The Minneapolis StarTribune reported on Oct. 5 the headline “Pediatric Psych Unit a Response to COVID.” The story read: “Children’s [Hospital of] Minnesota is opening an inpatient psychiatric unit in response to rising levels of pediatric depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The italics are mine. The rise in children’s mental health problems has absolutely nothing do with COVID! It is caused by the lockdowns, not by COVID. But of course the media always says everything bad during the last two years was “caused by COVID.” None of it was. The only bad thing caused by COVID was COVID deaths. Everything else—the loss of live music and live sports, the closing of churches, the closing of restaurants and bars, the lost weddings, the ban on in-person attendance at funerals for non-family, the order to cover our faces so we lose seeing each other’s smiles and facial expressions and are forced to breathe higher carbon dioxide and lower oxygen, resulting in lower IQ and lower mood, and the resultant and entirely predictable and predicted explosions in crime, murder, suicides, clinical depression, child abuse, domestic abuse, poverty, hunger, and starvation, as well as increases in cancer and heart disease deaths because we discouraged people from seeing a doctor for anything other than COVID—was caused by the lockdowns. Our leaders decided to inflict those things on us and accept all of those predictable bad consequences in the hopes of reducing COVID deaths. And it did not even reduce COVID deaths.
But my point today is the child depression and mental health problems. Our leaders closed the schools, stopped child sports and extracurricular activities, and reduced child socialization. Obviously that will result in an explosion of unhappiness, depression, and mental health problems in children. And children are at no risk from COVID. They are at 5 times lower risk of death from COVID than from the flu. We decided to inflict this harm on children, knowing it had no benefit for them, in the hopes of benefitting adults. That is immoral to start with, even if it had benefitted adults. But it did not even benefit adults. Closing schools and ordering children to wear masks in or out of schools has not reduced COVID deaths among teachers, other adults, or children one bit. All the evidence shows it has had no effect whatsoever on COVID deaths. Not a small effect; no effect. And it is not that there is no evidence whether closing schools reduced COVID cases or deaths. The evidence is in and it is quite conclusive: it did not reduce COVID cases or deaths at all.
We deliberately harmed children in the hopes it would benefit adults. Wrap your head around that. And it did not benefit adults, anyway.
It is exactly as if we had decided to break the legs of 5% of children because we had a superstition that that would extend the lives of some 80-year-olds.
That last sentence is not an overstatement. It is a fair analogy. We did not break the legs of 5% of children, instead we decided to drive 20% of children into major depression or other mental illness. Twenty percent is worse than five percent, and I would argue depression is worse than a broken leg, especially in children. Broken bones heal very quickly in children; mental illness can be more long lasting. So it was actually worse than deliberately breaking the legs of 5% of children.
The median age of COVID dead in Minnesota in the first half of the epidemic was 84. So it is mostly 80-year-olds we are trying to save. That is not an exaggeration.
The superstition part you could say would have been a slight exaggeration originally, but not now. In the beginning it was reasonable to expect that closing schools would have some benefit in reducing COVID spread, since schools are hotbeds for the spread of colds and flu. But by the summer of 2020 we had the data in, and we knew that closing schools had no benefit in reducing spread of COVID to teachers or any other adults in the community. So in the spring of 2020 it was not a mere superstition that closing schools would reduce COVID cases or deaths, but by the fall of 2020 it was. We knew essentially for a fact that closing schools (and having children wear masks in school) had no benefit whatsoever in reducing the spread of COVID, but we continued to close them anyway. How is that better than a superstition?
The PBS NewsHour on October 19 reported that the U.S. Secretary of Education announced a plan to address this explosion of children’s mental health problems by saying we need programs to provide them counseling. “Our students across the country need more support, mental health support, more social-emotional well-being checks. And we are pleased at the Department of Education to be able to respond.” (https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/sec-cardona-on-combating-covids-impact-on-student-mental-health-forgiving-student-loans)
So we decided to break the legs of 5% of children for a superstition that somehow that would reduce COVID deaths in 80-year-olds. And then our government says, “Don’t’ worry. We will pay for the orthopedists and the casts to fix their legs.” So I guess that makes everything OK.