The Trump administration has, to a large degree, let states take the lead in fighting coronavirus. Following weeks of lockdowns, mass restrictions and regulations that have made varying degrees of sense, there is finally enough data to see which states have handled this pandemic most effectively.
Florida comes immediately to mind. Their coronavirus prevention strategy has received much criticism nationwide, but their statistical outcomes are superior to other comparably-sized states. They closed down April 3, later than almost any comparably-sized state, at which point they already had over 5,000 cases.
Their late closing date garnered strong criticism from many, leading Republican Florida Governor Ron Desantis to rip the media Thursday: “And part of the reason is because you got a lot of people in your profession who waxed poetically for weeks and weeks about how Florida was going to be just like New York.”
Coronavirus, as is typical for flu-like diseases, has tended to hit the elderly hardest. This has held true in China, Italy and in the U.S. This could have made Florida especially vulnerable with its large populations of retired people.
However, DeSantis paid special attention to preventing outbreaks in elderly communities such as The Villages as well as in nursing homes across the state. The state communicated closely with nursing homes to make sure they were provided with adequate protection, testing and “required all staff and any worker that entered to be screened for COVID illness, temperature checks. Anybody that’s symptomatic would just simply not be allowed to go in,” according to DeSantis.
Florida shutdowns were executed in a less uniform fashion than has been seen elsewhere, as DeSantis recognized that the majority of Florida’s cases were crowded in the southeastern part of the state.
“We worked with the locals in Southeast Florida,” he told the National Review. “They had more restrictive measures than the rest of the state.” (RELATED: DeSantis Unloads On Media For Dire Florida Predictions: ‘Hell, We’re 8 Weeks Away From That’)
Florida’s efforts paid off. The New York Times reports that they currently have 48,677 cases and 2,143 deaths, numbers far lower than many comparably-sized states.
Many truths in what @GovRonDeSantis said.
And that is bad for democracy & Americapic.twitter.com/egwSVPv6SR
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) May 21, 2020
California is another state that seems to have handled the pandemic effectively, with Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom recently becoming the unlikely recipient of praise from President Donald Trump. Trump said that California has done a “good job” handling coronavirus. Despite occasionally making headlines for rules such as no “canopies, coolers” on beaches, as well as no “picnicking and sunbathing,” California’s overall case count and death rate can only be considered a success.
The state reported its first coronavirus-related death fairly early, March 4, and reacted quickly to the pandemic. San Francisco, the second-densest city in America, announced their lockdown on March 16. California announced a more general statewide lockdown three days later. The stay-at-home order was issued without an end date and violation is punishable as a misdemeanor “punishable by fine, imprisonment, or both.”
However, the state has seen 88,499, with 3,624 deaths, totally 9 deaths per 100,000 people. That per-capita rate edges out Florida, which currently stands at 10 deaths per 100,000. The state is also now starting to reopen, “as all but five of California’s 58 counties would qualify for a variance,” meaning they meet the requirements to open their economies to varying degrees.
Newsom described the trouble of containing a virus in such a large state, saying “Look, we’re the fifth largest economy in the world, 40 million strong, we’re as diverse a state as exists in this country, [with] 20-some percent of the state foreign-born,” according to the Atlantic.
Both of these states have seen various forms of media criticism over different aspects of their coronavirus management. Speaking purely in terms of containing the disease, their efforts have paid off.
While California and Florida’s hot and humid environments could have provided them with an inherent advantage, both states’ populations were highly vulnerable. in Florida’s case because of their elderly, and California due to the outbreak hitting and spreading there before the rest of the country.