I’m at @PublicDiscourse by @lymanstoneky

I’m at @PublicDiscourse today writing up my take on why I don’t think lockdowns work.

I use data from 13 regions around the world, as well as all US county data, to show that lockdowns have no demonstrated connection to reduced deaths.


One of the lowkey most important contributions of this article is my insistence on a formal definition of “lockdowns,” an issue that @PTBwrites and @Comparativist have both raised many times.

I am unwilling to be constrained by the absurd vaguery which classifies “any major effort to reduce the COVID death toll” as a lockdown. I think, if we are to advance our understanding of the public health issues involved here, we need precise terms.

My definition of “lockdown” is simple:
1. A shelter-in-place order of requiring excuses to be outside of the house
2. Extremely low-threshold assembly bans
3. Forced closure of wide sections of businesses.

Forcing sick people and their contacts to be isolated in a hotel room for 14 days is not a lockdown. Cancelling school is not a lockdown. Requiring masks is not a lockdown. Banning gatherings of 500 people is not a lockdown.

I think most people agree on this distinction.

Where I think there’s more ambiguity, and an important point raised by @Comparativist , is on travel restrictions. If you cannot cross state borders, is it a lockdown?

I say no. @Comparativist says yes.

To me, we should distinguish between inter-regional travel restrictions and intra-regional restrictions. Saying, “you can have a normal-ish life within the local area, but not go outside it” seems diffeerent from “you can’t leave your house without an excuse.”

I agree that restricting inter-regional travel works. It’s an important part of avoiding having an outbreak.

I just don’t think that’s the same thing as arresting people for going fishing.

Will never cease to blow my mind that the American view is that canceling basically the entire Bill of Rights for the entire population is less invasive than putting sick people and their contacts in a hotel.