Justin Hart, chief data analyst and founder of RationalGround.com, in an interview on for EpochTV’s “Crossroads” program on Oct. 12, 2022. (Screenshot/The Epoch Times)
The Epoch Times
Ella Kietlinska and
School closures during the COVID-19 pandemic affected students’ achievements, especially those from low-income households, Hart said.
Wearing masks in schools affected speech development in children. Hart singled out an example. In a school district in California during the spring of 2020, after schools switched to distance learning, one-third of the students did not attend the online classes, he said.
The loss of learning translates to a drastic increase in failing grades and may affect the future earnings of those students, Hart said.
National math test scores in fourth and eighth graders collected in early 2022 showed the biggest drop since 1990, and the reading level for the same students reverted to a level from three decades ago, according to a recent report by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as the “Nation’s Report Card.”
“We are talking about a really serious erosion of children’s capacities to read and count in the next generation of the workforce,” said Beverly Perdue, chair of the governing board for NAEP and former governor of North Carolina, at an Oct. 2 press conference.
A research paper (pdf) commissioned by the World Bank concluded that “online education is an imperfect substitute for in-person learning, particularly for children from low-income families.”
The learning losses due to COVID-19 lockdowns and school closures may also limit opportunities for students to advance to higher levels of education, which may potentially result in losing trillions of dollars in their future income, the paper said.
California Versus Florida
California was locked down so severely that even a swing set in a local park was padlocked for a year, whereas Florida was relatively open from the spring, Hart said. The COVID-19 mortality rate was basically the same in both states after adjusting for age, he said.
“While California used a wide array of restrictive mandates, Florida used a targeted approach that focused on those segments of society more vulnerable to the lethal effects of COVID-19,” said James Doti, president emeritus and professor of economics at Chapman University.
“California’s broad-based use of mandates led to a sharper loss in overall economic activity than Florida’s more targeted approach,” Doti wrote for The Epoch Times. “California lost more jobs than Florida on a relative basis. California’s non-farm job total is still lower than its pre-recession high, while Florida’s is 3 percent higher.”
The raw cumulative COVID-19 death rate through July 2022 was higher in Florida (328 per 100,000 people) than in California (242 per 100,000 people), but it has to be taken into consideration that Florida has an older population with a median age of 43 years, while California is one of the youngest states with a median age of 37, Doti explained.
After the COVID-19 mortality rates are adjusted for these age differences, “California’s age-adjusted death rate of 261 per 100,000 was roughly the same as Florida’s rate of 267 per 100,000,” Doti said.
Moreover, when using age adjustment, California and Florida had the same all-cause excess death rate of 18.8 percent over the whole pandemic period, he added. The excess deaths rate is a percentage of expected deaths over the period of March 2020 to March 2022.
COVID-19 Lockdowns Were Not Effective
The policies to mitigate the spread of coronavirus during the pandemic required people to stay at home and implemented closures of most businesses such as stores, restaurants, gyms, museums, and entertainment services. In some states, parks and beaches were closed.
Such policies that required people stay at home outside of sunlight and incentivized them to eat takeout food went against the known correlation between obesity and severe COVID-19 outcomes, Hart said.
“That was a terrible, terrible policy,” Hart noted. “Our obesity rates here in the United States are very, very high compared to other countries.”
A study conducted in the spring of 2020 by researchers from the University of Bologna in Italy concluded that “obesity is a strong, independent risk factor for respiratory failure, admission to the ICU, and death among COVID-19 patients.”
Even patients with mild obesity had a 2.5 times greater risk of respiratory failure and five times greater risk of being admitted to an intensive care unit than non-obese patients, the study said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report in September 2021 stating that children and teenagers in the United States saw their body mass almost double during the COVID-19 pandemic compared to the pre-pandemic period.
The report suggested that COVID-19 lockdowns and rules may have contributed to the higher-than-usual weight gain.
A lack of vitamin D could also exacerbate the outcome of COVID-19, Hart said.
“Why did we stick people outside the sun?” Hart asked, adding that even policemen chased down paddle boarders in California at that time.
Four large systematic meta-analyses stated that the data consistently show that low vitamin D levels raise the risk of COVID-19 while higher levels lower all risks by 1.5 to three times, wrote Dr. Joseph Mercola, an osteopathic physician, the founder of Mercola.com, and a best-selling author.
“Proper amounts of sun exposure allow your body to optimize production of vitamin D,” Mercola said.
Hart wrote the book “Gone Viral: How COVID Drove the World Insane,” which he meant to be a kind of reference book for people to educate themselves, he said.
“I also want people to use it for their friends, their family, their neighbors, their county supervisors or school board to convince them that we can’t go down this road again,” Hart said.
Hart encourages the public to find like-minded people in their local area, find out who are the people making health policies locally in their county or state, and pressure them to push back on these policies that infringe upon people’s rights.
“It’s really difficult for the vast amount of people to sort of admit that what we did had little to no impact and maybe made things worse,” Hart said. “It’s hard to own up to all the sacrifices we all made with staying at home and keeping our kids in quarantines and masks and whatnot, that it was all for nothing, right? No one wants to admit to that, but that’s the case.”
“We’re not going to be able to make it through the next pandemic unless people wise up as to what’s happening,” Hart concluded.
Terri Wu and Jack Phillips contributed to this report.