OPINION: Biden should press for a second lockdown

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Image: Keith Holmes Jr.

A sign details the restrictions due to COVID-19 at Papa John’s Pizza on Mercer University Dr. Jan 27.

This is an opinion article. Any views expressed belong solely to the author and are not representative of The Cluster.

The emergence of COVID-19 in the United States over a year ago sent average daily life grinding to a halt.

Because of the speed at which the virus spreads and the damage it can do, many people are questioning whether newly-elected President Joe Biden will place the country into a lockdown once again.

Unfortunately, medical opinion on lockdowns is as divided as the partisan groups in America have become.

There are several studies suggesting that lockdowns have saved millions of lives while others suggest that they have no clear benefit.

Despite being a college student who would surely be adversely affected by a lockdown, I think the nation must go through with it.

Should we enter another lockdown?

Lockdowns across the world have had mixed results for the most part.

Many states in Australia have gone more than two weeks without having any cases of COVID-19. This drastic decrease in case numbers is due to each state and territories’ strict lockdown restrictions.

New Zealand also went into lockdown during the start of the pandemic, which resulted in the country recording only 2,186 cases and 25 deaths until Jan. 24. It wasn’t until they reopened that they recorded new cases, having only two Jan. 25.

China, a country with a larger population than the United States and the epicenter of the pandemic, has only recorded 100,136 confirmed cases with 4,811 deaths as of Jan. 25. Some news outlets, such as the New York Times, are skeptical of how well China has done handling the pandemic and reporting accurate numbers, but the numbers are at least worth noting.

Russia and India, both countries of similar size to the United States, have also recorded fewer deaths with fewer infections than the U.S.

Why shouldn’t we?

The obvious argument for avoiding a lockdown is based primarily on economic values.

When Italy went into lockdown March 2020, their stock slid nearly 17% in its biggest record tumble.

The United States experienced similar — albeit less extreme — market volatility when the pandemic first shook the country’s borders in April.

Protecting the economy is important, and there are many people who will struggle to support their families with only stimulus funds or working from home.

Additionally, many students are finding themselves struggling thanks to COVID-19.

The pandemic has been awful for the mental health of college students and “U.S. college students struggled with depression, anxiety and other mental health disorders at higher rates than the general population,” according to ScienceNews. 

A lockdown would force students who have been attending in-person or hybrid classes at the college level to go completely online.

The switch to doing class via Zoom or asynchronously was and is difficult for me, as well as many other students. I find myself wanting to play games or watch YouTube videos if the class is not engaging enough over Zoom.

According to a survey conducted by Barnes & Noble Education, “more than half of students, 60%, say they are at least somewhat prepared for the switch to online classes, while the rest are less certain, saying they need time to adjust to the transition.”

There is an inherent risk for further affecting the health of our nation’s youth and the strength of the United States’ already faltering education.

The bottom line

The market can always recover — as it always has — but people’s lives cannot.

The United States has recorded the highest number of deaths from COVID-19 of any country. In the last seven days alone, the U.S. saw more than 17,000 more deaths than Brazil, the country with the second-highest COVID fatalities in the world.

While one could argue that a poor economy would result in similar deaths, the increase in stimulus funds under the Biden administration could help mitigate that impact.

New Zealand went into lockdown, “but much of New Zealand’s economy has shown a rapid recovery thanks to government stimulus spending that has led to consumer spending,” according to the Montreal Gazette.

Additionally, while taking a student health and education risk might not be worth it, we already have several systems in place that have already been designed to promote a safe and healthy online environment. Online counselling and applications like Zoom are also more available at a wide level than they were before the pandemic.

There is no hard and fast way to fix the current pandemic. The only thing we can do is stick together and do our best to mitigate the loss of life.

The United States should look into avenues of locking down the country, maybe in areas of need primarily, in order to help those at risk of catching or dying from COVID-19.