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The Left-wing lockdown

By BETSY MCCAUGHEY

Three months ago, America was told to trust public health experts. Never again. Most of them have revealed themselves to be left-wing ideologues cloaked in the mantle of science. On their advice, states slammed their economies shut, put 40 million people out of work, sent school kids home and pushed businesses into bankruptcy.

These public health experts hardly blinked at the economic loss these lockdowns caused. Anyone who even expressed these concerns was denounced for putting dollars ahead of lives.

Now, these same public health experts are doing a 180-degree turn, saying the threat of the virus is less important than big marches against racial injustice. Even though they admit the marches will lead to more infections. Hypocrites.

Public health academics from the University of Washington, which created the virus forecasting model widely used by governors and the President’s Task Force, are circulating a public letter declaring the marches a higher priority than containing the virus.

“This should not be confused with a permissive stance on all gatherings, particularly protests against stay-home orders,” the UW health experts add. Translation: No funerals for your loved ones, no congregating for causes of your own choosing. Only theirs.

This isn’t science. This is political advocacy.

Similarly, Jennifer Nuzzo, a Johns Hopkins epidemiologist, now claims the dangers of “systemic racism” exceed “the harms of the virus.” Sorry, professor, but that makes you a political pundit, not someone to call the shots on ending a pandemic.

Remember that most public health experts didn’t have to give up their paychecks during the lockdown.

Otherwise, they would have considered alternatives that spared most jobs and business failures. Vast swaths of the United States that had almost no infections were shut down, including upstate counties in New York.

Economists from the University of Chicago and Northwestern University have shown how a geographically targeted approach, even within New York City, could have lessened the economic toll by more than one-third and spared areas like Staten Island. If the virus resurges in the fall, that approach could allow 87% of city businesses to stay open.

In the scientific world, a drug is examined in clinical trials before it’s prescribed. But public health experts prescribed statewide lockdowns though they were untried and untested.

A study published Monday in the journal Nature purports to show 60 million infections in the U.S. were prevented with these lockdowns. The Washington Post incorrectly calls that proof “the aggressive and unprecedented shutdowns” were the right call. Nonsense. The Nature study never considers how many infections could have been prevented with less draconian measures, including targeting nursing homes.

Sadly, science is losing its luster as the profession puts politics ahead of the truth. Last week, two prestigious medical journals, Lancet and the New England Journal of Medicine, which until recently set the gold standard for scientific publications, had to retract articles they had published on hydroxychloroquine.

Both had dispensed with rigorous peer review to rush out articles purporting to show that President Trump’s favored COVID-19 drug, hydroxychloroquine, endangers patients. They were so eager to ridicule the president that they ended up discrediting themselves. Turns out the data in the articles was bogus.

No surprise. Lancet editors had published their own editorial a week earlier calling on voters to unseat Trump in November. As if a British medical journal should even have a position on the U.S. presidential election.

Americans have learned a powerful lesson. When politicians tell us to follow the science, it’s not that simple. Many scientists have lost their legitimacy.

They proposed a draconian lockdown without assessing its side effects on the rest of us. They demanded rigorous adherence to it, until, suddenly, they decided marching against racism was more important than preventing virus deaths. Americans won’t forget.

Even guidelines for reopening are arbitrary, reflecting these public health experts’ fickle priorities. New York City residents have to wait until late June for sidewalk dining at restaurants. But it’s OK, even laudable, for throngs of protesters to march down the street now, many maskless and shouting.

Betsy McCaughey is chairman of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths and a former lieutenant governor of New York. Contact her at betsy@betsymccaughey.com.

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