EDITORIAL: Another lockdown would be bad medicine Delta cases continue to rise in Clark County, but another shutdown isn’t the cure

The previous lockdown has had a significant impact on education nationwide. As students return from virtual learning to in-person, a threat of another lockdown looms against the adjustment. "Being at home affected me negatively harmed me socially and physically. I felt isolated being home all the time and I felt pressured to change my life," junior Heron Yonas said. Photo Credit: Rhamil Taguba
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New cases and deaths from COVID-19 are spiking in a record-breaking third wave. In the state of Nevada, seven day averages are rising to 1,000 new cases daily, far more than the 200 cases daily seen in May. These increases in hospitalizations and death are almost exclusively concentrated among the unvaccinated population.

Given the severity of the crisis, lockdowns are growing in popularity to stem the growth in cases. Some countries, like New Zealand, have already reimplemented the harsh policies they enacted near the start of the pandemic, and some U.S. states are looking at similar policies. But it is no longer March 2020. Given the prevalence of the vaccine, the sharp costs of lockdowns are no longer worth the minor benefits, especially in Las Vegas, which is still recovering from the first disaster.

For one, another lockdown would force students to return to distance learning. With over a year of empirical research on the topic, the overwhelming consensus of experts is that forcing students to do online classes had enormous costs with regard to learning and retaining material. These costs fell most heavily on low-income students and students of color.

Furthermore, the psychological effects of another lockdown are likely to be even harsher. The pandemic continue to be rife with anecdotes of grandparents distraught that they couldn’t see their grandchildren, grandchildren fearing that they are losing out on their last opportunities to interact with their grandparents and family members of all ages upset that they couldn’t see the faces of others. The evidence shows that these effects are devastating: symptoms of depression or anxiety went up more than 300% during the pandemic, in no small part due to effects of a lockdown, especially distance learning.

Now, the initial argument is that those costs are more than worth it given the hundreds of thousands, if not millions of lives that were saved by these preventative measures. But this doesn’t hold up to scrutiny now that people have a free and easily accessible vaccine available to them.

So how could we possibly solve this dilemma? Well, the simple solution is a vaccine mandate. Only 64% of adults have taken their two doses of the vaccine. If we could require those who are reluctant to take the vaccine by limiting their movements and action, we can eventually force the majority of the unvaccinated population to get vaccinated. Mass vaccinations will all but eliminate the death rate. For example, we can require restaurants, casinos, and businesses to only service customers who have proof of vaccination. 

Unlike lockdowns, whose economic costs were massive, there’s basically no cost to getting vaccinated. It’s entirely free and usually takes a few minutes. Contrary, the cost of a lockdown would be a massive loss in both the housing market and the economy. Another lockdown poses the risk of yet another unemployment trend, which would mean a struggle to pay any mortgages or buy a new house. The Vegas housing market is already suffering, reaching a median price for single-family homes at $405,000, an excruciating high in July. And with a broken housing market, another lockdown would pose another consequence to Nevada’s homelessness rate, which is ranked 9th highest nationwide.

It’s been more than a year since this pandemic began, and it feels more and more endless every passing day. If Nevada continues to see a spike in Delta cases, policymakers may grow more willing to implement lockdowns as a solution. If a policy that would prevent way more deaths without any of the costs, a vaccine mandate is the only solution.

Should Nevada go under another lockdown?