Colorado’s costly attempts to curb COVID

Article publisher: 
Denver Gazette
Article date: 
15 November 2021
Article category: 
Colorado News
Article Body: 

... A compelling and eye-opening study just released by Colorado’s Independence Institute represents the most comprehensive effort so far to tally that toll on our state. “Unequal opportunities, unequal outcomes: the COVID-19 [China Virus] recession in Colorado,” conducted by economist Paul Prentice and researcher Jim Royal, should be required reading for every elected and appointed policy maker in the state. Its findings and their implications for future policy making are that broadly relevant.

Among those findings:
  • As of last June, the number of small businesses in Colorado had declined by over 40% during the pandemic.
  • The leisure and hospitality industry, which averages some of the lowest wages of any economic sector in Colorado, was hit harder than any other during the pandemic...
  • While most Colorado K-12 students suffered setbacks in their academic achievement — idled at home by remote learning amid COVID — the impact was far more pronounced on low-income students and students of color. The authors note: “Since education is highly correlated with earnings, this is certain to increase inequality of income and wealth in the future.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated already-rising overdose rates in the state, with “an outsized effect on minority groups” — notably Hispanic and Black Coloradans.
  • Almost twice as many lower-income adults postponed a medical procedure during the pandemic than did higher-income adults. Say the authors, “The long-term economic impact on the poor of reduced health outcomes … is certain to increase inequality in the future.”

These and other troubling developments observed in the study weren’t caused by the virus per se, of course — but by government intervention intended to stem the virus....

In the Pikes Peak region, the study points out, kids in School District 38 — among the wealthiest in the area — suffered a 2.9% setback in math proficiency. Meanwhile, one of the poorest school districts, District 2, saw math proficiency fall by 15.9%....

The sheer dollars and cents of it all are brutal. Again, we all saw it coming in the abstract, but the numbers make it palpable.
“In 2019, real GDP in Colorado increased 4.3%, real wage and salary income increased by 4.5%, and employment increased 2.2%,” the authors write. “Assuming these trends would have continued without the interruption of a pandemic, the economic cost of the COVID-19 lockdowns is 12.5% in real GDP, 10.2% in wages and salary income, and 16.9% in employment.”...