GOP Reps Ask NIH to Research Impact of COVID-19 Lockdowns, Restrictions on Americans' Health

© REUTERS / HANNAH BEIERBrooke Cobb, RN, flushes a monoclonal antibody treatment from a patient who is being treated for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the Children's Hospital of Georgia in Augusta, Georgia, U.S., January 15, 2022.
Brooke Cobb, RN, flushes a monoclonal antibody treatment from a patient who is being treated for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the Children's Hospital of Georgia in Augusta, Georgia, U.S., January 15, 2022.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 18.01.2022
COVID-19 has caused the deaths of more than 840,000 people in the US, according to CDC data. Earlier this month, however, the agency's head Rochelle Walensky stated that data differentiating those who had underlying conditions and those whose deaths were directly caused by the virus would be "forthcoming."
Republican Rep. Greg Murphy of North Carolina led 16 other Republicans in a letter to National Institutes of Health (NIH) Acting Director Lawrence Tabak on Tuesday, requesting that he look into the impact of COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions on Americans' health.
In his letter shared with Fox News, Murphy, a practicing physician and member of the GOP Doctors Caucus, notes many concerning health impacts affecting Americans as a result of COVID-19 lockdowns, in addition to the coronavirus itself.
"I want to help restore faith in medicine to the American public," Murphy is quoted in Fox News' report explaining the letter. "I also want real answers. … Did we go overboard because we kept only focusing on one thing during this entire time period? In my opinion, I think we should have had a much more selective approach of helping those who are at high risk rather than just a shotgun approach to everybody."
The representative also stated that he is requesting data from the NIH on the negative effects of COVID-19 lockdowns because he feels the "shotgun approach" to COVID-19 prevention and reduction may have caused "more harm than good."
The mental and physical toll school closures had on children, a reduction in elective surgeries and subsequent rise in cardiac arrests and cancer diagnoses during initial COVID-19 lockdowns, the mental health impact of business closures and job losses due to vaccine mandates, and an increase in domestic violence cases during lockdowns are among the health concerns Murphy mentions in his letter.
"While it's important that we've worked on preventing deaths from COVID, the other forms of death in our life — medical death — I believe, have been neglected," Murphy said. "And so, I think it's fair that we study this type of thing to keep everything in balance and put everything in perspective."
In his letter, Murphy cites several studies, including a Stanford University study from 2021 that looked at more than 13 million surgical procedures in the country from January 1, 2019, to January 30, 2021, and found a 48% decrease in total surgical procedures "immediately after the March 2020 recommendation to cancel elective surgical procedures."
Another study cited in the letter was conducted by Dr. Kennith Layton, a Dallas-based neuroradiologist, who found a "30% decrease in patients presenting ischemic stroke symptoms" between January and March 2020. Layton, however, noticed a "threefold increase in patients too late to intervene" throughout the same time span.
Apart from that, Murphy mentions Dr. Vivek Murthy, the US Surgeon General, who issued a nationwide advisory in December, warning of a developing youth mental health crisis as a result of COVID-19. According to the letter, early data shows that emergency department (ER) visits for suicide attempts among adolescent girls climbed by 51% during the COVID-19 pandemic, whereas ER visits among adolescent boys increased by 4%.
An audience member has their temperature checked, a prerequisite to attend a NY PopsUp performance at the St. James Theatre, Broadway's first performance since shutting down for Coronavirus (COVID-19) in New York City, U.S., April 3, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920, 07.04.2021
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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's November report, more than 6,600 young people aged 10 to 24 died by suicide in the US in 2020, although the report noted that overall, the number of age-adjusted suicides slightly declined compared to 2019. However, the number of suicides increased significantly among men aged 10 to 34 years, with a smaller increase among women of the same age group.
The congressman also expressed serious concern with the ongoing severe opioid crisis in the US, citing recent CDC data and the letter the GOP Doctors Caucus sent to the Department of Homeland Security chief Alejandro Mayorkas, urging him to ensure border security in order to cut the trafficking of illegal fentanyl. Citing CDC data, Murphy yet again noted that over 79,000 persons between the ages of 18 and 45 died of fentanyl poisoning between 2020 and 2021, with 37,208 in 2020 and 41,587 in 2021.
This photo provided by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's Phoenix Division shows one of four containers holding some of the 30,000 fentanyl pills the agency seized in one of its bigger busts in Tempe, Ariz., in August 2017. Fentanyl is a potent synthetic opioid. - Sputnik International, 1920, 19.12.2021
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According to those preliminary CDC estimates, overall drug overdose deaths are predicted to reach 100,000 in 2021, suggesting a 28% rise between April 2020 and April 2021.
"We owe it to the American people to reflect on the short- and long-term ramifications of this Administration’s restrictive, repressive, and often damaging COVID-19 policies," Murphy stressed in the letter. "This measure is an essential responsibility to inform future public health decisions."
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