Curves Tell a Story: Lockdowns Had No Effect on COVID-19 Spread

"If we showed people these curves without any markings, they would not be able to discern when or even if lockdowns went into effect"

In 1932, Supreme Court justice Louis Brandeis famously called the states “laboratories of democracy.” Different states can test out different policies, and they can learn from each other. That proved true in 2020. Governors in different states responded to the COVID-19 pandemic at different times and in different ways. Some states, such as California, ordered sweeping shutdowns. Others, such as Florida, took a more targeted approach. Still others, such as South Dakota, dispensed information but had no lockdowns at all.

As a result, we can now compare outcomes in different states, to test the question no one wants to ask: Did the lockdowns make a difference?

If lockdowns really altered the course of this pandemic, then coronavirus case counts should have clearly dropped whenever and wherever lockdowns took place. The effect should have been obvious, though with a time lag. It takes time for new coronavirus infections to be officially counted, so we would expect the numbers to plummet as soon as the waiting time was over.

How long? New infections should drop on day one and be noticed about ten or eleven days from the beginning of the lockdown. By day six, the number of people with first symptoms of infection should plummet (six days is the average time for symptoms to appear). By day nine or ten, far fewer people would be heading to doctors with worsening symptoms. If COVID-19 tests were performed right away, we would expect the positives to drop clearly on day ten or eleven (assuming quick turnarounds on tests).

To judge from the evidence, the answer is clear: Mandated lockdowns had little effect on the spread of the coronavirus. The charts below show the daily case curves for the United States as a whole and for thirteen U.S. states. As in almost every country, we consistently see a steep climb as the virus spreads, followed by a transition (marked by the gray circles) to a flatter curve. At some point, the curves always slope downward, though this wasn’t obvious for all states until the summer.

Lockdowns Not the Cause

The lockdowns can’t be the cause of these transitions. In the first place, the transition happened even in places without lockdown orders (see Iowa and Arkansas). And where there were lockdowns, the transitions tended to occur well before the lockdowns could have had any serious effect. The only possible exceptions are California, which on March 19 became the first state to officially lock down, and Connecticut, which followed four days later.

Even in these places, though, the downward transitions probably started before the lockdowns could have altered the curves. The reason is that a one-day turnaround for COVID-19 test results probably wasn’t met in either state. On March 30, the Los Angeles Times reported the turnaround time to be eight days. That would make the delay from infection to confirmation not the 10 we assumed, but more like 17 days (6 for symptoms to appear, 3 for them to develop, and 8 for test processing). In early April, the Hartford Courant reported similar problems with delayed test results in Connecticut.

What’s more, there’s no decisive drop on the dates when lockdowns should have changed the course of the curves. Instead, the curves gradually bend downward for reasons that predate the lockdowns, with no clear changes ten days later.

Lockdown partisans might say that the curves would have been higher after the ten-day mark without the lockdown. While we can’t redo history to prove them wrong, the point is that the sudden and dramatic changes we should see if they were right aren’t there.

If we showed people these curves without any markings, they would not be able to discern when or even if lockdowns went into effect.

The vertical lines mark the date when the number of deaths attributed to the coronavirus reached five per million people in the population. This is probably the best way to mark similar extents of viral progress in each state, since we don’t know how many total cases there were. The curves usually start to bend somewhere around the same death toll (roughly five per million people), which suggests that the approach of herd immunity caused the bends. In other words, we see in this data not only a lack of evidence that lockdowns caused the curves to bend, but also evidence of the very early stages of herd immunity.

In fact, a May 18 column in the New York Times argued that coronavirus cases in New York City probably peaked before the state lockdown began on March 22. Though that newspaper is not known for taking a critical stance on lockdowns, this point implies that the spread was slowing before the mayor and governor even ordered the lockdown.

Something caused this overall decline. It couldn’t have been lockdowns, which weren’t maintained (or heeded) in full force through June. At the moment, we can only speculate. But if this virus is like others, its decline is likely attributable to some mix of changing seasons and the gradual onset of herd immunity. Another factor, of course, could be the widespread use of masks as the year progressed.

The evidence suggests, then, that the sweeping, mandated lockdowns that followed voluntary responses exacted a great cost, with little effect on transmission. We can’t change the past, but we should avoid making the same mistake again.

Source: National Review


    see all those thug pigs surrounding those women with a baby..

  2. James says

    “Herd Immunity” How could that be when get tested positive but don’t have any flu symptoms?

  3. didactic1 says

    The “sort” of people laid off, probably forever, are not people as defined by information society/war/ medical/financial services-complex clean, real people.

    Trillions spent in public cost, trillions made by investors.

  4. Ron Ronery says

    It’s a “SCAM” or “PLAN” demic. The real question is what is the agenda since our puppet talking heads in Government are too stupid or too manipulated with self interest to ask that simple question for the benefit of the public the serve.

    1. Saint Jimmy (Russian American) says

      Too late. Once the politicians and politically appointed officials became personally invested in the pandemic and “lock down”, which was in March and April, they couldn’t suddenly reverse their earlier statements and stances and voice opinions out of step with the majority and the hugely powerful corporations and individuals with vested interests in “vaccines” and research and consolidating oligopolies around voids left in various sectors of the economy. They would have been ruined and they know that. Cowardice? Yeah. I guess so.

      1. Steve Struthers says

        Huge cowardice, at that. Plus, admitting that they screwed up by instituting pointless lockdowns that nearly permanently destroyed the economy would be political suicide.

        The biggest reason why lockdowns don’t work is that the moment you ease them or do away with them, cases go back up, and governments seem fixated on the idea that you can somehow control a potentially dangerous virus if you just look at case numbers.

        The really important measurements with any readily-transmissible infectious disease are how many people are actually sickened and hospitalized (that is, laid up in a hospital bed for more than a few hours in the ER) and how many die.

        Millions of asymptomatic (and probably non-contagious) cases mean little if the death rate is low and ICUs in hospitals are not being overwhelmed with patients.

        1. Saint Jimmy (Russian American) says

          Yeah. There is no pandemic.

  5. ke4ram says

    No kidding….. Obviously a hoax to initiate their green whatever.

    “But if this virus is like others…” Article.

    Once again,,, prove the virus exists! Double dare ya.

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