New York, New Jersey and California failed in their handling of the COVID-19 pandemic because of stringent lockdowns and policies, while Florida was among the best-performing states in the country, a new study has found.
The study, published by University of Chicago economist Casey Mulligan and Stephen Moore and Phil Kerpen of the Committee to Unleash Prosperity., graded states by comparing COVID-19 outcomes based on the number of deaths, the economy and impact on education.
Overall, the bottom 10 on the study’s “report card” were dominated by states that had the most severe pandemic lockdowns and were among the last to finally reopen schools.
“Shutting down their economies and schools was by far the biggest mistake governors and state officials made during COVID, particularly in blue states,” Stephen Moore, one of the study’s authors and co-founder of the Committee To Unleash Prosperity, said Monday.
Despite now-disgraced former Gov. Andrew Cuomo initially being hailed for his strict response to the pandemic, the Empire State performed “poorly on every measure” — ranking 49th overall, according to the study. New Jersey was the worst-performing state, the study found. Other places that also received an F grade included California, Illinois and Washington, DC.
“They had high age-adjusted death rates, they had high unemployment and significant GDP losses, and they kept their schools shut down much longer than almost all other states,” the study said.
Utah, Nebraska, Vermont and Florida — all governed by Republicans — topped the list.
The study found that the states that locked down businesses, churches, schools and restaurants for lengthy periods did not have lower death rates than those that largely remained open.
Meanwhile, Florida, whose GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis did away with COVID restrictions earlier on in the pandemic, ranked 28th in mortality, the study found. In comparison, heavily locked-down California came in 27th in terms of deaths.
Keeping schools closed had no impact on the number of deaths in children or adults, according to the study.
“The states that locked down their economies have had unemployment rates on average about two percentage points higher than states that did not engage in severe lockdowns,” the researchers added.