Upon the hiring of Dr. Scott Atlas by the Trump administration in August of 2020, pro-lockdown leftists and their media allies were predictably apoplectic. President Trump’s selection of an advisor who refused to support COVID-19 restrictions, which Atlas denounced as ineffective and tyrannical, was widely viewed as a harsh rebuke of the medical establishment by the White House.
While politicians and pundits on the left derided Atlas for criticizing the pronouncements of career bureaucrats such as Dr. Anthony Fauci; with some characterizing his perspective on lockdowns and mask mandates as “anti-science blathering,” they haven’t acknowledged an uncomfortable truth.
When assessing the efficacy of lockdowns, school closures, and other pandemic-related restrictions in hindsight, it’s clear Dr. Atlas has been vindicated. Atlas was right, and the media’s favorite figures, who Americans were told to blindly trust for more than a year — namely Dr. Fauci — were catastrophically wrong.
Compare coronavirus cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in states that implemented draconian lockdowns like New York and California to states like Florida and Texas that remained open, and the talking points of the pro-lockdown crowd fall apart. Unfortunately, in an age of social media sensationalism and a stunning lack of intellectual honesty, reality is rarely the most important consideration in these discussions.
Let’s look at the facts. New York and California have a combined population of about 60 million residents; Florida and Texas have roughly 50 million. California and New York have reported over 110,000 deaths due to COVID-19, while Florida and Texas have reported a combined 90,000. These red states, which emphasized individual freedom and prudential risk assessment rather than government intervention, outperformed their Democrat-run counterparts.
Lockdown advocates would call this an oversimplification. But if we compare just Florida and California, the former of which has a higher population density and has a far larger elderly population (two important metrics to consider when assessing a state’s performance during the pandemic), the per capita death in these states is the same. That’s despite Florida allowing its citizens to flourish, while California imposed some of the nation’s strictest shutdowns, with impacts ranging from increased drug overdoses to a reduction in cancer screenings and childhood vaccinations.
Who was ultimately on the right side of this issue? It was Dr. Atlas, who praised Governor Ron DeSantis’ handling of the pandemic in Florida prior to assuming his position in the Trump administration and throughout his time in the White House. And Atlas was among the first to sound the alarm about the devastating impacts of lockdowns.
This came as Dr. Fauci said Florida was “asking for disaster” by lifting pandemic restrictions; despite Florida’s continued decline in cases and hospitalizations following this decision, until the national COVID-19 spike in late 2020. Fauci further singled out New York as a model for how to handle the pandemic, despite the state having a death toll far higher than Florida’s and a governor mired in scandal for sending COVID-19 positive patients into nursing homes.
When the discussion turned to reopening schools nationwide, Dr. Atlas was among the first to raise concerns about the impacts of cutting off children from in-person instruction. Even as the media, teacher’s unions, and those in the medical establishment falsely claimed that opening schools would fuel another wave of coronavirus, Atlas stood strong, noting the material harm of closed schools far outweighed the potential risks of opening them.
Instead of examining the data and reaching the same conclusion, Fauci flip-flopped countless times on the issue. But as it became clear that the proclamations of Fauci, Democrats, teachers unions, and media figures were completely wrong, and that the impacts of school closures were even worse than previously thought, Atlas was once again proven correct.
The same pattern applies to the debate surrounding mask mandates and the ability of vaccines to bring about a return to normalcy. Atlas questioned the effectiveness of governments mandating face masks and critiqued officials like Dr. Fauci who wished to delay the end of the pandemic by claiming that the jury was still out on vaccine efficacy. But the numbers are in, and Dr. Atlas was right again.
It’s obvious that those in the pro-lockdown crowd — led by Dr. Fauci — need to eat some humble pie and accept that their predictions were almost always wrong. And while they may be reluctant to accept that “right-wing conspiracy theorist” Scott Atlas was correct; facts are stubborn things. Dr. Atlas has been vindicated.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.