.

“Undeniably policymakers must place a large focus on mitigating the effects of COVID. However, if the country continues to ignore the collateral damage—specifically our nation’s mental health—we will not come out of this stronger,” said Benjamin F. Miller, PsyD, chief strategy officer, WBT. “If we work to put in place healthy community conditions, good healthcare coverage, and inclusive policies, we can improve mental health and well-being. With all the other COVID-related investments, it’s time for the federal government to fully support a framework for excellence in mental health and well-being and invest in mental health now.”

Governor Newsom has been critical of Stanford University's liberatarian-leaning Hoover Institution for suggesting that the lockdowns may be doing more harm than good.

Hoover Senior Fellow and former President Donald Trump advisor Dr. Scott Atlas told FOX's Sean Hannity last month, "I think this is a question that Americans have to ask, which is what is the endpoint here? Because the endpoint is supposed to be living a normal life, and that does not mean, after vaccinations and after as Dr. [Martin Adel] Makary, Johns Hopkins school of public health pointed out, there's a large number, in fact, probably ten times the number of documented cases of Americans who actually have the infection, so we are talking about a huge percentage of people that have immunity from either the infection and now the vaccine.

"The point is to stop people from dying and lead a normal life," he added. "The point is to not be fearful for the rest of our lives about a what-if scenario, what if there is a new variant, what if there are new pandemics? This is the point."

Supporters of the lockdowns point to the higer COVID numbers in Texas and suggest that lifting the lockdowns is dangerous.

John Swartzberg, an infectious disease expert at UC Berkeley, told the San Francisco Chronicle, “We are at a critical point of this pandemic. If we make the same mistake we have made with the two previous surges ... we will likely see the same results."

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