Four months ago, I wrote a column titled "The Worldwide Lockdown May Be the Greatest Mistake in History." I explained that "'mistake' and 'evil' are not synonyms. The lockdown is a mistake; the Holocaust, slavery, communism, fascism, etc., were evils. Massive mistakes are made by arrogant fools; massive evils are committed by evil people."
Regarding the economic catastrophe in America and around the world -- especially among the world's poor who are dependent upon America and other first-world countries for their income through exports and tourism -- I wrote, "It is panic and hysteria, not the coronavirus, that created this catastrophe."
Unfortunately, I was right.
The world should have followed Sweden's example. That country never locked down and has even kept children under 16 in school the entire time. As Reuters reported on July 15, the number of Swedish children between 1 and 19 years of age who have died of COVID-19 is zero. And the percentage of children who contracted the illness was the exact same in Sweden as it was in Finland, which locked down its schools.
As regards teachers, Sweden's Public Health Agency reported that "a comparison of the incidence of COVID-19 in different professions suggested no increased risk for teachers." Nevertheless, with few exceptions, teachers in Los Angeles and elsewhere refuse to enter a classroom that has students in it.
Their disdain for their profession has been superseded only by that of the Los Angeles teachers union, which announced that teachers will not resume teaching until the police are defunded.
People who defend lockdowns and closing schools point out that Sweden has the eighth-highest death rate per million in the Western world. But, needless to say, this has no bearing at all on the issue of whether Sweden was right to keep schools open or whether our country was wrong to close them, let alone keep them closed now. The overwhelming majority of deaths from COVID-19 in Sweden were among people over 70 years of age, and most of those were people over 80 and with compromised immune systems.
Reuters reported that three separate studies, including one by UNICEF, "showed that Swedish children fared better than children in other countries during the pandemic, both in terms of education and mental health."
For more than a month, Sweden has had almost no deaths from COVID-19 while the entire society remains open and almost no one wears masks. (In Holland, too, almost no one wears masks.) For all intents and purposes, the virus is over in Sweden.
I live in California, a state governed by that most dangerous of leaders: a fool with unlimited power. Despite the fact that California ranks 28th among the 50 states in deaths per million, Gov. Gavin Newsom has destroyed and continues to destroy tens of thousands of small businesses and untold numbers of livelihoods. His continuing to forbid -- a half-year after the onset of the pandemic -- indoor dining in restaurants is leading to a projected permanent closure of approximately 1 in every 3 restaurants in the state. The same catastrophic destruction will likely affect retail businesses and services such as hair and nail salons. But all this human tragedy -- not to mention increased depression and suicides among the young and increased abuse of children and partners -- means nothing to Newsom, to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti or to the Los Angeles Times, whose editors and columnists continue to advocate for the lockdown while they receive their salaries.
Why can people eat with no mask in an airplane -- inches, not six feet, from strangers -- but cannot eat in a California restaurant, which is so much bigger than the inside of an airplane, while sitting six feet from others? Because Newsom ordered it, the Los Angeles Times supports it and, like sheep, Californians have accepted it.
According to the California Association of Museums, "Museums are losing over $22 million a day due to the statewide quarantine. As of August 1, 2020, California museums have lost more than $2.9 billion in revenue. Museums have a $6.55 billion financial impact on California's economy, support 80,722 jobs, and generated $492 million in tax revenues for the State of California in 2017 and over $1 billion in federal taxes."
And the American Alliance of Museums issued results from a survey on July 22, 2020, that warned 1 out of every 3 museums may shutter forever as funding sources and financial reserves run dry.
On Aug. 3, The Wall Street Journal wrote, "In March ... There was broad public support for the prudent goals of preventing hospitals from being overwhelmed and buying scientists time to develop therapies." But the left -- the media and Democratic governors and mayors -- immediately moved the goal posts to "bending the curve" and "saving one life," enabling them to get away with destroying lives and livelihoods.
I conclude with the words of a Swedish medical doctor, Sebastian Rushworth:
"Covid is over in Sweden. People have gone back to their normal lives and barely anyone is getting infected any more. I am willing to bet that the countries that have shut down completely will see rates spike when they open up. If that is the case, then there won't have been any point in shutting down in the first place ... Shutting down completely in order to decrease the total number of deaths only makes sense if you are willing to stay shut down until a vaccine is available. That could take years. No country is willing to wait that long."
The lockdown is a crime. But even more upsetting is that it is supported by so many Americans. This country is unrecognizable to those of us who lived through the 1968-1970 pandemic, which killed, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 100,000 Americans -- the 2020 equivalent of 170,000 Americans. Nothing shut down. Not one mask was worn.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced Tuesday that he will lift the state’s ban on visiting nursing homes that has cut off vulnerable seniors from family since mid-March over fears of spreading the new coronavirus.
With his voice cracking at times, he wondered aloud if his actions might have contributed to suffering in his state as he made his announcement during a round table in Jacksonville.
“Part of having a healthy society is understanding that human beings seek affection," DeSantis said. “Many of the folks understand that they have loved ones who are in the last stage of their life. They’re not demanding a medical miracle. They’re not having unrealistic expectations. They just would like to be able to say goodbye or to hug somebody."
The visibly emotional governor paused to collect himself, and silence filled the room for about 20 seconds.
DeSantis said he would lift the ban on visitations in an executive order later Tuesday, following recommendations from a nursing home task force.
The governor's order is expected to allow family members to visit their loved ones no more than two at a time, wearing protective gear including masks. Facilities would need to go 14 days without any new cases of COVID-19 among staff or residents to allow the visits. Children under the age of 18 are not yet allowed.
The task force appointed by the governor recommended a lengthy set of rules last week, giving wide leeway for wary nursing homes on how to implement them. Critics were quick to express concern over what will likely be a patchwork approach, varying greatly among facilities statewide.
South Carolina took a similar step Tuesday, with Gov. Henry McMaster announcing visitations at nursing homes could resume after nearly six months, but only outdoors and with no hugs or kisses.
“As expected, the months of separation and isolation have caused loneliness, depression, stress, anxiety among the residents. I worry about them, like you do, every day,” McMaster said in Columbia.
In Florida, nearly two-thirds of facilities have not had new cases since Aug. 11, said Mary Mayhew, who led the task force and heads the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration.
The biggest sticking point was over physical contact, with gut-wrenching debates between the task force’s health experts and an advocate for families. The task force ultimately recommended that essential caregivers be allowed to touch and hug loved ones. But some members, including state Surgeon General Dr. Scott Rivkees, repeatedly expressed grave concerns during task force meetings.
“The more people that are coming in, that really increases the risk,” Rivkees said last week.
Task force member Mary Daniel pleaded on behalf of hugs for residents, who she said are dying from loneliness. Daniel took a part-time job as a dishwasher just to be allowed to visit her husband, who has Alzheimer’s.
“I’m turning in my two weeks' notice today. I’m not going to be a dishwasher anymore. I’m going back to being just a wife,” Daniel said Tuesday. She represents the group Caregivers for Compromise Because Isolation Kills Too.
All parties agreed on the terrible toll isolation has taken on residents, who have now gone almost six months without seeing loved ones.
Some facilities expressed concerns about the continued danger of exposing vulnerable residents to the virus while new cases remain high — though trending downward for several weeks — and without more widespread testing and stricter distancing rules.
“I am concerned that the state will throw open the doors to our communities and then walk away. Suddenly you will see a war develop between providers and families as we try to do what is best for residents and staff,” said Jay Solomon, CEO of Aviva senior home in Sarasota.
It’s unclear how many of the state’s more than 4,000 nursing homes, assisted living facilities and group homes will choose to open to visitors in any capacity.
The head of Florida Health Care Association, which represent 82% of the nursing homes in Florida, said many facilities told him they are very wary about allowing visitors, while others are eager to do so.
Brian Lee, head of Families for Better Care, an advocacy group for nursing home residents, said Florida's recommendations are “woefully inadequate.”
“Governor DeSantis’ panel failed to recommend an at-the-door, rapid testing protocol that would identify asymptomatic COVID carriers before entering a nursing home,” he wrote in an email.
Mayhew said Tuesday that she felt confident visitors would adhere to the rules knowing the stakes were high.
“Human touch is absolutely critical,” said Mayhew, whose 87-year-old mother has been living with her for several months during the pandemic. “I understood how much my mother craved the interaction. No one should be going this long without a hug...”
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered state health agencies to cut ties with Quest Diagnostics, one of the country’s largest labs, after the company failed to report nearly 75,000 coronavirus tests in a timely manner, according to the state’s department of health.
The bulk of the 75,000 previously unreported tests are two-weeks old with some dating back as many as five months, the department of health said. The Department of Health said Quest informed everyone who tested positive of their results, despite the backlog in reporting onward to the state.
The governor’s office did not learn of the backlog in test results until Monday, the Department of Health said.
“The law requires all COVID-19 results to be reported to DOH in a timely manner. To drop this much unusable and stale data is irresponsible,” DeSantis said in a statement. “I believe that Quest has abdicated their ability to perform a testing function in Florida that the people can be confident in. As such I am directing all executive agencies to sever their COVID-19 testing relationships with Quest effective immediately.”
Jason Mahon, spokesman for the Florida Division of Emergency Management, said Quest was processed Covid-19 tests at a “limited number” of state-supported testing sites and will no longer be used at them.
“Whenever a lab does not fulfill its obligations to provide testing results with an acceptable turnaround time, or report those results to the state, the Division stops doing business with that lab,” he said in a statement to CNBC. He added that he has “no concerns” about transitioning to different labs.
Representatives of Quest did not immediately return CNBC’s request for comment. Shares of Quest traded more than 2% lower in midday trading.
The reporting backlog, the Department of Health said, is impacting the state’s data. Without including the backlog, Florida reported 3,773 new cases on Monday and 5.9% of all tests conducted came back positive, the state said. Including the backlog, the percent of tests that came back positive rose to 6.8% and the total number of new cases reported on Monday increased to 7,643, according to the state.
While new kinds of tests have come onto the market, alleviating the burden on commercial labs like those operated by Quest, the senators expressed concern that as flu season settles in and the same labs work double-time to process tests for both flu and Covid-19, it “may again strain labs’ ability to perform and deliver test results in a timely manner.”