by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The report card on how individual states handled the Covid pandemic is in. States that avoided draconian lockdowns and practiced common sense fared well. States with breast-beating moralizers as governors — New York’s Andrew Cuomo, California’s Gavin Newsom, Illinois’s J.B. Pritzker, and New Jersey’s Phil Murphy — were on the bottom of the heap even though the media celebrated their lockdowns at the time.
The study was by the Committee to Unleash Prosperity, which publishes a news digest that I contribute to. Its authors include Casey Mulligan, a professor at the University of Chicago and the chief economist for the President’s Council of Economic Advisers from 2018 to 2019. It has been published as a working paper by the prestigious National Bureau of Economic Research.
Its analysis found that 13 Republican-led states were among the top 15 in the study. It examined three metrics: (1) health (the death rate in each state from Covid, adjusting for co-morbidities such as obesity and diabetes); (2) the economy (unemployment and growth of output in each state); and (3) education (number of days that schools remained open).
“We hope the results of this study will persuade governors not to close schools and businesses the next time we have a new virus variant,” Stephen Moore, co-founder of the Committee to Unleash Prosperity, told me.
The main takeaway? Strict lockdowns of businesses were a catastrophic mistake and even worse was the shutting down of schools. The enactment in many states of stringent travel, vocation, and dining restrictions had no correlation with lower death totals.
Take Florida, where Governor Ron DeSantis was roasted for not locking down during Covid, and irresponsibly called “Governor Death Sentence” for supposedly putting the health of millions at risk.
The actual numbers show that Florida, which has a much larger senior population, ranks sixth out of 50 states.