Nevadans deserve a governor that will defy next lockdown push

Robert Fellner

Lockdowns were one of the “greatest peacetime policy disasters of all time,” concludes Professor Douglas Allen in a paper just published by the International Journal of the Economics of Business.

Elsewhere, a team of researchers with the National Bureau of Economic Research “failed to find” any evidence that lockdowns led to a reduction in the COVID death rate. In fact, the researchers—who examined data from 43 countries and all U.S. states—found that lockdowns were positively correlated with a higher total death rate. That preventing people from engaging in work, school and socialization would cause widespread suffering is hardly surprising. Sadly, Nevadans are all too familiar with this fact.

Governor Sisolak’s lockdowns did nothing to stop COVID. They did, however, inflict widespread harm upon working-class Nevadans. A recent analysis from the Pew Charitable Trusts found that Nevada’s prime-age employment rate dropped a full 10 percentage points from 2019 to 2021. In other words, 10 out of every 100 prime working age Nevadans that were employed in the spring of 2019 are now out of a job. This was by far the highest rate of job loss found in any state nationwide, and triple the average rate found among the other 49 U.S. states.

As bad as that is, nothing compares to the harm that Sisolak’s failed policies inflicted on children. School closures caused massive learning loss, which can have compounding deleterious effects that lead to reduced future earnings, increased poverty rate and even reduced life expectancy. Rates of mental health issues among children, including acts of intentional self-harm, have skyrocketed.

These horrific costs were imposed without any corresponding benefits. As even the Centers for Disease Control now admits, “COVID-19 transmission does not appear to be demonstrably more frequent in schools than in noneducational settings.” A more rigorous study published later by the Journal of Global Health found that “children and adolescents had lower odds of infection in educational-settings compared to community and household clusters.” In other words, school shutdowns did nothing to stop the spread of COVID.

The scientific data makes clear that these policies should never again be implemented in response to COVID—which, as a reminder, is less deadly than the flu for healthy young children and comparable to the flu for adults who choose to get vaccinated.

But, for whatever reason, many in the public health establishment have been reluctant to acknowledge that the lockdowns, school closures and other draconian measures they championed in response to COVID were utter failures. Tragically, many other countries are still implementing these dehumanizing and ineffective measures today. This is a problem, given that COVID is clearly here to stay, and that American politicians have demonstrated an uncomfortable willingness to emulate the totalitarian practices of other nations.

Sadly, nothing can undo the damage already caused by Sisolak’s failed policies. But when the next rise of COVID cases inevitably occurs, it is imperative that Nevadans are represented by political leaders willing and able to stand against the hysteria and groupthink. Never again should our children and most vulnerable be sacrificed to placate the misguided fear and neuroses of adults.

Lockdowns and school closures will go down as one of the worst peacetime policy disasters of all time. Nevadans need political leaders who acknowledge this fact, rather than those who would be willing to repeat such catastrophes. Voters will have the ability to make that choice when they go to the polls next November. I hope they choose wisely.

Robert Fellner

Robert Fellner

Policy Director

Robert Fellner joined the Nevada Policy in December 2013 and currently serves as Policy Director. Robert has written extensively on the issue of transparency in government. He has also developed and directed Nevada Policy’s public-interest litigation strategy, which led to two landmark victories before the Nevada Supreme Court. The first resulted in a decision that expanded the public’s right to access government records, while the second led to expanded taxpayer standing for constitutional challenges in Nevada.

An expert on government compensation and its impact on taxes, Robert has authored multiple studies on public pay and pensions. He has been published in Business Insider,, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Orange County Register,, the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Examiner, and elsewhere.

Robert has lived in Las Vegas since 2005 when he moved to Nevada to become a professional poker player. Robert has had a remarkably successfully poker career including two top 10 World Series of Poker finishes and being ranked #1 in the world at 10/20 Pot-Limit Omaha cash games.

Additionally, his economic analysis on the minimum wage won first place in a 2011 George Mason University essay contest. He also independently organized a successful grassroots media and fundraising effort for a 2012 presidential candidate, before joining the campaign in an official capacity.