COVID-19 lockdowns must end for the sake of our overall health

Outside a store in Wisconsin earlier this month

By John Ruberry

Who else besides me is fed up wearing a mask when shopping at a supermarket?

Or at work?

Or a restaurant? 

I haven’t eaten inside an Illinois restaurant–or in a tent–since Governor JB Pritzker instituted his first lockdown in March. I’ve picked up take-out meals only.

Who has had enough of lockdowns?

As a person with a strong libertarian bent I don’t like being bossed around, pestered, or nagged. 

But I’ve been coping with all of that for months. 

I know ten people who’ve contracted COVID-19. Only two of them told me they were very ill. Two were asymptomatic. All of them are still with us–in fact, they’ve all returned to their jobs as if nothing happened. 

Last month the Centers for Disease Control released the survival rates for those who have contracted COVID-19.

  • Age 0-19 — 99.997%
  • Age 20-49 — 99.98%
  • Age 50-69 — 99.5%
  • Age 70+ — 94.6%

So if you are over 70, and most people already know that seniors are more prone to death from COVID-19 than everyone else, you have a 94.6 percent of surviving. President Trump is one of those septuagenarians who has recovered. Yes, COVID-19 is serious, because those stats also say those 70 and over have a slightly higher than 5 percent chance of dying from it. 

Here’s another situation where that percentage, 94 percent, comes in to play. Nearly two months ago the CDC said of those deaths from the novel coronavirus, 94 percent had “multiple chronic conditions.” In other words, they were already unhealthy. Every death is tragic. But part of life is getting sick, getting injured, getting old, and yes, passing away. You can fool, perhaps, your neighbors or co-workers about your true age with hair dye and plastic surgery, but never can you hoodwink Father Time. 

Humans are intensely social animals, as are all primates. It’s in our genetic makeup. The most watched television shows and movies are centered on personal interactions. One of the most popular TV programs ever aired is “Friends.” There is not a show entitled “Hermits,” there is no interest in producing such a program because few people would want to watch it. 

The death rate from COVID-19 is very low for the very young. Yet many of our schools are closed except for cold and impersonal Zoom sessions.

Usually our first and most lasting impressions with others of our species is by way of their faces. But the mask requirements in many states, especially blue ones like mine, take those connections away from us.

The lockdowns have led to an increase in drug overdoses and possibly suicides. Among young people, the CDC says, the death rate for young people is higher for overdoses and suicides than for COVID 19.

That wave just might be beginning. For instance, Chicago, which is just south of where I live, just instated another curfew because of an uptick in COVID cases. All businesses deemed non-essential for the next two weeks must close between 10pm and 6am. Bars and restaurants, already reeling from being closed down this spring, will be hit especially hard. Some of these businesses, especially those struck by looting this summer, will never re-open. Which means of course more people will be prone to suicide and drug and alcohol abuse. The workforce in the food and beverage industry is disproportionately young.

Mrs. Marathon Pundit was an early victim of the COVID-19 lockout layoffs. She’s fine–she has a new job in a different field. But her former boss was forced to downsize his business, which I believe his home mortgage was tied into. He sold his home this summer and moved into a much smaller residence.

There are millions of former business owners facing similar situations across America. And not all workers, such as Mrs. Marathon Pundit, will be able to land on their feet. 

One “fix” to the drop in revenue for brick-and-mortar restaurants is to set up plastic tents next to them. Diners instead of eating indoors will be eating, sort of, outdoors in these tents, but still breathing each other’s air. Alongside them in cold weather climates, in the winter, will be space heaters, which are a well-known fire hazard. 

Follow the science. 

Take a deep breath before reading this next paragraph.

Based on my current age, overall health, and family history, I’ll probably live another 25-years. I do not want to spend those years wearing a mask. I don’t want to go running outdoors–and this really happened–as I run 50 yards past a couple who, in horror, hurriedly put their masks over their faces as I move, maskless, down the street that I live on as if I am Typhoid Mary. According to federal government data, there have been 624 positive cases of COVID-19 in the town I live in, Morton Grove, which has a population of 23,000.

Who frightened that Morton Grove couple? Not me, well not initially that is.

Will the mask mandates return–if they ever go away–when a more virulent than usual strain of the flu strikes?

Follow the science. 

This is not a distress from me call but instead a call for action. For the sake of our overall health–while maintaining strict safety controls in places such as senior homes and hospitals–these lockdowns must end. But I suspect many politicians–such as Mayor Lori Lightfoot of Chicago–don’t want the lockdowns to end. They are too in love with power. Lightfoot and Gov. Pritzker told us we needed the lockdowns to “flatten the curve” in the spring so hospitals wouldn’t be overwhelmed. Now they want to prevent all of us getting sick, which as we know is not possible.

The goalposts keep moving.

Years ago I read in a book about marathon training that stated that distance running, all things being equal, does indeed lead to a longer life expectancy. But more importantly, those extra years on this planet for runners usually mean they are enjoyable years. Who is going to sign up for an additional ten years of life if those years will consist of living in a nursing home in need of 24-hour care?

The quality of life for myself and millions of others is diminished because we are ordered to wear masks and to avoid each other.

End the lockdowns.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

The science behind Coronavirus lockdowns is far from settled

Far too many individuals blindly accept the freedom and economy destroying lockdowns that governors have forced upon us because they believe that the lockdowns are based on science.  That is the narrative that has been crammed down the throats of all of us by the dangerously corrupt liberal news media.  The truth is far different but few are aware it.  That is why I’m writing this article.  On social media I share the truth, however, so many of my liberal friends dismiss the truth because it comes from right wing websites such as Breitbart, American Thinker, and the Federalist.

I was shocked to see actual truth in this New York Times article, which I immediately shared on Facebook and Twitter.  As you can see, Coronavirus is no where as prevalent in the United States as the media trumpets because the most often used test is far too sensitive.

Some of the nation’s leading public health experts are raising a new concern in the endless debate over coronavirus testing in the United States: The standard tests are diagnosing huge numbers of people who may be carrying relatively insignificant amounts of the virus.

Most of these people are not likely to be contagious, and identifying them may contribute to bottlenecks that prevent those who are contagious from being found in time.

Here is the scientific explanation behind the overly sensitive tests:

The PCR test amplifies genetic matter from the virus in cycles; the fewer cycles required, the greater the amount of virus, or viral load, in the sample. The greater the viral load, the more likely the patient is to be contagious.

This number of amplification cycles needed to find the virus, called the cycle threshold, is never included in the results sent to doctors and coronavirus patients, although it could tell them how infectious the patients are.

The PCR tests uses too many amplification cycles.

Most tests set the limit at 40, a few at 37. This means that you are positive for the coronavirus if the test process required up to 40 cycles, or 37, to detect the virus.

Tests with thresholds so high may detect not just live virus but also genetic fragments, leftovers from infection that pose no particular risk — akin to finding a hair in a room long after a person has left, Dr. Mina said.

A more reasonable cutoff would be 30 to 35, she added. Dr. Mina said he would set the figure at 30, or even less. Those changes would mean the amount of genetic material in a patient’s sample would have to be 100-fold to 1,000-fold that of the current standard for the test to return a positive result — at least, one worth acting on.

There has been a mini-serge of Coronavirus cases here in Massachusetts which has resulted in Governor Baker halting his tortuously slow reopening plan.  This serge is based on a big lie.

 In Massachusetts, from 85 to 90 percent of people who tested positive in July with a cycle threshold of 40 would have been deemed negative if the threshold were 30 cycles, Dr. Mina said. “I would say that none of those people should be contact-traced, not one,” he said.

A large number of medical experts have recently condemned the Coronavirus lockdowns. Those who rely on the mainstream media for news are completely unaware of this development.  Here is a description of the group from this Breitbart article

The internationally known experts, who identify themselves as “coming from both the left and right, and around the world,” have produced what they call the “Great Barrington Declaration,” which, to date, has been signed by nearly 4,700 medical and public health scientists, 8,900 medical practitioners, and 123,300 members of the general public.

Here are the opening paragraphs ofThe Great Barrington Declaration

As infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists we have grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies, and recommend an approach we call Focused Protection. 

Coming from both the left and right, and around the world, we have devoted our careers to protecting people. Current lockdown policies are producing devastating effects on short and long-term public health. The results (to name a few) include lower childhood vaccination rates, worsening cardiovascular disease outcomes, fewer cancer screenings and deteriorating mental health – leading to greater excess mortality in years to come, with the working class and younger members of society carrying the heaviest burden. Keeping students out of school is a grave injustice. 

The Great Barrington Declaration recommends a must better approach for dealing with the  Coronavirus Pandemic.

As immunity builds in the population, the risk of infection to all – including the vulnerable – falls. We know that all populations will eventually reach herd immunity – i.e.  the point at which the rate of new infections is stable – and that this can be assisted by (but is not dependent upon) a vaccine. Our goal should therefore be to minimize mortality and social harm until we reach herd immunity. 

The most compassionate approach that balances the risks and benefits of reaching herd immunity, is to allow those who are at minimal risk of death to live their lives normally to build up immunity to the virus through natural infection, while better protecting those who are at highest risk. We call this Focused Protection. 

Instead of placing all of us under house arrest and shuttering all of our businesses we should:

Those who are not vulnerable should immediately be allowed to resume life as normal. Simple hygiene measures, such as hand washing and staying home when sick should be practiced by everyone to reduce the herd immunity threshold. Schools and universities should be open for in-person teaching. Extracurricular activities, such as sports, should be resumed. Young low-risk adults should work normally, rather than from home. Restaurants and other businesses should open. Arts, music, sport and other cultural activities should resume. People who are more at risk may participate if they wish, while society as a whole enjoys the protection conferred upon the vulnerable by those who have built up herd immunity.

The lockdowns are so not backed by science that the World Health Organization has recently reversed course on them,

I long so much for the time before Coronavirus dominated all aspects of our lives

This year will go down in history as the year that everything was either canceled or ruined.  Those that are uninformed, or have bought into the media coverage will blame the Coronavirus for the disruption of our lives and the US economy.  Those that really understand what is going on will rightly blame government overreaction to the Coronavirus as the true culprit causing so much misery.

This past weekend I would have attended the Woodstock Fair, however, like everything else fun, that was canceled.   The number of Coronavirus cases in the surrounding area is quite low along with hospitalizations and deaths.  The virus peaked way back in mid April.  The only reason virus cases show up at all is because so many asymptomatic individuals are being tested.

Life for school children has been turned completely upside down and it is all so unnecessary.  It has been reported so often that school aged children are barely affected by the virus.  Most schools will require students to wear masks full time.  Few ask whether this will be physically or mentally harmful to the children.  I fear it will be both.  Also schools will require that students maintain social distancing and not engage in any fun activities. 

Massachusetts still leads the nation in unemployment thanks to our governors disastrous business lockdown.  Restaurants can only operate at 25 percent capacity and all bars are still closed.  Wearing masks in restaurants when walking to tables and when servers are near is required.   Oh that is so much fun.

Concerts and other crowd intensive activities are still canceled in the State of Massachusetts.  Any type of gatherings in this state is limited to just 50 people,  The governor mandated that if you have ten or more in your own house or backyard everyone must wear masks.  I say bite me to that.

Even going to the library has been turned into a depressing experience.  Masks must be worn and social distancing is a must.  They take down your information for contact tracing reasons.

The only way life gets back to normal for all of us is if we stand up and say enough is enough in very loud clear voices.

Do these two developments prove the Coronavirus lockdowns were unnecessary?

Over the weekend two major Coronavirus related developments swept non mainstream media websites which cast doubts as to whether any of the economy crushing lockdowns were necessary.  Not only did these lockdowns crush state economies across the United States, a significant majority of the citizens of this nation had their most fundamental rights violated and stripped away.  This was all done because of a pandemic which is far less serious than the federal government, state governments, and the media made it out to be.

The first development, concerning the actual lethality of Coronavirus, is documented in this Townhall article.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website disclosed the shockingly small number of people who died from only the Wuhan coronavirus, with no other cause of death mentioned. Hold on to your hat because here it is: out of the 161,392 deaths in the CDC data, just six percent, about 9,700 deaths, were attributed to the coronavirus alone. According to the CDC, the other 94 percent had an average of 2.6 additional conditions or causes of deaths, such as heart disease, diabetes, and sepsis. 

Here is the actual text from the CDC’s Weekly Updates by Select Demographic and Geographic Characteristics

Table 3 shows the types of health conditions and contributing causes mentioned in conjunction with deaths involving coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). For 6% of the deaths, COVID-19 was the only cause mentioned. For deaths with conditions or causes in addition to COVID-19, on average, there were 2.6 additional conditions or causes per death. The number of deaths with each condition or cause is shown for all deaths and by age groups. For data on comorbidities, 

I have long believed that the Coronavirus pandemic has been blown completely out of proportion by the political left in an attempt to sway the upcoming presidential election.  The author of the Townhall article shares my belief.

Something is driving the liberal media’s morbid obsession with the U.S. death toll. The media is doing everything it can to blame the virus on President Trump, a virus that originated in China and is killing people all over the world. It’s been widely known for months that people with comorbidities and the elderly are at higher risk for severe illness due to COVID-19, so why is the media clamoring for prolonged shutdowns and keeping schools closed? Is it because they see a connection between prolonged shutdowns, a weakened economy and the Democrats’ electoral chances in November?

The media snd certain governors have continuously hyped the number of Coronavirus infections as justification for the lockdowns and mask mandates. This Townhall article calls into question the sensitivity of the tests used and the necessity of the continued lockdowns.

According to The New York Times, potentially 90 percent of those who have tested positive for COVID-19 have such insignificant amounts of the virus present in their bodies that such individuals do not need to isolate nor are they candidates for contact tracing. Leading public health experts are now concerned that overtesting is responsible for misdiagnosing a huge number of people with harmless amounts of the virus in their systems.

“Most of these people are not likely to be contagious, and identifying them may contribute to bottlenecks that prevent those who are contagious from being found in time,” warns The Times.

It is well past time that our elected officials lift all of the restrictions put in place in the name of the Coronavirus pandemic and restore the entire country back to the old normal.

To leftists like Lori Lightfoot they are not people they are automatons

By John Ruberry

President Donald J. Trump isn’t the only public official prone to Twitter rants. Yesterday after a trip to Chicago’s lakefront on a hot and humid day, the city’s mayor, Lori Lightfoot, let loose on her constituents.

“It’s called a pandemic, people,” she Tweeted. “This reckless behavior on Montrose Beach is what will cause us to shut down the parks and lakefront. Don’t make us take steps backwards.”

That “reckless behavior” consisted of people gathering at the beach. Chicago’s 18-miles of lakefront parks were closed–they were guarded by Chicago police officers for most of the spring and much of this summer. The cops remained posted at these parks during the riots and looting in May–by people presumably spreading the COVID-19 virus. Riots of course are now, by the liberals, viewed as free speech. After the Lake Michigan parks opened, Lightfoot dispatched an army of “social distance ambassadors” to enforce safe-distancing. I reckon that this snitch army took Saturday off.

Leftist mayors like Lightfoot, Bill de Blasio in New York, Ted Wheeler in Portland, Jenny Durkan in Seattle, and Ethan Berkowitz in Anchorage, they, as I’ve similarly remarked before, love “the people,” but not people. They believe they rule over automatons, faceless entities consisting of countless “Julias,” the void visage featured in the notorious and creepy “Life of Julia” Barack Obama campaign video from 2012. Of course these Julias need an enlightened being, blessed with the correct knowledge, the wisdom of liberalism.

Someone of course like Lightfoot.

At Montrose Beach yesterday Lightfoot saw, like a child in a bedroom, toy soldiers or Barbie dolls to be ordered about. “The people” not people.

Chicago is making national headlines of course for violence, or more specifically, people shooting other people, sometimes killing them.

Late last month a 9-year-old boy was shot to death while playing in a vacant lot. The next morning on Twitter Lightfoot blamed “a bullet,” not the alleged shooter.

“When a 9 year old’s life is ended by a bullet,” she said in that Tweet, “we must all be outraged. These deaths are not mere statistics. And prayers alone will not sooth a broken heart.”

The gang culture that dominates many Chicago neighborhoods is the city’s real problem. And many gang members think it is fine to indiscriminately fire guns at people. Such as the unidentified hoodlum who shot 15-mourners at a funeral home ten days before the 9-year-old was slain.

In a reply to her own Tweet about the murder of that child, Lightfoot added, “Gun violence is every bit a public health crisis as COVID-19.” When I saw that Tweet I thought she had come around, as I thought she Tweeted “gang violence” instead of “gun violence.” If you scanned the brain of Lightfoot you won’t find the words “individual responsibility” paired together.

And if you are from one of those states that Lightfoot labels as a coronavirus hot spot and you visit to Chicago, you may be subject to social media monitoring to ensure you are quarantining.

Thank you Big Sister.

The ultimate responsibility for Lightfoot are the hundreds of thousands of Chicagoans, most of whom, I hope, are not automatons, the ones who voted for Lightweight. She won all 50 of Chicago’s wards over Toni Preckwinkle, who is possibly even more left-wing than Lori, in a runoff election.

What was it that H.L. Mencken said about democracy? Ah yes, here it is, “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”

UPDATE 4:30pm EDT: The mayor also known as Beetlejuice today dispatched police officers to block off access to Montrose Beach. And snow fencing is also preventing access to the beach on this hot and humid Sunday.

John Ruberry regularly blogs just north of Chicago at Marathon Pundit.

My wife and daughter escaped the Illinois lockdown and traveled to Wisconsin

By John Ruberry

As I wrote a couple of posts back the unemployment rate is 67 percent in the Marathon Pundit home here in suburban Chicago. Because of the COVID-19 epidemic, they were furloughed from their jobs.

Obviously in possession of free time Mrs. Marathon Pundit and Little Marathon Pundit decided to travel on this holiday weekend–they headed to Wisconsin. I stayed here to work.

Illinois, run by a Democrat from Chicago, J.B. Pritzker, remains under lockdown. You cannot enter supermarkets or any store with out a mask. Up in Wisconsin, its state Supreme Court struck down its shelter-in-place order made by its Democratic governor, Tony Evers. And its mask requirements.

Wisconsin is a free state. Illinois is a lockdown state. It’s that simple. My wife and daughter’s money is being spent not her3 but north of the Cheese Curtain. In a way they remind me of Poles in the last years of the Cold War visiting West Germany.

Illinois, according to WalletHub, has the most restrictive COVID-19 restrictions in the nation.

I just got off the phone with Mrs. MP. She enthusiastically told me about her first dine-in restaurant experience in two months. The restaurants in Illinois that are open are open for take-out only. On Friday outdoor dining will be allowed in the Prairie State. What if it rains? What if these diners aren’t equipped for al fresco serving? What if they don’t have the necessary permits? What if the restaurant owners can’t apply for an outdoor dining permit because their village hall is closed because of the coronavirus lockdown? Thanks for next-to-nothing, Pritzker.

Then my wife told me about their arrival yesterday in the small town of Mineral Point in the southwestern part America’s Dairyland. There was–wait for it–a parade! One for recent high school graduates. While the graduation ceremony was cancelled, grads in Mineral Point received their moment of glory on the streets. As far as I can gather all parades scheduled in Illinois in spring or early summer were cancelled. “A few people wore masks,” she told me of the people participating or viewing the parade, “but most didn’t.” Some stores are open–mostly the locally-owned ones as opposed to the big chains. “When you go in those places, you don’t have to wear masks,” she enthused.

My wife and daughter went inside, yes inside, a coffee shop, and drank coffee, although a sign outside of that establishment said, “Masks are recommended.” But masks weren’t even recommended when they entered an ice cream parlor.

Many other Illinoisans have escaped to Wisconsin too. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel spoke to one refugee from the Pritzker Lockdown who journeyed to Lake Geneva. “‘All for it,” said Dave Gragnani of McHenry, Illinois, who said he planned to visit a coffee shop and skatepark without any mask or hand sanitizer. “People should have a choice. I’m having a wonderful time.'”

Good for you, Dave!

As the saying goes, “You don’t know what you have until it’s gone.”

Not as much as Wisconsin, but Indiana is opening up too. And of course the welcome mat is open there for Illinoisans fed up with the lockdown. I’m sure Iowa, where my family traveled last month, as well as Missouri and Kentucky, the other states that border Illinois, are enjoying an influx of cash-flush Illinoisans.

Yes, I’m aware that nearly 100,000 people have died of the coronavirus in the United States, although nearly every one of them already had serious health problems. Nursing homes, hospitals, and senior centers need extra protection. 

It’s time to open up the rest of America. And the world. 

Dennis Prager earlier this month wrote that the worldwide COVD-19 lockdown might be biggest mistake in history

John Ruberry regularly writes at Marathon Pundit.

The Unexpectedly Chronicles: Trained in Fear & Helplessness

One of the least surprising things that I’ve seen in the last few weeks has been people so willing to jump on the fear of re-opening bandwagon.

Despite the data, despite what we’ve seen in Florida, Texas and elsewhere there is a solid population that are terrified of the thought of re-opening the country.

Now I’m not talking about those driven by political considerations, (a economy that comes back helps Trump) I’m talking about actual people afraid of what might happen if we do.

Some might be surprised at this development but I’m actually shocked it’s not worse.

For a generation we gave out participation trophies because we were afraid of hurting feelings of those who didn’t win.

You people pushing the idea that grades and tests were bad because it might affect the self esteem of some.

In fact we reached the point where in colleges, places of supposedly higher education we had grief counselors assigned not only over election results that people didn’t like, but also over people who dared utter opinions that differed from the status quo.

And in the last year the use of a pronoun that one didn’t like caused people to crumble

In short we spent twenty years training people not to be able to cope with little things, in fact think of the fairly new word “microaggressions” it’s very name this suggests something small and meaningless, yet for thousands it represents something unbearable.

And now take these people weaned on fear and panic and introduce a virus that can actually kill you.

Do you really expect people who have been weaned on abject panic concerning trifles to be able to cope when faced with the prospect, however small of dying from an actual deadly disease?

So if you find yourself shaking your head over their fear that chunks of the country have over re-opening consider, the surprise isn’t that so many people are gripped with fear, the surprise is that after a quarter century of conditioning more aren’t