Study Says COVID Recession ‘May Kill More Americans’ than COVID-19

Coronavirus has taken far too many lives. Recent statistics suggest that over 400,000 Americans have died from the pandemic. However, if authors from Duke University, Harvard Medical School, and Johns Hopkins University business school are correct, then the reaction to the pandemic could be even deadlier than the virus itself.

Fortune reports that this latest study finds that “the total lives lost to the virus in the U.S. may far exceed those immediately related to the acute COVID-19 critical illness. …The recession caused by the pandemic can jeopardize population health for the next two decades.”

According to the article, “the authors wondered how unemployment affects mortality and life expectancy years later. Little research on that question existed, so they conducted their own analysis using 67 years of data about unemployment, life expectancy, and death rates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They were able to separate the effects of the unprecedented 2020 unemployment spike from other factors that affect mortality and life expectancy.”

The authors concluded that, over the next 20 years, 1.37 million more people will die than would have died without the unemployment crisis caused by the pandemic. The unemployment rate spiked from nearly the lowest in 50 years to the highest since the measurement system began in 1948. It has since decreased but is still holding at the highest since the recovery from the 2008–09 financial crisis.

1.37 million…

“Based on emerging data,” the researchers say, “it is likely that the limited access to health care during the lockdown, temporary discontinuation of preventive care interventions, massive loss of employer-provided health insurance coverage, and the lingering concern of the population about seeking medical care out of fear of contracting COVID-19 will impact mortality rate and life expectancy even more severely than predicted.”

This study puts some of the blame squarely on policymakers. Though the virus caused much of the carnage, mayors and governors exacerbated the problem, forcing businesses across the country to shut down and people to stay locked in their homes.

The researchers do note that they are not suggesting policymakers refrain from lockdowns but that they should provide more enhanced health and economic support for vulnerable portions of the population.

The Fortune report, however, is much more direct, asking the complicated question, “if it turns out that the economic suffering, while saving lives in the near term, also costs lives in later years, then what is the right policy response?”

Just last week, it was revealed that school districts have seen a frightening rise in the number of student suicides. In Clark County, the fifth-largest school district in the U.S., 18 students have committed suicide in the past year. To mitigate this problem, Clark County introduced a plan to phase students back to in-person learning. 

Aside from suicide, COVID-19 lockdowns also have other long-term social risks. Brian Kilmeade discusses the social effects of officials “lazily” canceling high school sports:

We may never know the true long-term ramifications of the COVID recession. 

As Geoff Colvin writes, “We mostly know who is dying of COVID-19 itself, those depressing numbers, each accompanied by a name, drive a sense of urgency as we fight back. In coming decades, we will never know exactly whose lives have been shortened by the economic distress the pandemic caused. But that suffering will be just as real and shouldn’t be forgotten or ignored.”


Written by Bobby Burack

Bobby Burack covers media, politics, and sports at OutKick.


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  1. Bobby, I think you missed where Biden said all lives lost will be replaced by immigrants coming into America as we could easily absorb 2-3 million people illegally entering America and be just fine.

    The generational consequences of the political lockdowns will be seen for decades to come, as lockdowns throughout history have proven non-effective (just like this one). Someone should study the progression of children who were able to attend school throughout fall 2020 and spring 2021 and career path vs places where teachers refused to work (Chicago). It was be a fascinating way to measure the true impact of political decisions to impact children’s entire lives for political gain.

    Please write a story on flu cases and deaths during 2020 as compared to other years, as I believe we have had 192 cases of the flu to date, seems rather low.

    • If it’s public school education…it might have been a good thing. They don’t really need to learn about 57 genders or why America is the worst country to have ever existed.

      If it’s about socialization and actual education like literacy, mathematics, and common sense…then yeah that’s a problem.

    • The children of parents who can afford private school, tutors and/or have a stay at home parent who can focus daily attention on school work (ie professionals who can easily work remotely) will do just fine. Those children who don’t have any of the above advantages will suffer. The least of us I thought the Dems want to help, especially the least of us who happen to be non-white? Nah just campaign slogans. Until people realize the hypocrisy and lies we will continue to elect politicians who do nothing but lie. Biden will fix it though. After 50 years he understands what to do.

  2. Well, there are about to be a few new jobs at the US Mint. That should be a fine replacement for actual economic productivity.

    I don’t understand why we would ever work if we can just print money and give it away for free with no downsides whatsoever. I’m sure there will be some grumbling from economists, but what do they know. If the voters start to get skeptical, we can call the free money a “stimulus check” to make it seem like we know what we’re doing. Nevermind the fact that we’ve forcibly shut down all the businesses that need stimulating.

  3. I’m tired of hearing people say “Covid robbed my kid of xyz, covid did this, covid did that”. The politicians’ response to covid is what did these terrible things.

    I’m in Texas and my daughter is playing HS basketball and all is good. gyms can sell 50 percent capacity, which in most situations is plenty. Nobody is playing with masks, we are in school. Guess what? All is fine and normal. We had normal fall football, band, etc.

  4. It’s safe to say we do not have an accurate or trustworthy count of “actual” covid deaths from 2020. There are far too many inconsistencies in tracking these numbers state by state to get an accurate count. We may not really know for years. Too many numbers conflict if you read hard news reporter Alex Berensen’s work, who has studied and analyzed all the data closely from the start. It’s funny the media and government are annually the 2 least trusted institutions by far in America, yet so many quote their numbers as settled scientific fact.

  5. I honestly can’t understand any of the Covid behavior. i had it last February and it was as bad as the worst flu i’ve ever had.

    it was not as bad as Mono, which caused me to miss a month of high school over 30 years ago; and wiped me out physically for a while after that.

    during Covid –
    i’ve traveled to AZ and all over Florida and live my life. its depressing to see so many still complying with Covid lockdowns and restrictions. i know Florida is more open, but why? Why are so many places still locked or restricted? because the new POTUS is terrified!!!?

    my late father loved the phrase ‘mind boggling’ to describe ridiculousness. Now i see the beauty in that phrase.

  6. Where was all the fear mongering with the H1N1 ten years ago which also was a novel corona virus you didn’t hear a peep oh yeah obama was in the white house this time it was all political they could care less what business or people were destroyed. This like all flu’s are no fucking fun to get but most people survive no problem you don’t destroy an economy because of the flu

  7. 400,000 WITH The Wuhan Flu, those OF Wuhan is unknown, but likely much lower and possibly below 100,000. Those under 25 are ten times more likely to die from suicide than the China flu based on 2019 numbers. We don’t know what 2020 looked like yet but it is obviously way worse. A lot of “leaders” need to be brought up on criminal or civil charges, but for prosecutorial immunity. That needs to be stripped. Create polices that MAKE people die, pay the consequences. Just like the private sector.

  8. The economy was doing so well in 2019 the Dems were terrified. They had nothing to run on but socialist policy freebees. Enter Covid. The Dems used it to crush small businesses and steal an election with mail in ballot manipulation. Anti-American, evil, despicable…nothing can describe the scum who were part of what Adrian called the master plan. The regular flu must have disappeared, since we never hear a word about it. Consistently the two main causes of deaths in the U.S. are heart disease and cancer. Rarely heard about those number throughout 2020. How many died with Covid, but not from Covid. A lot of questions in need of answers.

  9. The vision of the anointed. They can always say look at what we did and show some result. When there is no response or limited it hard to quantify it and show pictures or video.

    One thing that clear is those that seek to do more with government power never have to answer for those failures.

    The answer is almost always no government help.

  10. How dare you criticize the GOAT dr fauci and goby bureaucrats. They really do care about you. Even when they don’t follow their own advice all the time. They need to be excused because their job is too difficult trying to take care of us.

  11. No, more “enhanced” economic and medical support will not help people, it will only deepen the misery and enslave them to big government. The country is already headed towards financial crisis with the trillions of excess spending. Government programs are inefficient and lead to misallocation and theft. If the kitchen sink of government programs eventually leads to insolvency or hyper-inflation in the US that will bring on more misery and death. The only thing that works is freedom, opportunity and capitalism.

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