CV NEWS FEED // A new report found that COVID-19 restrictions severely affected the economy, household finances, and children’s education, while also increasing health risks by delaying treatments and consultations for cancer patients.
A September study by the Pacific Research Institute called “No Solutions, Only Trade-offs” evaluated the consequences of the COVID-19 restrictions, such as mask mandates and business closures, by examining numerous studies on the impacts of those restrictions.
The Pacific Research Institute is an organization that champions “freedom, opportunity, and personal responsibility for all individuals by advancing free-market policy solutions.”
The study found that COVID-19 restrictions reduced the rate of COVID-19 infections and deaths only “at the expense of sizable decreases in economic growth and education outcomes” and with an increase in other health risks.
The report noted that the COVID-19 restrictions had unintended impacts on other health risks, “such as the increased number of late cancer identifications due to delayed cancer screenings.”
“Incorporating these impacts offset the net health benefits from the more restrictive interventions,” the study read.
According to the study, the restrictions proved especially harmful to school-age children, resulting in an “unprecedented decline” in reading scores and a “universal and disconcerting decline” in math scores across the United States.
Restrictive policies also contributed to economic decline, as states with more restrictive policies “suffered larger economic consequences compared to the low intervention states.”
The states that enforced the highest restrictions saw the worst levels of decline, “particularly in the food and accommodation sectors.”
“The literature on the effect of lockdowns on infection rates and mortality rates is divided, but the documented earning losses, increased unemployment rates, and lost economic opportunities is well documented.”
The study’s findings “[imply] that it is essential to consider the large costs that interventions impose upfront while devising future pandemic responses.”
Though not mentioned by this report, the spiritual cost of the restrictions, especially in hospitals, was also high. Restrictive hospital access prevented many patients from receiving essential sacraments, according to a report by CatholicVote.
For example, in May 2020, Dr. Joseph Meaney, president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC), was hospitalized after unexpectedly losing consciousness and going into cardiac arrest from an undiscovered, life-threatening genetic condition.
The early months of the pandemic saw some of the most restrictive COVID-19 policies, meaning that Meaney could not access the sacraments while hospitalized.
“I was not able to see a priest during my four-day stay at the hospital, even though I tested negative for COVID-19 and my wife and I asked repeatedly for the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick,” Meaney wrote in a commentary for the NCBC’s Ethics & Medics journal in July of 2020.
“Due to these trade-offs—the large costs that these policies impose on the young, other low-risk groups, and the broader economy—policy interventions should focus on safeguarding high-risk groups and serving as an objective information clearinghouse while avoiding restrictions on broader society,” the study concluded.