by Jon Sanders
Research Editor and Senior Fellow, Regulatory Studies, John Locke Foundation
As we have pointed out since last May, the Cooper administration’s lax reporting of death data to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is a national disgrace. The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) is not one month, not two months, and now not even three months behind the rest of the nation in reporting these data.
The rest of the nation is already reporting data into 2021. Cooper’s DHHS hasn’t even gotten North Carolina reporting data from October yet. It’s that bad.
And it’s not just slack. It could keep health officials from being alerted to an excess death event in North Carolina outside of COVID-19. Namely, excess deaths owing to the unintended effects of Cooper’s severe restrictions against people and businesses supposedly to keep them safe from COVID-19.
I wrote a research brief on Nov. 10 entitled “Are Gov. Cooper’s Executive Orders having devastating health effects?” Using data from CDC, I showed that North Carolina had been seeing above-average and excess deaths even without counting COVID-19 deaths. I could only go through August because of DHHS laxity, but I asked:
Based on experts’ concerns, the CDC survey, WHO’s reversal on lockdowns, the Great Barrington Declaration, and the lack of an obvious alternate explanation, we need to ask the question that began this column:
Are Gov. Cooper’s lockdowns, business shutdowns and partial shutdowns, social-distancing policies, gathering bans, and myriad other restrictions on people, places, and events having devastating health effects on North Carolinians?
What if they are? How would Cooper and Cohen know to heed the chorus of experts against lockdowns and shutdowns if their numbers are current only through mid-August? How many North Carolinians are suffering negative health impacts because of it?
What has happened since asking that question? Cooper certainly hasn’t bothered to rethink whether his restrictions might be causing more harm than good.
Heedlessly, Cooper ordered the continuation of his existing severe personal and business restrictions on Nov. 13. But then he decided to tighten his restrictions on Nov. 25. He tightened them again on Dec. 11 by forcing a curfew on people and businesses. He has since re-upped those even tighter restrictions Jan. 8.
Another thing that has happened is that the National Bureau for Economic Research published new research (adding to the science and data) warning of devastating health effects lasting for decades from lockdowns and other government restrictions:
In a new National Bureau for Economic Research paper, researchers from Harvard University, Johns Hopkins University, and Duke University concluded that a staggering 890,000 additional deaths may result over the next 15 years stemming from actions taken to mitigate the spread of the virus.
“Our results suggest that the toll of lives claimed by the SARS-CoV-2 virus far exceeds those immediately related to the acute COVID-19 critical illness and that the recession caused by the pandemic can jeopardize population health for the next two decades,” the researchers said.
Specifically, the researchers cite unemployment spikes from lockdowns and other government restrictions that were two to five times larger than typical unemployment shocks.
What hasn’t happened? We still don’t have enough new data from DHHS to determine if we’ve been seeing twin excess death events in late summer through fall. As of Jan. 21, DHHS has only reported partial data through Sept. 26.
Nearly all the rest of the United States has reported data through Jan. 2, with the exceptions of Alaska, Indiana, Rhode Island, and Washington (Dec. 26); West Virginia (Dec. 19); and Connecticut (Dec. 5).
Add this disgrace with DHHS’s disastrous, bottom-of-the-nation vaccine rollout, and I have to ask Cooper and DHHS Sec. Mandy Cohen: What is it you do here, exactly?
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