The Power Hour

It's All About The Truth

Today’s News: May 18, 2020

World News

Beijing Dismisses ‘Premature’ Call for Inquiry into Chinese Coronavirus Origins

Breitbart – China’s foreign ministry on Monday dismissed as “premature” growing calls an independent investigation into the origins and spread of the deadly Chinese coronavirus, as a coalition of nations prepare to canvas the possibility at this week’s World Health Assembly (WHA).

Spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters during a daily briefing that despite the infection killing more than 300,000 people globally, the “vast majority” of countries do not yet think the pandemic is over, according to Reuters. As such, he argued it is too soon to entertain any line of inquiry.

Hong Kong Legislators Brawl Amid Fears Over Widening Chinese Control

CNN – There were scuffles in Hong Kong’s parliament Monday as lawmakers fought for control of a key committee chair.

Pro-Beijing and pro-democracy politicians have been arguing for weeks over the House Committee, which controls what bills are discussed by the semi-elected body. On Monday, they were due to elect a new chairman, with lawmakers who support the government expected to take control, clearing the path for a number of controversial bills — including one making it a crime to insult the Chinese national anthem.

The meeting quickly dissolved into acrimony and scuffles, as lawmakers arrived to find a pro-Beijing politician, Chan Kin-por, sitting in the chairperson’s seat, according to Hong Kong’s public broadcaster, RTHK.

A number of lawmakers were ejected from the chamber after scuffles with their colleagues and Legislative Council security guards, who pro-democracy members accused of having lost their impartiality.

UN Human Rights Chief Tries to Scare Countries Into Continuing Lockdowns

The New American – The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights is suggesting that the draconian lockdowns most countries have enforced on their citizens during the COVID-19 pandemic might need to be extended to avoid a disastrous “second wave” of the virus.

Human Rights chief Michelle Bachelet, a socialist and the former president of Chile, issued the warning on Thursday. Bachelet claimed that the disastrous economic effects of the COVID-19 lockdowns are a small price to pay when you consider the possible alternative.

“If an affected country comes out of lock-down too hastily, there is a danger that a second wave, costing many more lives, will be triggered sooner and more destructively than would otherwise be the case,” Bachelet said.

“If the reopening of societies is mishandled, all the huge sacrifices made during the initial #lockdown will have been for nothing. Letting politics or economics drive the #COVID-19 response at the expense of health and #HumanRights will cost lives.”

Bachelet, who was trained as a physician, suggested that plans to re-open economies are being driven by a “particular elite” and that the predicted disastrous results of re-opening too soon will fall hardest on “vulnerable” people.

“If their response is based on the interests of a particular elite — causing the disease to flare up again in other less privileged or marginalized communities — it will rebound on everyone,” Bachlet told reporters in Geneva.

Bachelet must not watch much television or go on the Internet. In America at least, re-openings are clearly being driven by unhappy citizens who want to go back to work and start their lives again — not by any “elites.” In fact, it seems like many elites — globalist health organizations, Democrat-controlled states and the mainstream media, for example — are the ones pressing to continue these authoritarian lockdowns.

U.S. News, Politics & Government

Sheriff Mack Calls on Sheriffs: America Has Become A Catastrophe, We Need Action! 

Activist Post – We are living in unprecedented times as millions, if not billions of people’s lives have been turned upside down in response to a declared emergency. But where do we draw the line between people’s rights and security?

Benjamin Franklin once said: “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

In this powerful interview Spiro is joined by highly respected and highly decorated Sheriff Richard Mack to discuss how America now resembles Nazi Germany as the state governments are taking full advantage of the declared health emergency to infringe upon people’s rights in the name of protecting them.

Sheriff Richard Mack is a staunch supporter of the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights and calls on Sheriffs and Law Enforcement across the country to uphold their sworn oaths to the Constitution and to reject tyranny in all forms.

Constitutional Sheriffs & Peace Officers Association:

https://cspoa.org

McHenry County sheriff: No ‘capacity or desire’ to enforce the governor’s orders

Daily Herald – The McHenry County sheriff’s office has no plan to enforce the Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order as a criminal offense, Sheriff Bill Prim announced in a Facebook post Saturday.

Prim cited a quote from the governor from May 6, where Pritzker said that “at the state level, we don’t have the capacity or desire to police individual behavior of 12.7 million people.”

“We too, do not have the capacity or desire to enforce the Governor’s orders,” Prim said.

Instead, Prim said, the sheriff’s office encourages McHenry County residents to self-monitor and voluntarily comply with the orders.

“It is our duty to ensure the safety of all citizens within McHenry County is our priority,” Prim said.

“With the Governor’s order, voluntary compliance is important in moving forward on the road to a revitalized and restored community. The community’s safety and well-being, mentally and physically, are of the utmost concern.”

Earlier this week, the Kane County sheriff’s office also said they would not take enforcement action against anyone, or any entities, for violating the executive order without a judicial order.

More than a dozen USS Theodore Roosevelt sailors test positive for coronavirus a second time

Fox – At least 13 sailors serving aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt have tested positive for coronavirus a second time, according to reports.

An unnamed Navy official confirmed Saturday that eight additional sailors serving aboard the aircraft carrier docked in Guam have become infected again after recovering from COVID-19, The Associated Press reported. The Navy official was not authorized to speak publicly and requested anonymity.

In a statement Friday, the Navy had announced five had tested positive a second time.

All 13 sailors have again been removed from the ship and are in isolation at the U.S. Naval Base Guam, Politico reported.

Another sailor was removed from the ship after being diagnosed with tuberculosis, a bacterial infection that affects the lungs and involves similar symptoms to COVID-19, such as coughing, fever and difficulty breathing.

FDA suspends Gates-backed at-home COVID-19 testing program

Reuters – An at-home coronavirus testing project in Seattle backed in part by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said on Saturday it was working with U.S. regulators to resume the program after being suspended by the Food and Drug Administration.

The Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network (SCAN), which aims to monitor the spread of the novel coronavirus in the region, had said it was suspending its testing of patient samples collected at home after the Food and Drug Administration tightened guidelines to require emergency approval first.

“The FDA has not raised any concerns regarding the safety and accuracy of SCAN’s test, but we have been asked to pause testing until we receive that additional authorization,” SCAN said.

TSA To Check Passengers’ Temperature At Airports

ZeroHedge – The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) will be checking passengers’ temperatures at select airports next week.

People familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal that additional details would be unveiled in the near term. The program is expected to roll out at 12 airports next week and will cost $20 million to implement. Thermal check fees will be waived for travelers and likely expensed to the federal government.

TSA agents will use handheld thermal devices and thermal sensors mounted on tripods to flag travelers if they register over 100.4 degrees Fahrenhe

This comes at a time when demand for air travel has crashed by over 90%. A combination of travel restrictions and shifting consumer choices have resulted in one of the worst collapses for the industry on record. The move to increase safety checks is a bid to reopen the industry that might not see a recovery until 2024.

Sources also said TSA’s managing of thermal checks does not fall within its security mandate. At this time, the source said details are limited.

An administration official said a thermal check pilot program was conducted at Washington Dulles International Airport in April.

TOP CDC OFFICIAL: ‘WE’LL JUST GET RID OF ALL WHITES IN THE UNITED STATES’ WHO REFUSE VACCINES

Infowars – A top Center for Disease Control official was caught on tape in 2016 saying that society should “get rid of of all the whites in the United States” to reduce the number of people who refuse vaccines.

Dr. Carol Baker made the alarming remarks during the “Achieving Childhood Vaccine Success in the U.S.” panel discussion sponsored by the National Meningitis Association in New York City on May 9, 2016.

“So I have the solution. Every study published in the last five years, when you look at vaccine refusers,” Baker told the panel. “I’m not talking about…hesitance, most of them we can talk into coming to terms. But refusers. We’ll just get rid of all the whites in the United States…Guess who wants to get vaccinated the most? Immigrants.”

China used air travel to ‘seed’ virus in early stage, top WH official says

Fox – Peter Navarro, the White House trade adviser, said in an interview Sunday suggested that China “sent hundreds of thousands” on aircraft throughout the world to “seed” the spread of the virus.

Navarro told ABC News’ “This Week” that the “Chinese—behind the shield of the World Health Organization—for two months hid the virus from the world and then sent hundreds of thousands of Chinese on aircraft to Milan, New York and around the world to seed that. They could have kept it in Wuhan, but instead, it became a pandemic.”

Protests may have spread widely, cellphone data suggests

The Guardian – Cellphone location data suggests that demonstrators at anti-lockdown protests – some of which have been connected with Covid-19 cases – are often traveling hundreds of miles to events, returning to all parts of their states, and even crossing into neighboring ones.

Police Threatening Jail and $1,000 Fines For Church Holding DRIVE-IN Services

Activist Post – The Rutherford Institute has warned that it will consider filing a First Amendment lawsuit if police continue to threaten a New York church with prosecution and $1000 fines for holding drive-in worship services that adhere to social distancing guidelines.

In a legal letter to the Chief of Police for the Town of Massena, NY, Rutherford Institute attorneys point out that while federal and state governments have adopted specific restrictive measures in an effort to decelerate the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the current public health situation has not resulted in the suspension of fundamental constitutional rights such as religious freedom, freedom of speech and the right of assembly.

Dozens of churchgoers defy Illinois’ coronavirus stay-at-home order, Chicago mayor to issue citations

Fox – Churchgoers in Chicago could face citations for attending in-person services on Sunday, according to the mayor’s office.

Dozens of churches across the country, including a handful in Illinois, participated in “Peaceably Gather Sunday,” organized by Kentucky pastor Brian Gibson, which sought to defy states’ coronavirus stay-at-home orders. In Illinois, Gov. J.B. Pritzker‘s order doesn’t allow more than 10 people at a place of worship.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the city was prepared to enforce the orders against houses of worship that hold in-person services, and though Chicago police said there were no arrests made or citations issued Sunday, that could change in the coming days, the Chicago Tribune reports.

Navarro: Pelosi Lost Me When ‘She Has $1,200 Checks for Illegal Immigrants’ in Pandemic Stimulus

Breitbart – Sunday on ABC’s “This Week,” White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) basically lost him with the next coronavirus stimulus bill with the inclusion of “$1,200 checks for illegal immigrants.”

Navarro said, “So, Nancy Pelosi basically lost me with that package when she has $1,200 checks for illegal immigrants, and it just goes downhill from there. What we have to do, George, is basically go with the fiscal and monetary stimulus that we have been going through. We have a lot of coursing through the system now. We may need more. I’ll let others above my pay grade negotiate that. What I’m focused on George, and this is the real key to success is going to be the structural adjustments we are going to have to make. For every service sector job, we might lose as we adjust to this China virus, we will have to replace that with manufacturing jobs, which do have a high multiplier in terms of creating service sector jobs again. So what I’m focused on with President Trump is a buy America, deregulate, innovate agenda, which will start with bringing our pharma supplies chains homes, bringing our medical supplies chains home. Build it here. Both good economics, but also good national security.”

FBI finds evidence linking al Qaeda to 2019 Saudi shooter at Florida naval base: U.S. source

Reuters – The FBI has found cellphone evidence linking al Qaeda to the Royal Saudi Air Force trainee who killed three American sailors and wounded eight people in a December shooting spree at a U.S. naval base in Florida, a federal law enforcement source said on Monday.

The shooter, Second Lieutenant Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, 21, was killed by law enforcement during the Dec. 6, 2019 attack.

He was on the base as part of a U.S. Navy training program designed to foster links with foreign allies.

Since then, the Justice Department has been working to try and unlock the encryption on the shooter’s phone to get a better sense of his motives and whether he had connections to known terrorist groups.

In February, an audio recording purporting to be from the Islamist militant group al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) claimed responsibility for the fatal attack, but it provided no evidence.

Prior to the shooting spree, the shooter also posted criticism of U.S. wars and quoted slain al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden on social media.

The Justice Department has also previously said that Alshamrani visited the New York City memorial to the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States – carried out by Saudi hijackers for the Islamist militant group al Qaeda – and posted anti-American, anti-Israeli and jihadi messages on social media, including two hours before the attack.

Texas prepares for pandemic first: Jury trial by ZOOM

Reuters – With jury trials on hold throughout the United States because of the coronavirus pandemic, court officials in Texas are preparing to try something new: let jurors hear a case through Zoom.

Lawyers in an insurance dispute in Collin County District Court on Monday will present their case by videoconference, in what officials believe will be the first virtual jury trial to be held nationally amid the COVID-19 crisis.

The one-day trial, which will be streamed live on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/c/JudgeEmilyMiskel, is a so-called summary jury trial, in which jurors hear a condensed version of a case and deliver a non-binding verdict.

The parties, having seen how their case could fare before a jury in a full-blown trial, will then the next day sit for mediation and try to negotiate a settlement.

Officials say the abbreviated format and non-binding verdict make it ideal to test the viability of holding jury trials remotely, as they grapple with the more daunting challenge of how to conduct them safely in person during the pandemic.

“You can’t drag people down to the courthouse and make them sit together for days at a time,” Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan Hecht said in an interview. “It’s just too dangerous.”

Courts throughout the country have since March curtailed operations and limited in-person court hearings as states adopted stay-at-home orders and ordered businesses closed to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

In 39 states and the District of Columbia, court systems on a statewide basis directed or encouraged judges to conduct hearings remotely by phone or videoconference, according to the National Center for State Courts.

Feds Buy Riot Gear, Increase Security Funding, Citing Pandemic

The federal government has ramped up security and police-related spending in response to the coronavirus pandemic, including issuing contracts for riot gear, disclosures show.

The purchase orders include requests for disposable cuffs, gas masks, ballistic helmets, and riot gloves, along with law enforcement protective equipment for federal police assigned to protect Veterans Affairs facilities. The orders were expedited under a special authorization “in response to Covid-19 outbreak.”

The Veterans Affairs department, which manages nearly 1,500 health care care facilities around the country, has also extended special contracts for coronavirus-related security services.

Redcon Solutions Group, a private security company founded by Iraq War veterans, has won over $1.6 million in contracts to provide guards for “Covid-19 screening security guard services.” Similar contracts have gone out to private security firms to guard VA facilities in San Francisco, Des Moines, and Fayetteville, among others.

The increased security contracts appeared shortly after a recent Inspector General report noted an increase in absenteeism among VA employees and shortages among VA police. The IG report noted that there is “additional strain caused by the need for additional police presence for COVID-19-related screenings” of veterans at all VA health facilities and recommended the hiring of contract security services.

The VA police, as The Intercept previously reported, was not armed until 2011, when the Pentagon began providing military equipment to police forces around the country.

100,000 crew members still remain trapped at sea on cruise ships

Miami Herald – In the avenue of ocean that stretches south from Miami to Cuba and northeast to the Bahamas, dozens of cruise ships sail back and forth. Every so often, they come into Florida ports to refuel and restock. Otherwise, they wait.

The crew members on board — many no longer receiving paychecks — wait for news about when they will return home and see their families again. Two months after the cruise industry shut down amid repeated COVID-19 outbreaks on ships, more than 100,000 crew members remain trapped at sea with little reliable information about what will happen to them.

While most passengers were able to get off cruise ships by early April, crew members have largely remained stuck. During the prolonged isolation, the virus continued to spread through the ships. At least 578 crew contracted COVID-19 at sea and seven have died, according to a Herald analysis.

New York Changes COVID-19 Methodology to Undercount Nursing-home Deaths

The New American – The state of New York quietly changed the way it counts COVID-19 deaths among nursing-home residents in early May, possibly in a bid to hide the devastation wreaked by Governor Andrew Cuomo’s executive order forcing homes to accept patients who tested positive for the virus.

According to the Daily Caller’s Andrew Kerr, the New York State Department of Health (NYSDOH) initially counted residents of long-term care facilities who died of COVID-19 in hospitals among its tally of long-term care coronavirus deaths. Around May 3, the department made a small but significant change to its methodology. It now counts only those residents who actually die in long-term care facilities, not those who die in the hospital.

NYSDOH spokeswoman Jill Montag told Kerr the change in methodology was made “in order to maintain consistency and reliability in the data as presented, and to avoid any potential for double-counting.”

However, Kerr pointed out, “the reporting change has, in fact, resulted in inconsistencies.” On April 28, New York reported that 644 adult-care residents had died of COVID-19 either at the care facility or in the hospital. Sixteen days later, by which time the state had stopped including hospital deaths in its counts, it was reporting just 165 COVID-19 deaths among adult-care residents.

Economy & Business

U.S. mulls paying companies, tax breaks to pull supply chains from China

Reuters – U.S. lawmakers and officials are crafting proposals to push American companies to move operations or key suppliers out of China that include tax breaks, new rules, and carefully structured subsidies.

Interviews with a dozen current and former government officials, industry executives and members of Congress show widespread discussions underway – including the idea of a “reshoring fund” originally stocked with $25 billion – to encourage U.S. companies to drastically revamp their relationship with China.

President Donald Trump has long pledged to bring manufacturing back from overseas, but the recent spread of the coronavirus and related concerns about U.S. medical and food supply chains dependency on China are “turbocharging” new enthusiasm for the idea in the White House.

On Thursday, Trump signed an executive order that gave a U.S. overseas investment agency new powers to help manufacturers in the United States. The goal, Trump said, is to “produce everything America needs for ourselves and then export to the world, and that includes medicines.”

But the Trump administration itself remains divided over how best to proceed, and the issue is unlikely to be addressed in the next fiscal stimulus to offset the coronavirus downturn. Congress has begun work on another fiscal stimulus package but it remains unclear when it might pass.

Gold Climbs to 7-Year High

Bloomberg – Gold futures fell from a four-week high as a promising study for an experimental coronavirus vaccine curbed demand for the metal as a haven.

Moderna Inc. said its vaccine tests yielded signs it can create an immune-system response in the body. Bullion gained as much as 1.1% earlier after Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell warned in comments aired Sunday that the U.S. economic recovery could stretch through until the end of next year and depend on the delivery of a vaccine.

“Gold prices shed some gains, reflecting some reversal of safe-haven flows amid hopes of a vaccine,” Daniel Ghali, a TD Securities analyst, said in an emailed message. “Inasmuch as a vaccine is the ultimate remedy for the economic problems that lie ahead, it would negate the need for a prolonged period in which the Fed and other central banks would provide unprecedented amounts of stimulus.”

Report: Tesla plans to build a new car factory in Texas

Ars Technica – Elon Musk’s recent clashes with officials in Alameda County, home of Tesla’s Fremont factory, may have given him a heightened sense of urgency to find Tesla’s next US factory. On Friday, several news outlets reported that Tesla was narrowing in on a new location to build the Model Y crossover and Tesla’s forthcoming Cybertruck.

The reports started with Electrek, a pro-Tesla site whose co-founder Fred Lambert has good connections inside the company. Just before 3pm Eastern time, Lambert reported that Tesla had settled on Austin, Texas as the site of its next factory.

“We are told that the decision for the site is not set in stone since Tesla was apparently given a few options in the greater Austin area,” Lambert wrote. “But Musk is said to want to start construction extremely soon and aims to have Model Y vehicles coming out of the plant by the end of the year.”

Energy & Environment

Tornado touchdowns, widespread flooding in Chicago area as storm system brings ‘very heavy rain’

Fox – Two brief tornado touchdowns, flash flooding that closed roadways, and river flooding that forced officials to reverse the flow of the Chicago River were among the impacts from a powerful storm system that slammed the region on Sunday.

Science & Technology

Bill Gates Foundation Set to Finance South Korean Telecom Operator’s Research to Root Out Pandemics

Sputnik – A flu research programme earlier launched by Bill Gates reportedly detected the first coronavirus case in the US back in February, but was recently suspended by the FDA for checks to be carried out into the algorithms used.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is eyeing a hefty $6 billion investment in South Korean telecommunications operator KT’s research on infectious disease control and pandemic prevention over the next three years, Seoul-based Dong-a Ilbo reported, adding the tech mogul has recently applauded South Korea’s headway in curbing the spread of the coronavirus.

As per the South Korean telecoms carrier, it has over the past month been conducting surveys into next-generation quarantine prevention methods to better contain the spread of global diseases, with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation aiming to join efforts with KT to develop an early diagnosis algorithm for contagious diseases and a spread path prediction model that would be based on top-notch AI technology and a variety of communications data.

“The use of mobile technology and sensors paired with smart data analysis can help address some of the challenges countries face in timely and effective response to disease outbreaks”, Andrew Trister, deputy director of the global health programme at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, praised the project.

The Foundation will reportedly pay half the cost of the research project in yearly installments.

Health

Face Masks Pose Serious Risks to the Healthy

Dr. Russell Blaylock – “By wearing a mask, the exhaled viruses will not be able to escape and will concentrate in the nasal passages, enter the olfactory nerves and travel into the brain.” — Russell Blaylock, MD

Researchers found that about a third of the workers developed headaches with use of the mask, most had preexisting headaches that were worsened by the mask wearing, and 60% required pain medications for relief. As to the cause of the headaches, while straps and pressure from the mask could be causative, the bulk of the evidence points toward hypoxia and/or hypercapnia as the cause. That is, a reduction in blood oxygenation (hypoxia) or an elevation in blood C02 (hypercapnia).

It is known that the N95 mask, if worn for hours, can reduce blood oxygenation as much as 20%, which can lead to a loss of consciousness, as happened to the hapless fellow driving around alone in his car wearing an N95 mask, causing him to pass out, and to crash his car and sustain injuries. I am sure that we have several cases of elderly individuals or any person with poor lung function passing out, hitting their head. This, of course, can lead to death.

A more recent study involving 159 healthcare workers aged 21 to 35 years of age found that 81% developed headaches from wearing a face mask.   Some had pre-existing headaches that were precipitated by the masks. All felt like the headaches affected their work performance.

Unfortunately, no one is telling the frail elderly and those with lung diseases, such as COPD, emphysema or pulmonary fibrosis, of these dangers when wearing a facial mask of any kind—which can cause a severe worsening of lung function. This also includes lung cancer patients and people having had lung surgery, especially with partial resection or even the removal of a whole lung.

ICU doctor says “unique cytokine storm” is the real cause behind coronavirus deaths

NaturalNews – While the vast majority of people who contract the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) seem to show minimal, if any, symptoms, there is that much smaller percentage of more serious cases that is wreaking havoc at hospital intensive care units (ICUs).

This is the claim of Alex Hakim, an ICU doctor who says that there is still no clear pattern as to how the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) behaves in people who develop the worst forms of illness from it, other than that it prompts a “unique cytokine storm” that causes a patient’s immune system to overreact and basically induce death.

In a normal scenario, doctors would have already begun to identify signs of what to look for and determine how long a patient might have to remain bedridden. But with the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19), many of the most serious cases are having to stay admitted indefinitely, clogging up the system.

“With COVID-19, it is like that clichéd scene in the movies where the scientist looks up from the microscope and says, ‘This doesn’t seem to behave like anything I’ve ever seen before,’” Hakim writes for The Federalist.

“This thing seems to cause the most damage between people who are in close contact: roommates, cell mates, parents with their adult children, nursing home neighbors, doctors in close proximity to an infected individual’s mouth, etc.,” he adds. “It feels like you can trace the spread in front of you because it’s so contagious. We never usually see that.”

State Lockdowns Are Creating a Mental Health Disaster

NaturalBlaze – Although state lockdowns have served governors well as a heavy-handed show of force, the policies are a patent neglect of the many nuances inherent in human action. They have led to a host of unintended consequences, including the emergence of a new health crisis—a dangerously sharp rise in mental illness. Though states are gradually wading out of lockdown, the damage has already been done and is here to stay.

Distress and Disorder

The science is clear that having meaningful human interactions is an inherent, biological need that all people share. But in the name of “public health,” people are prohibited from freely and peaceably congregating. There’s no church, no “nonessential” shopping, no going into work (for many), no girls’ nights out, no going to the gym, no visiting friends, no family get-togethers. Nothing. No sacrifice can be too great in the age of COVID per the “experts.” And that’s taken a harsh psychological toll on the nation.

Extensive study has, for years, correlated social isolation with poor mental health. The need for connection is as real now as it’s ever been. Since the US had already long suffered from a loneliness crisis, the stark and sudden crop up of stay-at-home orders made this immediately much worse. As Drs. Betty Pfefferbaum and Carol North found,

A recent review of psychological sequelae in samples of quarantined people and of health care providers…revealed numerous emotional outcomes, including stress, depression, irritability, insomnia, fear, confusion, anger, frustration, boredom, and stigma associated with quarantine, some of which persisted after the quarantine was lifted.

Being whisked from normal life into the repressive conditions of lockdowns is understandably damaging. The anguish people are feeling is at astronomical levels. Schoolchilden recently surveyed in Wuhan and Huangshi during stay-at-home orders reported symptoms of depression and anxiety at a rate far higher than normal.

The same seems to be holding true for the general US population. The Crisis Text Line—a free service providing crisis counseling over SMS—has reported a 40 percent increase in recent volume, averaging over 100,000 text conversations each month. In a Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) poll from the end of March, 47 percent of respondents under stay-at-home orders reported that COVID-related stress had negatively impacted their mental health, compared to 37 percent of respondents not facing such orders. Twenty-one percent of stay-at-homers described that impact as “major,” compared to 13 percent those not locked down. Statistically speaking, that’s quite a significant gap, especially when scaled to a population of 330 million. Though there has been no reliable polling data since then, it’s easy to imagine how much worse the situation has become as the weeks have worn on.

Combine that with the financial aspect of the lockdowns, and there’s a recipe for absolute disaster. Under mandatory closure, an untold number of “nonessential” businesses—particularly small businesses—have gone insolvent or are on the brink thereof.  That’s led to tens of millions of new jobless claims in just the past two months—amounting to the worst employment crisis in American history.

A vast literature connects economic downturns to a number of psychological issues, including anxiety, stress, and depression, which often spur on various high-risk behaviors. Although recessions are inherently stressful, mental health challenges usually emerge within the personal context of income and employment insecurity. With the economy in free fall, many millions of Americans have become worried about their ability to continue paying bills and putting food on the table going forward. The psychological impact that recessions have is capable of lasting for years, even after economic difficulties themselves have disappeared. With entire states having been locked down for weeks and months on end, public activity is only reemerging under the scourge of intense mental disturbance.