NBC chief medical correspondent Dr. John Torres told Today Show viewers this week he wants Covid restrictions to continue “year after year,” because they have helped keep flu cases under control.
“We’re just not seeing the flu, because of the things we’re doing for the pandemic, the washing our hands, the social distancing, the wearing masks, the staying home. Those are important steps of public health that officials for years have been saying we need to do to keep the flu under control. While we’re doing it this year to keep coronavirus under control, it’s helped with the flu…hopefully going forward [we’ll] keep doing the same practices, year after year.”
Torres added that keeping kids out of school is also helping keep flu numbers down because “kids are a big driver of the high numbers of cases we get and they tend to spread them from school to homes and so them being at home certainly helped.”
At no time in the Today Show discussion did Dr. Torres or the panel talk about the collateral health damages of continued government restrictions and lockdowns. It was a one-sided view of lockdowns which failed to give the fuller context of their impact.
This week the New York Times reported that an alarming increase in student suicides has prompted schools in Las Vegas to move quickly to reopen schools for in-person learning. In the Clark County, Nevada school district, 18 students took their lives during the nine months of school closures, which is double the number of students who committed suicide in the district in all of 2019. The youngest child was just nine years old. According to the Times: “One student left a note saying he had nothing to look forward to.”
Kerry McDonald, a senior education fellow at the Foundation for Economic Freedom, cited that New York Times piece in an article she wrote, Youth Depression, Suicide Increasing During Pandemic Response. She notes that as the data on the unintended consequences of pandemic policies becomes gloomier, policy makers are beginning to acknowledge tradeoffs.
In an interview with Americans for Limited Government, McDonald said, “More and more we are seeing collateral damage from these school shutdowns and other pandemic policies which keep us separated from one another, kids out of school, and away from their peers, and keep businesses closed. These policies are increasingly leading to social, emotional, and economic difficulty.”
McDonald said there is an “exodus” of families from public schools as they seek educational alternatives. “There’s been an increase in independent home schooling from just under two million prior to the pandemic and now nearly five million at the end of 2020.”
Michelle Hedrick, a Fairfax County, Virginia mother, took her high school senior out of the shutdown public schools when she saw he wasn’t learning and was suffering from the social isolation. She is outraged at any suggestion of indefinitely continuing Covid restrictions and lockdowns.
“Even the CDC says we need to get our kids back to school,” Hedrick said. “This is about seeing how far the government can control us.”
She was critical of the Today Show’s reporting of the issue. “It is irresponsible for NBC News not to ask the hard questions, like how this is affecting rates of child abuse and suicides among our students. It is a false narrative they are creating to control people.”
McDonald offers these suggestions for families struggling under school shutdowns.
- Recognize their child could be struggling and talk with them and get them the help they need.
- Prioritize peer-to-peer interaction as much as possible, finding ways for children and teens to connect in person.
- Consider alternative education options even if it is just for the short term.
- Continue to push schools to reopen for in-person learning and pressure special interest groups, especially teachers unions, to change their ways.
McDonald concluded, “It is really tragic to see what we have done to children and teens over the past 10 months, keeping them separated from their peers, away from any meaningful learning environment, and from immersion in their larger communities.”
NBC News did its viewers a huge disservice by presenting a one-sided story extoling the benefits of Covid lockdowns in terms of controlling the flu, but without acknowledging the tremendous harm they are doing.
Catherine Mortensen is Vice President of Americans for Limited Government.
Cross-posted with The Daily Torch
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