blame it on COVID, you sure about that?

blame it on COVID

As our economy opens up again and as we continue to come out from under municipal restrictions, we’re now seeing another phenomenon unfolding before us. There are stories everywhere using words like “due to the pandemic” or “caused by COVID”. These words are being tossed around like they have no meaning. What’s worse is that they are rarely challenged.

Consider this tweet:

“Research shows that Americans have become more depressed and anxious because of COVID-19, with young people being disproportionately affected.”

tweet from Nova PBS, June 15, 2021

Read that carefully. It says that COVID-19 causes depression and anxiety. I had never heard that. I am NOT a medical expert, and I know that many of us have struggled to hear medical advice that is sound, consistent, and accurate. But I would argue that it’s the decisions made by humans that are causing depression and anxiety, not the disease itself.

Consider also this news story from Raleigh, NC:

“Lumber prices have continued surging in response to supply shortages spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic”

Lumber prices still sky-high amid COVID-19 shortage” by Bailey Aldridge, The (Raleigh) News & Observer, June 5, 2021

Again, I’m not the medical expert, but you’re gonna have a hard time convincing me that COVID-19 causes high lumber prices.

And here’s one from our government:

“Major changes to retirement plans due to COVID-19”

IRS website announcement, July 14, 2020

Yep, if you get COVID-19, the disease is so bad that it can spread to your retirement plan.

And here’s a claim from a university psychology professor:

“Few US students ever repeat a grade but that could change due to COVID-19”

The Conversation article, by Pamela Davis-Kean, September 10, 2020

That last article is from a publication called The Conversation, which claims to be “a news organization dedicated to facts and evidence.” Really? So a university PhD has some kind of medical proof that the disease causes this?

I think you get my point. Now, you might be thinking that I’m just mincing words, and that perhaps since we’re now coming out of all of the restrictions and lockdowns, this doesn’t matter any more. I would argue that it matters now more than ever.

In any business, when you come out of a bad situation, you should carefully evaluate that situation, make sure you understand the causes, and take steps to prevent it from happening again. As we do this with the pandemic, if all we do is say that our problems were “due to COVID,” then who’s going to accept responsibility? How are we going to be sure that this doesn’t happen again?

No, we need to be honest about the decisions that our leaders made, and how those decisions impacted our communities. How did those decisions affect depression, anxiety, and lumber prices? We need to compare businesses and school districts. We see all around us schools who did it right, and as a result their students are flourishing, while others are not. Don’t you think we owe it to ourselves to identify the schools who did well and, more importantly, understand why?

This is the thinking that our businesses, school leaders, and elected officials should have been using a year ago. Last fall, I spoke to the principal of our local parochial school who told me that while the local health officials required that he lock his school and teach remotely, it was hurting his kids. I commend him greatly, because by looking closely at how his students were doing, he quickly realized that keeping his kids locked out of school was hurting them much worse than the virus ever would. So he opened up. He told me that he’d rather listen to several trusted health experts who actually spoke to him and toured his school to see his plan first hand, rather than take advice from the local health director who has never set foot in his building.

So, why were so many kids struggling? It sure wasn’t because of the virus. It was because of decisions made by humans, plain and simple. When you see differences from state to state in how people were affected, it’s often because those states made different choices. It’s not because they had different viruses.

And what about the news organizations who are reporting these stories? They owe it to us to be clear about their words. When they say students are failing due to COVID, what exactly does that mean?

But here’s where it gets interesting. When we actually do compare school districts and companies, we’re going to expose the many leaders who made bad decisions. We’re going to find that these issues we’re facing were NOT caused by COVID after all. They were caused by the decisions of specific school board members, by elected officials and business leaders. In the meantime, it might be obvious who those bad decisions makers are; they’re the ones blaming it on COVID.

So, be careful with what you read and who you believe. COVID was nasty. Yes, people died of the disease. But we still need to hold our leaders accountable, especially those who made bad decisions and caused all of these additional problems.

Here’s a bonus example for you:

“Did your credit score just drop? Blame it on COVID-19.”

Yahoo article, by Daniel McIntosh, October 4, 2020