“President Trump has shifted from glibly promising the end of social distancing by Easter to warn of a ‘painful two weeks ahead’ as the United States now reports more cases of COVID-19 than any other country. As of March 27, most states had implemented some kind of social distancing policies, from shutting down schools and non-essential businesses to imposing stay-at-home orders to slow down the spread of the coronavirus. But did they act too late?” Mother Jones is reporting.
“There is already evidence that state-level decisions on when to require social distancing were driven by politics, not public health. By March 16, the governors of all 50 states had declared a state of emergency. Yet as the animation at the top of this article shows, Democratic governors generally declared emergencies before Republican governors. Four of the last five states to declare an emergency (West Virginia, Oklahoma, Mississippi, and Georgia) have Republican governors.
“That data comes from a study released last week by political scientists at the University of Washington, who found that states with Republican governors and a higher number of Trump voters were slow to roll out policies to control the spread of the virus—potentially undermining efforts to “flatten the curve” of transmission.
“The researchers looked at when governors in every state announced five important social distancing measures: closing schools and non-essential businesses, putting restrictions on restaurants and social gatherings, and issuing stay-at-home orders. States started implementing these policies on March 10, nearly two weeks after the first reported date of community transmission of coronavirus in the United States. But some states moved a lot quicker than others.
“Overall, the researchers found that the strongest predictor of why a state responded slowly to the pandemic was political ideology. States with Republican governors and a higher percentage of Trump supporters were the slowest in implementing social distancing policies. ‘All else equal, states with Republican governors and Republican electorates delayed each social distancing measure by an average of 2.70 days… [A] far larger effect than any other factor, including state income per capita, the percentage of neighboring states with mandates, or even confirmed cases in each state,’ they write.”
The full article is here.