Democrats’ recent retreat from the restrictive COVID-19 policies that defined them for the first two years of the pandemic is largely a byproduct of popular backlash to those policies, suggests the revelation of a newly-unearthed memo from a Democrat consulting firm.
Punchbowl News published a memo dated February 24 by Impact Research advising Democrats to “take credit for ending the COVID crisis phase of the COVID war, point to important victories like vaccine distribution and providing economic stability to Americans, and fully enter the rebuilding phase that comes after any war.”
“Twice as many voters are now more concerned about COVID’s effect on the economy (49%) than about someone in their family or someone they know becoming infected with the coronavirus (24%),” the memo reads. “Two-thirds of parents and 80% of teachers say the pandemic caused learning loss, and voters are overwhelmingly more worried about learning loss than kids getting COVID. Six in 10 Americans describe themselves as ‘worn out’ by the pandemic. The more we talk about the threat of COVID and onerously restrict people’s lives because of it, the more we turn them against us and show them we’re out of touch with their daily realities.”
“Don’t set “COVID zero” as the victory condition. Americans also don’t think victory is COVID Zero,” the document continues. “They think the virus is here to stay, and 83% say the pandemic will be over when it’s a mild illness like the flu rather than COVID being completely gone, and 55% prefer that COVID should be treated as an endemic disease. And that’s what most Americans are dealing with — a disease with fatality rates like the flu — because most of us took the personal responsibility to protect ourselves and our families by getting vaccinated.”
Impact Research calls on Democrats to “recogniz[e] that the threat of COVID is no longer what it was even a year ago and therefore should not be treated as such,” which entails no longer supporting shutdowns, lockdowns, and mask mandates. It suggests citing the availability of the COVID vaccines as the reason they are no longer necessary, and that Democrats should more broadly claim credit for COVID being more manageable.
“If we focus on how bad things still are and how much worse they could get, we set Democrats up as failures unable to navigate us through this,” the memo concludes. “When 99% of Americans can get vaccinated, we cause more harm than we prevent with voters by going into our third year talking about restrictions. And, if Democrats continue to hold a posture that prioritizes COVID precautions over learning how to live in a world where COVID exists, but does not dominate, they risk paying dearly for it in November.”
The Washington Examiner noted that the memo was dated a day before the U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) published new, relaxed COVID-19 guidelines that will dramatically reduce the areas of the country where mask requirements are recommended, by shifting the criteria for the recommendations from transmission rates to hospitalizations. Even so, the Examiner notes that the administration has been slower to back away from COVID restrictions than many state governments.
Only seven states (plus the District of Columbia and several U.S. territories) still have statewide mask mandates. Numerous left-wing figures have claimed that evolving scientific knowledge has justified the change, but critics have suspected that the real deciding factor was internal polling, such as that conducted by New Jersey Democrat Gov. Phil Murphy’s team, indicating that forced masking is deeply unpopular.
Further, evidence suggests that Democrats preferred COVID-19 policies have been either ineffective at saving lives or canceled out by associated harms, starting with lockdowns.
Last March, the left-wing Associated Press admitted that “California and Florida have experienced almost identical outcomes in COVID-19 case rates,” despite the former imposing some of the most draconian lockdown measures in the country and the latter remaining mostly open, and that the mortality gulf between Connecticut and South Dakota was similarly small despite the wide gulf in their approach to lockdowns.
In April 2021, Simon Fraser University economics professor Douglas Allen published a study that concluded that while lockdowns saved 22,333 years’ worth of lost life they also caused 6.3 million years of lost life, making the policy’s net long-term harm 282 times worse than its benefits, thanks to the combined toll of canceled or delayed care for other medical issues, and the psychological harm of lost jobs and social isolation, among other factors.
In October, another study by Marine Baudin, Jérémie Mercier, and Denis Rancourt attributed much of the U.S. COVID death toll to “persistent chronic psychological stress induced by the long-lasting government-imposed societal and economic transformations during the COVID-era [which] converted the existing societal (poverty), public-health (obesity) and hot-climate risk factors into deadly agents.” Most recently, a meta-analysis published in Johns Hopkins University’s Studies in Applied Economics found that “lockdowns have had little to no effect on COVID-19 mortality” but have “imposed enormous economic and social costs where they have been adopted.”
Meanwhile, evidence suggests that masks have played little, if any, role in reducing COVID-19’s spread across the United States, such as the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC’s) September 2020 acknowledgement that masks cannot be counted on to keep out COVID when spending 15 minutes or longer within six feet of someone, or a May 2020 study published by CDC’s peer-reviewed journal Emerging Infectious Diseases that “did not find evidence that surgical-type face masks are effective in reducing laboratory-confirmed influenza transmission, either when worn by infected persons (source control) or by persons in the general community to reduce their susceptibility.”
Last May, another study found that, though mandates effectively increased mask use, that usage did not yield the expected benefits. “Mask mandates and use (were) not associated with lower SARS-CoV-2 spread among U.S. states” from March 2020 to March 2021. In fact, the researchers found the results to be a net negative, with masks increasing “dehydration … headaches and sweating and decreas[ing] cognitive precision,” and interfering with communication, as well as impairing social learning among children.
“The potential educational harms of mandatory-masking policies are much more firmly established, at least at this point, than their possible benefits in stopping the spread of COVID-19 in schools,” University of California-San Francisco epidemiologist professor Vinay Prasad wrote in September. “Early childhood is a crucial period when humans develop cultural, language, and social skills, including the ability to detect emotion on other people’s faces. Social interactions with friends, parents, and caregivers are integral to fostering children’s growth and well-being.”
Finally, data indicates that widespread dissemination of the potentially-harmful, abortion-tainted COVID vaccines are unable to end the pandemic. The federal government considers more than 215 million Americans (65% of the eligible) to be “fully vaccinated” (a moving target given the vaccines’ temporary nature), yet data from Johns Hopkins University reported last October shows that more Americans died of COVID-19 by that point in 2021 (353,000) than in all of 2020 (352,000). The Moderna vaccine has been available throughout all of 2021; the Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson shots were made available in late February.