As coronavirus cases rise across the nation, the media and the Democrats (but I repeat myself) have struck upon a narrative: COVID-19 has been mishandled by Republicans. This is, to be sure, a dubious proposition.
There are five separate pieces of information that should make you skeptical of the “Republicans as key bad actors” narrative in the media’s fantasy.
1. Blue States Were Harder Hit By Every Metric.
After all, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut represent well over one-third of COVID-19 deaths, but just 6% of the population of the United States; the worst death per million ratios by state belong to, in order, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, District of Columbia, Louisiana, Michigan, Illinois, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. Only Maryland has a Republican governor. Much-maligned Florida ranks 25th here, better than Ohio, Colorado, Minnesota, and Virginia. Texas ranks even further down the list, at 35th, below Washington and California.
Still, the myth persists: red states blew it, blue states didn’t.
2. New York Isn’t Doing Well Now Because They Did It Right. They’re Doing Better Because They Performed Horribly.
In order to promulgate this myth, particularly these days, media members put out charts showing the dramatic decrease in deaths in New York. But that decrease is almost assuredly due not to good policy – New York never implemented good policy, from cramming COVID-positive elders back into nursing homes to refusing to cleanse the subways until May, from cheering on mass protests to refusing to lock down until late March. It’s due to the fact that Democratic areas were hard-hit, and the virus burned through the most vulnerable population. It’s like arguing that the death rates on Alderaan looked stellar a week after Grand Moff Tarkin’s order to destroy the planet.
3. There Is No Consistent Evidence That Forced Lockdown Is The Solution.
The media have drawn a sharp binary between shutdown states and non-shutdown states. The data don’t support it. Sometimes lockdowns are necessary; sometimes they’re not. Colorado reopened at the same time as Georgia, but has seen case declines. California remained largely locked down while Texas and Florida opened, but California is being shellacked. Policy considerations differ from place to place and from climate to climate. Furthermore, Americans became risk-averse before official lockdowns by data. Government compulsion isn’t always the rationale for Americans staying at home.
4. Mask-Wearing Mandates Aren’t The Big Differentiator.
The theory seems to be that Americans in red states aren’t wearing masks, but that Americans in blue states are – therefore red state Americans are idiots spreading disease. That’s not true. Here’s the latest map from The New York Times on prevalence of mask-wearing, alongside the latest map from the Times on overall case load. The maps show clearly that Americans wear masks when the caseload is high. In other words, Americans are self-interested and rational in protecting themselves for the most part.
Map of mask-wearing in the US vs. map of total case count in US. See if you can spot the pattern. pic.twitter.com/DLjtVHu1iR
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) July 17, 2020
Furthermore, there is wide variation in terms of mask adoption abroad – countries like Norway (49 deaths per million), Finland (59 deaths per million), Denmark (105 deaths per million) and Sweden (556 deaths per million) have not adopted masking, while countries like Spain (608 deaths per million) and Hong Kong (1 death per million) have. Is the most obvious factor in the deaths per million differential mask mandates? And do such variations have anything to do with Republicans?
5. This Virus Is Extraordinarily Transmissible.
As Jim Geraghty wrote today in National Review:
A study released last month by the Scripps Research Institute concluded that the strains of the virus spreading so quickly in Europe and the U.S. have a mutated S “spike” protein that makes them about ten times as infectious as the strain that was initially identified in Asia. If it seems like the United States is having a tougher time controlling the spread of the coronavirus than Asian countries did in winter and early spring, that’s partially because this version of the virus is tougher to stop from spreading.
That means it’s simply tough to stop the spread. End of story.
There is some good news in all of this. Overall, mortality rates have plummeted. We may be seeing a plateau in hospitalizations in Texas, Florida, and Arizona. There is some evidence that T-cell immunity actually makes the herd immunity threshold significantly lower than previously supposed. But no matter what comes next, one thing is clear: this stuff shouldn’t be partisan. And there are no obvious answers or sins that allow Democrats to pin the pandemic on Republicans.
More from Ben Shapiro: ‘Anti-Racists’ Say Science And Reason Are ‘Whiteness.’ That’s Insane And Dangerous.