Real Clear Markets:
Amazon has been invaluable to so many of us during the coronavirus lockdowns. And now Amazon has provided us with strong evidence that the lockdowns have failed and should not be repeated.
A series of studies – a July 21, 2020 research paper in The Lancet and in August 2020, National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper 27719 and a TrendMacro statistical analysis – have made the case that the lockdowns have been ineffective against the coronavirus.
But data just released by Amazon provide perhaps the strongest evidence yet that the lockdowns have failed to combat the disease.
On October 1, Amazon disclosed that only 19,816 of its U.S. employees “have tested positive or been presumed positive for COVID-19.”
19,816 may sound like a big number, but it is only 1.44 percent of Amazon’s 1.372 million U.S. employees.
Meanwhile 2.18 percent of all Americans have been infected, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
This means that Americans, many of whom during the lockdowns have not worked or have worked alone at home, have been at least 51.3 percent more likely to become infected than Amazon and Whole Foods employees who interact with customers, suppliers, and co-workers in grocery stores, work side by side in fulfillment centers, and visit customers in office buildings, hospitals, apartment buildings, and everywhere else while making deliveries.
Amazon employees, moreover, have actually fared even better than this comparison of infection rates would otherwise indicate. The Amazon data classify not only confirmed cases, but also presumptive cases as infected; the CDC data do not.
And, as Amazon notes, “actual COVID-19 rates in the general population are greater than the official counts because not everyone in the general public gets screened for symptoms or tested,” while all Amazon employees “are regularly screened for symptoms and are increasingly being tested at work, regardless of whether they are showing symptoms.”
The lockdowns have been deadly. They have kept hundreds of thousands from critically needed chemotherapy treatments and cancer and stroke screenings, thrown millions out of work, destroyed thousands of businesses, and deprived the nation’s schoolchildren of months of education.
Now the Amazon data show that the premise of lockdowns – that keeping many Americans away from their workplaces would reduce the infection rate – was false. This data should be the final nail in the coffin for lockdowns. They have failed and should not be repeated.
David M. Simon is a fellow at the Committee to Unleash Prosperity and a lawyer in Chicago. The views expressed in this article are his own and not those of the law firm with which he is affiliated. For more, please see www.dmswritings.com