by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
As the coronavirus spread slows, governors are responding in different, sometimes wildly divergent ways. Many of them, recognizing their states are not likely to see an outbreak on the scale of New York or New Jersey, have in recent days announced plans to loosen lockdown orders and get their residents back to work. Others have taken the opposite tack, extending lockdown orders and keeping businesses shuttered even as jobless claims mount.
The first set of governors, generally speaking, is serious about the trade-offs and tensions between protecting public health and preventing an economic collapse. They know they have to be careful about reopening their states, that they don’t yet have enough testing or contact tracing in place, and that we don’t have an effective treatment or vaccine for COVID-19. They also know that their residents and businesses cannot go on like this for months or years, and that allowing people to get back to work and feed their families is also an urgent need—and at some point becomes a question of public health.
Hence, governors in Texas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Missouri, Florida, Ohio, Montana, Tennessee, Utah, and South Carolina have all announced substantive plans to allow some businesses to reopen this week, with varying restrictions remaining in place. …
… The second set of governors, those who are extending their lockdown orders, are coming off as… not so reasonable. California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Monday he was still weeks away from making “measurable and meaningful changes” to his statewide stay-at-home order. …
… But is it data or behavior that Newsom is relying on? Because the data show that California, a state of some 40 million people, has had fewer than 1,800 COVID-19 fatalities and currently has fewer than 3,400 hospitalizations.
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