Tucker Carlson says there’s no ‘evidence’ coronavirus lockdowns work — but he’s totally wrong
Tucker Carlson is among the far-right opinion hosts at Fox News who has been critical of the stay-at-home orders issued by governors in the United States in response to the coronavirus pandemic. This week, the host of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” told viewers: “There is, as of tonight, precisely no evidence that the lockdowns in America saved lives anywhere.”
But in fact, a newly released study from Philadelphia’s Drexel University finds that shelter-in-place orders have likely saved more than 232,000 lives in the United States.
The study was conducted by the Urban Health Collaborative at Drexel’s Dornsife School of Public Health and examined the 30 latest metropolitan areas in the United States. Mother Jones’ Laura Thompson, reporting on the study, notes that according to the Dornsife researchers, “shelter-in-place orders” in those areas “likely saved 232,878 lives and prevented 2.1 million hospitalizations.”
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New York City has had more coronavirus-related deaths than any other U.S. city, but according to the Drexel study, NYC’s death rate could have been much worse without aggressive stay-at-home and social distancing measures.
“In New York City, the epicenter of the pandemic, nearly 25,000 lives were saved in 45 days of stay-at-home,” Thompson says of the study. “By the end of this month, the researchers estimate that New York will have avoided more than 30,000 COVID-19 deaths and nearly 300,000 hospitalizations.”
The Dornsife School reports that stay-at-home orders in other cities, after 45 days, saved 39,613 lives (Los Angeles), 10,635 lives (Chicago), 6202 lives (Philadelphia), 2032 lives (Boston) or 8819 lives (Seattle).
Jennifer Kolker, the Dornsife School’s associate dean for public health practice, told The Hill, “What we really wanted to do was to say this matters. Doing nothing is, in fact, doing something. We really wanted to give city leaders the opportunity to say to their residents and their jurisdictions, ‘Hey folks, look what you did, you saved lives. You kept people out of the hospital.’”
Other evidence and research has also strongly supported the idea that lockdowns have reduced the spread of the virus and saved lives.
While the Dornsife School’s research focused on the United States, an article by Francesco Piccinelli and Cornelius Hirsch for Politico analyzes the effect that stay-at-home orders have had in various European countries — from the U.K. to Spain, Italy, the Czech Republic and Germany. Piccinelli and Hirsch note that countries that implemented stay-at-home orders sooner rather than later did the most to reduce the number of coronavirus-related deaths and infections.
Piccinelli and Hirsch explain, “Governments that banned non-essential internal movement before the third confirmed death from COVID-19 occurred saw the growth in the number of new coronavirus cases slow down two weeks later…. The lockdowns have been effective at slowing transmission of the virus, but without a vaccine or (effective) treatment options, confinement is the only tool policymakers have.”