Rep. Murphy asks NIH to examine impact of COVID-19 lockdowns, closures on Americans' health

Murphy, a practicing physician who serves on the GOP Doctors Caucus, highlights several concerning health outcomes impacting Americans stemming from COVID-19 lockdowns, besides COVID-19 itself, in his letter to Tabak.

“I want to help restore faith in medicine to the American public,” Murphy told Fox News Digital of his 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.”

Rep. Greg Murphy, R-N.C., walks down the House steps after a vote in the Capitol on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. 

Rep. Greg Murphy, R-N.C., walks down the House steps after a vote in the Capitol on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020.  (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

The congressman added that he is asking the NIH for data on the adverse reactions of COVID-19 lockdowns because he believes the “shotgun approach” to mitigating COVID-19 may have done “more harm than good.”

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Those health concerns stemming form COVID-19 lockdowns Murphy mentions in his letter include 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 jobs lost due to vaccine mandates; and an increase in domestic violence cases during lockdowns.

“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 told Fox News Digital of the letter. “And so, I think it’s fair that we study this type of thing to keep everything in balance and put everything in perspective.”

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Murphy cites several studies in his letter, including a 2021 Stanford University study of more than 13 million U.S. surgical procedures between Jan. 1, 2019, through Jan. 30, 2021, in which researchers found a 48% decrease in total surgical procedures “immediately after the March 2020 recommendation to cancel elective surgical procedures.”

Medical staff transport a patient from a COVID-19 ward to the intensive care unit to be put on a ventilator at the Willis Knighton Medical Center in Shreveport, Louisiana, Aug. 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File) 

Medical staff transport a patient from a COVID-19 ward to the intensive care unit to be put on a ventilator at the Willis Knighton Medical Center in Shreveport, Louisiana, Aug. 17, 2021. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)  ( )

The congressman also noted research from Dr. Kennith Layton, a Dallas-based neuroradiologist, who reported a “30 percent decrease in patients presenting ischemic stroke symptoms” between January and March of 2020. During the same time period, Layton noted a “threefold increase in patients too late to intervene.”

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy in December issued a national advisory warning of a growing youth mental health crisis amid COVID-19. 

Early data show emergency room (ER) visits for suicide attempts among adolescent girls, in particular, rose by 51% during COVID-19 and ER visits among adolescent boys increased by 4% during the same time period. There were more than 6,600 suicide deaths among U.S. youth ages 10 to 24 in 2020, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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Daily screen time among adolescents more than doubled from 3.8 hours per day to 7.7 hours per day during the pandemic due to school closures, according to a 2021 study from researchers at the University of California and University of Toronto that Murphy cites in his letter.

Additionally, nearly 79,000 people between 18 and 45 years old — 37,208 in 2020 and 41,587 in 2021 — died of fentanyl poising deaths between 2020 and 2021, according to a data analysis from opioid awareness organization Families Against Fentanyl based on CDC data. Overall drug overdose deaths are expected to surpass 100,000 in 2021, according to preliminary CDC data, representing a 28% increase between April 2020 and April 2021. 

Sharon Rivera adjusts flowers and other items left at the grave of her daughter, Victoria, at Calvary Cemetery in New York on Mother's Day. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)

Sharon Rivera adjusts flowers and other items left at the grave of her daughter, Victoria, at Calvary Cemetery in New York on Mother’s Day. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File) ( )

Fentanyl drug seizures at the border have reached record highs in 2021, according to data from Customs and Border Protection (CBP), as the Biden administration faces a continuing crisis at the southern border.

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Nearly 840,000 people have died of COVID-19 in the U.S. thus far, according to the CDC, Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, told Fox News’ Brett Baier last week. She also said that data separating deaths linked to COVID-19 versus deaths directly from the virus is “forthcoming.”

“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’s letter states. “This measure is an essential responsibility to inform future public health decisions.”

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached by calling 800-273-8255.

For those who don’t want to speak to a counselor, there’s also a national Crisis Text Line available 24/7 by texting “home” to 741741.

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