TAMPA, FL — Florida Governor Ron DeSantis held a roundtable discussion with public health experts in Tallahassee on Thursday, March 18, 2021. The discussion, which took place at the Florida State Capitol, featured Former White House health care policy advisor Dr. Scott W. Atlas, British infectious disease expert Professor Sunetra Gupta, Stanford University researcher and Professor of Medicine Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, and biostatistician Dr. Martin Kulldorff who said he agreed with Bhattacharya, that this has been “the biggest public health mistake, or biggest public health fiasco in history, unfortunately.”
This has been the biggest public health mistake, or biggest public health fiasco in history, unfortunately.Biostatistician Dr. Martin Kulldorff
While the experts all largely agreed with the State of Florida’s approach to remain open and prioritize seniors on vaccination distribution, the experts also unanimously rejected most if not all major steps taken by the U.S. to try to control the virus and largely criticized the steps as having harmed the public by causing more adverse effects and creating fear among communities.
All members of the panel agreed that lockdowns have not been effective in stopping the spread of COVID-19, that schools across the country should be ‘immediately opened,’ that children should not be wearing masks in school and that vaccine passports would be a “very, very bad idea,” DeSantis said.
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For people who care about the data, the lockdowns as we had talked about many many times, were extraordinarily harmful, there’s no question that 40 percent of people didn’t get chemotherapy, up to 78 of cancers didn’t get diagnosed, people forgoed medical care for emergencies, all because of fear and you know we have a massive public health price to pay as we go forward and then we look at the data, and the data is really clear that the states in the U.S. we have the comparison as we happen to have done the experiment, because of Governor DeSantis here, and we can compare what happened and when we look at the actual results the facts of having an open state which was Florida versus these other states, we see when you look at things like excess mortality rate, which is the number of deaths, over what you would have expected that year and you take it during the pandemic it turns out Florida beats 70 percent of the states okay, these other states did severe lockdowns, so when you look at Florida compared to California, I’d like to point out California did 50 percent worse than Florida, because of its severe lockdowns and there are many statistics like this. The lockdowns were harmful, they were the opposite of what should have been done.
We said it from the beginning, and there is a massive price to pay. It’s not just that they failed to stop the infection, the lockdowns actually killed people, destroyed lives, destroyed families, and in the end, the schools, our country, more than any other country, frankly, was willing to sacrifice its children, out of fear, and this is really one of the historic, epic, tragedies really of what happened during the pandemic management. It was advocated by many of my other task force members to do the lockdowns, they got what they wanted, and it’s a failure.Former White House coronavirus adviser Dr. Scott W. Atlas
Following up comments from Dr. Atlas was Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, which were equally critical.
The international evidence and the American evidence is clear. The lockdowns have not stopped the spread of the disease in any measurable way. The disease spreads by aerosol, by droplets, it’s a respiratory disease, it’s very difficult to stop. The idea of the lockdown is incredibly, I mean in some ways, beguiling, so if you just stay apart far enough like rats in cages, we won’t spread the disease, humans are not like that, and to have that happen we can’t, actually, in fact what’s happened, instead, is we’ve exposed working-class people, we’ve exposed poor people, to the disease at higher rates. The lockdowns have, I mean, I call it trickle-down epidemiology right, we’ve created this sort of this illusion that we can control the disease spread when in fact we cannot, and have failed to do so.Dr. Jay Bhattacharya
At one point DeSantis asked the panel about school closings and said pointblank, “We now have been doing this for a year, Is there ANY basis to keep kids locked out of school?
We should open every school in the United States immediately with no restrictions. What we’re doing to children is robbing them of their birthright.Dr. Jay Bhattacharya
There’s absolutely no public health reasons to prevent children from going to school in person. It’s not dangerous for children to be in school, and it is not dangerous for teachers either; the only exception would be if you are a teacher and you are over the age of 60, maybe you should be able to do online teaching until you have gotten the vaccine.Dr. Martin Kulldorff
The event, which took place ten days ago, has received very little coverage outside of a few local Florida news stations.