Lifting Lockdown: Episode 12

Originally posted 23JUL2020

Previously on Lifting Lockdown:
– Suits. Lots of lawsuits. Joined by Arizona. Because that’s just where we are today.
– We saw Philadelphia go into Independence Day under lockdown
– USAPL canned most of its Nationals schedule, with Collegiates remaining.

After the huge chasm of time separating Episodes 10 and 11, I want to do two things tonight. First, I want to update previous stories to the extent that I can. Second, I want to take a closer look at the impact of lockdown long-term. Even putting aside gyms (although we will certainly touch on them), what has been the impact of lockdown outside of them?

This episode of Lifting Lockdown is something of a checkpoint.

Tonight, we look at all of the stuff surrounding COVID. The physical and mental health impacts, the long-term economic impacts (and the physical/mental impact THAT brings).

We will go in-depth on domestic violence through the pandemic (including a hand signal for video calls, and other resources. We’re discussing it both because it’s important and because it’s part of the pandemic I was blind to for way too damn long and I feel the need to rectify that mistake.)

We will close this evening with a quick discussion on lawsuits.

That all being said, a peek behind the curtain at the last few weeks. Getting together this episode has been a mental trainwreck. Once one examines the damage, and once one looks at the data relating to COVID, it is difficult to justify further lockdown. The first few weeks, back when it was about “flatten the curve” were fair enough. The last few MONTHS? Not so much. COVID doesn’t happen in a vacuum, it never did. And yet, we’re essentially asked to pretend that it does, and whatever damage caused by it is merely “frustrating.”

It leads to a mental image where there’s a group of people celebrating “defeating” this virus (which isn’t happening, by the way) in the foreground, while a bunch of people who have lost basically everything are completely forgotten about in the background, largely abandoned because nobody wants to talk about the damage lockdowns have caused. I call this image “We’re All In This Together?”

Not much room for positivity in this one; this is a damage inspection, not an effort to tarp over the damage.

It’s not pretty, but it needs to be covered.

So, let’s talk about the impacts of lockdown.

1.) Physical. —- This article from Time magazine regarding studies showing COVID-19 lockdowns leading to people being more sedentary than they were to begin with will serve as this section’s grounding element. This article was featured back in Episode 3 and has aged like fine wine, to be completely frank. —- [H/T Mike Newbern] —- This is from Alywn Crosgrove of Results Fitness. Cosgrove points out multiple examples of how increased physical activity REDUCES risk of COVID-19. —- He cites this study about how physical exercise is one of the main ways to prevent getting sick, largely because of the physical and mental health benefits of physical activity. —- In Episode 10, we would come across this study showing that sedentary lifestyle leading to an increase in chronic diseases. —- We also have this study showing that physical activity dropped during COVID-19, “raising concerns for health” —- [H/T Donna Marts] —- More recently, we have seen that obesity has been tied to the severity of COVID symptoms. This is in addition to everything else obesity is tied to, namely cardiovascular disease (which kills significantly more Americans than any other disease).

(Sidebar: In his multiple Executive Orders, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has defined “medically fragile” to include those with “severe or Class 3 obesity.”) —- Of course, the irony came back on Episode 5, when Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis mused “this is a respiratory virus that tends to attack people who have health problems or are not in good physical condition. So don’t we want people to stay in shape” during a press conference on 15MAY announcing Florida’s continued reopening. —- This was exactly the case made back in Episode 3 by Friendship Fitness in Ohio, whose governor treated gyms worse than bars. Ohio gyms had a two-pronged approach, combining testifying before government committees with suing the government. (Lifting Lockdowns 1-4) —- Also from Episode 3, this look at the opioid epidemic, and the impact COVID has had on that. —- More recently, we have seen evidence of an increase in drug overdoses in general. — To close out the physical section, we can’t do much better than this. New research has all but validated people like Joe Sullivan, Collin Whitney, and Ian Smith. —- Namely this study from Norway showing that gyms that follow basic hygiene guidelines have no higher risk of transmission than anywhere else. This is in addition to the physical health benefits described above.

Point blank:
Lack of physical activity INCREASES risk of getting sick.
INCREASED physical activity DECREASES risk of getting sick.

2.) Mental —- Back in episode 8, we discussed a rise of suicides in the San Fran Bay Area. Namely how doctors in the area had seen more suicide deaths than COVID-19 deaths. — More than 600 doctors signed a letter to President Trump about the “exponentially growing health consequences” of lockdown. The letter goes on to note that “poverty and financial uncertainty” is closely linked to poor health. We’ll get to poverty and financial uncertainty in a moment. —- “Mental health in the UK’s COVID-19 lockdown is a brewing crisis that could cause more damage than the virus itself.” —- Back in May, Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNBC that long-term lockdowns could end up causing “irreparable damage” if they went on too long. — Finally, while children have largely been spared the physical impacts of COVID itself, it hasn’t been easy on their mental state. This article in Time does a remarkable job connecting the mental health of children to the state of the economy, and frankly, the stress the pandemic is causing on those children.

3.) Economic —- This is from Episode 8. It is simply titled “Lockdowns haven’t been worth the havoc.” —- WSJ had a great piece out entited: “The Data Are In: It’s time for a major reopening.” I prefer this one over the Bloomberg piece, but both are excellent. Both look at the economic impact of lockdown, and ask whether or not lockdowns actually achieved their goals. —- Dr. John Ionnadis predicted that lockdowns would have considerable damage without much benefit. He has been validated several times over. — He’s also far from alone. —- It’s cold comfort for small business owners, many of whom have decided that the current environment isn’t survivable, and have given up.

4.) Domestic Violence. Domestic abuse does not fit neatly into any of the above categories. In fact, domestic abuse often involves all three: physical, mental, and economic (read: financial) abuse. — This article from Psychology Today will serve as our grounding point. Specifically the following excerpt:
“For some, the correlation between sheltering-in-place and increased IPV seems to have elicited surprise. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, for example, expressed alarm upon learning of the increased reports of domestic violence within his state. But for anyone experienced with IPV, the increase in its occurrence arrived with the predictability of the tides. IPV surges in times of natural disasters and crises. We previously witnessed this ugly social phenomenon during Hurricane Harvey in 2017, and we will see it again during whatever form of Armageddon brings the nation to its knees on the next go-around.” —- We move on to this NYT report, which looks at global efforts to combat domestic violence, which as discussed above, many apparently didn’t see coming.

The article also introduces a term I am not familiar with to define domestic violence but think is perfect: “intimate terrorism.” —- Lockdown measures are also being blamed for a surge in violence against children. —- A relatively new study shows that domestic violence has doubled in the wake of the pandemic.

Before we get out of here, a few resources from domestic violence groups here in the US, and one from Canada that I hope catches on even after the pandemic. —- This is from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. —- This is from the PA Coalition Against Domestic Violence. — Finally, there is this neat idea from the Canadian Women’s Foundation. The Foundation came up with a hand signal that someone in an abusive situation can use when communicating with someone else over video. The idea, in theory, is that the victim can use this hand signal in such a way that the victim can signal for help WITHOUT leaving a digital trace (such as a text message, or straight up vocalizing it).

It is worth noting the rather obvious obstacles in this situation, namely the prevalence of screen recorders (i.e. the one quite literally built into iOS), and (as the Foundation readily admits) the fact that abusers will inevitably learn the signal as well. But it’s a resource, and anybody who has been in that situation before knows that you will take whatever help you can get.

Because, regardless of what the internet mob might say, you can’t “just leave” an abusive relationship.

5.) Lifting Lockdown Lawsuit Listings. Finally, a brief summary of all lockdown-related lawsuits we’re currently aware of. —- 03JUL2020: Illinois Lockdown tossed —- 14MAY2020 Wisconsin Stay-at-Home Order Tossed —- 20MAY2020 Ohio gym closures tossed —- STL County lawsuit dropped —- Arizona lawsuit still happening. It’s worth pointing out the following bit from Reason:

“The unwillingness of large segments of the fitness industry to close down again illustrates just how tired Americans are of seemingly endless lockdowns that have kept them inside and endangered their businesses. Many of these gym owners complained to the media that they’re adopting the same cleaning and social distancing protocols as businesses that are allowed to remain open.

It’s a sign that state officials are going to be increasingly hardpressed to force people back into their homes, regardless of the public health merits.”

We’re going to skip Atilis Gym, for the most part. Not because I’ve stopped caring. (Quite the contrary; much like PwrBld, I need to get to Atilis at some point. Rather, because the movement of the last week or so warrants its own recap. In the past week, Gov. Murphy tried again to force Atilis to close by having the locks changed. Atilis removed the doors, and eventually won against a contempt of court charge. —- We’ll handle all of that later, but there is this interview of Atilis Gym’s Ian Smith from 21JUL2020 on Tucker Carlson I’d like to share with you.

6.) Closing thoughts. In 2018, Poland’s 11-bit Studios released the video game Frostpunk. The game took place in a single city, cut off from all civilization, in an extremely cold climate. The themes of morality and being forced to decide between two bad options permeated every second of the gameplay. The player was tasked with building a city from scratch in an environment that actively hated everyone

Should the player manage to survive to the end of the game, the player is presented with a stop-motion recap of the city’s evolution, with key decisions flashing on screen. Before asking a very simple question: “The city has survived, but was it worth it?”

The goal of Lifting Lockdown tonight was to look at the damage around lockdown. To account for basically everything that has happened while we were shaming people for being outside, attacking business owners, and trying to spin losing everything as merely “I know its frustrating.”

Losing everything is not merely “frustrating,” it’s not an “inconvenience.” It’s devastating. And, for a lot of people, it has gone ignored.

What started as “just two weeks,” in many places has become several months. “Flatten the curve” is a term nobody even remembers using, and the data coming out on COVID suggests a plummeting fatality rate.

As Dr. Ionnadis has noted for months, the lockdowns have not been worth it. In the process, we’ve destroyed businesses that didn’t need to be destroyed. We’ve forced people with numerous other diseases to delay treatment. We’ve told people to go onto unemployment systems that we knew didn’t work. We’ve forced people who do not take well to isolation to isolate regardless.

The data we’re seeing shows that the virus is not nearly as fatal as first claimed. The data we’re seeing shows that we’ve made a conscious decision to exacerbate other problems, while simultaneously paying almost no attention TO those problems.

The data shows that we’re about to get out of a physical health crisis, only to roll straight into a mental health one. We aren’t ready to have a discussion on either one.

The consequences of the last few months will last long after we lift the lockdown.

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