More Thoughts on the Futility of Lockdowns

In “Statewide lockdowns unnecessarily divide, divert us from task at hand,” I called attention to statistical evidence indicating that: (1) most people who were willing and able to practice social distancing had already started doing it before any lockdowns were put in place and (2) most people who were unwilling or unable to practice social distancing continued to not do it even after the lockdowns were put in place. I also pointed out that, if both of those assertions are true, we shouldn’t give lockdowns very much credit for flattening the curve in April and May, and we also shouldn’t assign them very much blame for tanking the economy during the same period.

A recent Wall Street Journal article, however, suggests that the impact of lockdowns on economic recovery may be another matter. The title is Tale of Quad Cities: Different Reopening Policies Split Economy of Border Communities. Here’s an excerpt:

Pryce Boeye’s Hungry Hobo sandwich shops’ sales on the Iowa side of the Mississippi River have been booming since the state reopened dining rooms in mid-May, while those he owns in still-closed Illinois languish.

The pattern is repeated across the Quad Cities, a river-straddling metro area of around 420,000 that includes Scott and Muscatine counties on the Iowa side, as well as Rock Island and Henry counties in Illinois. The contrasting state reopening policies have created two tracks in what had been a unified economy before the coronavirus pandemic.

The scene is playing out in other border communities around the country where workers and shoppers regularly cross state lines. The relatively stringent lockdown regime in Illinois compared with Iowa has created a clear shift in current spending patterns and potential longer-term consequences.

It’s all very anecdotal, but if it reflects a national trend it has important policy implications.

Jon Guze / Director of Legal Studies

Jon Guze is the Director of Legal Studies at the John Locke Foundation. Before joining the John Locke Foundation, Jon practiced law in Durham, North Carolina for over twent...

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