News Analysis

Democratic politicians shift positions on lockdowns as Biden inauguration looms

After months of vigorously imposing lockdown measures across the country, high profile Democratic politicians have begun shifting their positions on lockdowns as Biden's inauguration approaches.

Noah David Alter Toronto
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After months of vigorously imposing lockdown measures across the country, high profile Democratic politicians have begun shifting their positions on lockdowns as Biden's inauguration approaches. Mainstream media outlets that have been touting the necessity of lockdowns all along have followed suit.

Democratic New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was among the first to switch his position on the lockdowns, releasing a tweet on Jan. 11 expressing his support for reopening New York state.

Cuomo was one of the most prominent governors in promoting lockdowns, having initially shut down the entire state before moving on to targeting "hotspots," leading to outrage among residents in hotspot areas which accused the governor of targeting them.

During the pandemic, Cuomo restricted attendance at houses of worship to manage the pandemic. The move was later overturned by a Supreme Court ruling.

Another proponent of lockdowns who has recently changed her tone is Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot. She implemented heavy restrictions on gatherings during the holiday season, though she also could be seen in violation of her own orders celebrating Joe Biden's presidential win in a large gathering.

Now, Lightfoot is calling for restrictions on bars and restaurants to be rolled back "as quickly as possible."

Many Republicans have suggested that the lockdowns were used as a political tool by Democratic governors to embarrass President Trump, who has received great criticism for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

These reopenings even as coronavirus does not appear to be subsiding in the United States, but Biden's inauguration approaches, is likely to further fuel such claims.

Lockdowns in general have been heavily criticized by Republicans, who have claimed that they are draconian and ineffective. The claims of ineffectiveness are now bolstered by a new study which suggests that lockdowns do not do any more to prevent the spread of coronavirus than simple social distancing.

"We do not question the role of all public health interventions, or of coordinated communications about the epidemic, but we fail to find an additional benefit of stay-at-home orders and business closures," wrote the researchers.

Florida, which has not engaged in lockdowns, has similar rates of contagion as New York, which has shuttered much of society. California has the highest level of infection, and the strictest restrictions.

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