The results of lockdowns “has been the destruction of tens of millions of lives throughout America in addition to elevated deaths from suicide, substance abuse and despair with none corresponding profit in covid mortality.”
For months, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has boasted about his state’s “open for enterprise” technique in coping with covid-19 and the way it’s working higher than so-called lockdown states.
In contrast to in another states, all Florida public colleges are open for in-person studying, eating places and bars have few restrictions, and the state has barred native governments from penalizing people for not sporting a masks in public.
In a current rant towards social community corporations corresponding to Fb and Twitter, DeSantis advised that states that had instituted heavy restrictions on residents skilled extreme repercussions for residents with out decreasing the variety of covid deaths.
“Lockdowns on the time of the pandemic have been favored by the, quote, ‘narrative’ and so, within the identify of, quote, ‘science,’ articles and posts warning towards lockdowns have been taken down and censored,” mentioned DeSantis. “The end result has been the destruction of tens of millions of lives throughout America, in addition to elevated deaths from suicide, substance abuse and despair, with none corresponding profit in covid mortality.”
We puzzled whether or not that was true. Have state restrictions completed such vital hurt with out offering any increase within the combat towards covid deaths? So we dug in.
Locking In on Lockdowns
To cut back the unfold of the coronavirus, states have enacted — after which generally relaxed or lifted — varied restrictions, together with masks mandates, limits on restaurant capability, stay-at-home orders and bans on massive gatherings.
DeSantis, a Republican, has bristled at such statewide orders, even resisting pleas from native officers in Florida and criticizing different jurisdictions for implementing them. He has constantly questioned their effectiveness. Late final yr, as an illustration, he claimed that states with lockdowns had covid transmission charges twice as excessive as Florida’s. We rated that Half True.
We requested DeSantis’ workplace for any proof supporting his more moderen declare. The response reveals a blended bag of knowledge.
Examine the Information: Did Florida’s Path Result in Much less ‘Despair’?
To assist the governor’s declare that different states have seen greater numbers of deaths from suicide, substance abuse and despair than Florida has throughout the pandemic, DeSantis’ workplace despatched info from the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention exhibiting “all trigger” mortality charges elevated slower in Florida in 2020 — coinciding with the pandemic’s first months via June 3 — over 2019 charges than in California and New York — two states which have opted for extra laws on public gatherings and mask-wearing. DeSantis’ evaluation confirmed Florida’s price rose 15% in contrast with 16% in California and 29% in New York.
However the “all causes” category goes far past deaths related to suicide and drug abuse. It contains deaths from most cancers, coronary heart illness, lung illness and dementia, for instance.
DeSantis’ workplace didn’t present any knowledge exhibiting how charges of suicide and drug abuse in Florida in contrast with these in so-called lockdown states. It despatched us a Miami Herald article that mentioned in Florida, based on preliminary medical experts’ statistics, 2,975 individuals died by suicide in 2020, down 13% from the earlier yr. However the article didn’t have nationwide knowledge or figures from California or New York.
Regarding overdose deaths, DeSantis’ workplace didn’t present particular info. Nonetheless, well being consultants mentioned the pandemic doubtless did improve opioid overdoses. However the newest, provisional CDC data on drug overdose deaths exhibits Florida’s numbers rising quicker than the nationwide common.
Evaluating the 12-month interval ending in June 2020 to the prior 12 months, the interval for which knowledge is on the market, Florida had a 34% improve within the price of overdose deaths in contrast with a 20% nationwide common amongst states. California had a 23% improve and New York had an 18% improve.
In the meantime, federal suicide knowledge reflecting the months by which the pandemic has transpired won’t doubtless be accessible till 2022. Consultants say that anecdotal proof suggests a attainable uptick in suicide charges throughout the pandemic. As well as, a web-based instrument supplied by the nonprofit Mental Health America to assist display for psychological well being points confirmed a slight improve final yr in individuals having suicidal ideas.
Nonetheless, Paul Gionfriddo, the group’s CEO, mentioned he is aware of of no research exhibiting that so-called lockdown states have greater charges of suicide than these with fewer restrictions.
Gionfriddo mentioned DeSantis might imagine he’s mitigating the dangerous results of loneliness by not limiting public gatherings. However loneliness is just not the one motive individuals cite in contemplating suicide, he mentioned. Grief, monetary insecurity and different elements additionally play a task, he mentioned.
John Auerbach, president and CEO of Belief for America’s Well being, a nonprofit assume tank, mentioned it’s tough to pinpoint the psychological influence of restrictions to cut back an infection as a result of guidelines range by state and inside states, and such laws have been imposed and lifted at completely different instances.
Auerbach mentioned he is aware of of no proof that hyperlinks states’ covid restrictions to suicides or drug overdose deaths.
“There are a lot of contributing elements to suicide and drug overdoses,” he mentioned. The pandemic itself is having the most important impact on heightening individuals’s threat of dying from suicide and drug abuse — not the states’ completely different approaches to stop the transmission of an infection, he added.
“It’s the underlying pandemic that’s on the root of elevated dangers,” Auerbach mentioned.
Factoring In Covid Mortality Charges
DeSantis additionally argued that statewide restrictions didn’t convey any corresponding profit in limiting covid mortality.
We requested his workplace for proof. They once more pointed to the CDC improve in “all trigger” mortality knowledge that confirmed California’s price was barely greater than Florida’s. However these statistics cowl all causes of dying, and persons are nonetheless dying of ailments and circumstances in addition to covid.
We then consulted three epidemiologists to get their take. All of them mentioned the governor was taking part in free with the info. They careworn various elements that have an effect on states’ mortality charges — from the climate to socioeconomic indicators to entry to well being companies.
The epidemiologists pointed to the most recent CDC knowledge, which indicated that Florida’s covid mortality price is greater than California’s and appeared to undercut DeSantis’ place that lockdowns have solely damage states.
As of Feb. 22, Florida ranked twenty eighth in covid dying charges whereas California ranked thirty third, based on the most recent CDC data, as compiled by Statista.
“That may bolster the argument that restrictions are one issue concerned in decreasing dying charges,” mentioned Nicole Gatto, an affiliate professor of public well being at Claremont Graduate College in California.
Quite a few others additionally have an impact, Gatto mentioned, so it’s unattainable to match states utilizing present knowledge based mostly on their methods.
“I do assume it’s an oversimplification to make the assertion that the governor did with out additional research of the quite a few variables concerned, traits of the inhabitants, timing of interventions and the constraints of the information,” she mentioned.
DeSantis mentioned lockdown states have seen “elevated deaths from suicide, substance abuse and despair with none corresponding profit in covid mortality.”
The pandemic actually has induced anxiousness and misery throughout the nation, and state and native restrictions designed to tamp down on the coronavirus’s unfold have additionally affected individuals’s monetary and emotional well-being. However at the moment, no clear knowledge helps DeSantis’ strongly worded declare. Researchers agreed that extra analysis is important earlier than such broad conclusions may very well be drawn. As well as, consultants mentioned that covid dying charges range by state and quite a few elements past state methods to fight the virus have an effect on this metric.
We price the assertion Largely False.
Gov. Ron DeSantis news conference, Feb. 2, 2021
Phone interview with Paul Gionfriddo, president and CEO of Psychological Well being America, Feb. 12, 2021
Mental Health America, Take a Psychological Well being Take a look at, Psychological Well being America on-line screening instrument, accessed Feb. 12, 2021
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Important Statistics Speedy Launch: Provisional Drug Overdose Demise Counts — CDC knowledge on overdose deaths, Feb. 7, 2021
E mail correspondence with Meredith Beatrice, DeSantis spokesperson, Feb. 10 and 11, 2021
Phone interview with John Auerbach, president and CEO of Belief for America’s Well being, Feb. 12, 2021
E mail interview with Nicole Gatto, MPH, Ph.D., affiliate professor of public well being at Claremont Graduate College, Feb. 18, 2021
E mail interview with William Miller, professor of epidemiology on the Ohio State College, Feb. 18, 2021
Phone interview with Dr. Robert Murphy, professor of medication and biomedical engineering and government director, Northwestern College’s Institute for World Well being, Feb. 18, 2021
Statista, Demise charges from coronavirus (COVID-19) in america as of Feb. 17, 2021, by state, accessed Feb. 22, 2021
Miami Herald, “One Pandemic Constructive: Suicides in Florida Really Plummeted. Consultants Fear It Received’t Final,” Feb. 10, 2021
PolitiFact, “Is Florida Doing Higher on COVID-19 than ‘Locked Down’ States? Dec. 2, 2020