Wednesday, May 6, 2020

The Politics of Death

hen controlling for the differences in population across states, the number of deaths from coronavirus is over three times higher in states with Democratic governors than in states with Republican governors. As of Sunday, April 26, states with Republican governors have experienced 57.53 coronavirus deaths per million of population, states with Democratic governors have 179.74 deaths per million of population. Even excluding the state of New York as an extreme outlier, states with Democratic governors have 138.58 deaths per million from coronavirus, still over twice as many coronavirus deaths per million as deaths in states with Republican governors.

It merits emphasis from the get-go that this relationship is obviously not directly causal. The inauguration of Kentucky’s new Democratic governor on December 10, 2019 did not triple the state’s subsequent mortality from the coronavirus relative to what it would have been had Republican incumbent Matt Bevin been reelected.

The dramatically different death rates between states with Republican and Democratic governors, however, illuminates two issues concerning state-level responses to the coronavirus. First, the dramatically lower death rates in Republican states account for the willingness of Republican governors to consider relaxed shelter-in-place policies relative to governors in Democratic states. As is appropriate in a federal system where significant policy responsibility continues to be exercised at the state level, a shelter-in-place policy appropriate for New York would not necessarily work well in Wyoming. Governors should be encouraged, not condemned, for pursuing policies tailored to the unique characteristics of their states.
This, of course, is merely an outcome of the essential urban/rural split between Democratic states and Republican states. What people in urban areas consider "social distancing", those of us in more rural areas find cloying close contact. No wonder the rates of penetration of WuFlu into the heartland is so slow.

Professor Reynolds (Insty), Coronavirus lessons on density, mass transit, bureaucracy and censorship: They kill.
►Density kills. The coronavirus has been much more deadly in places like New York City or Boston than in rural settings. As demographer Joel Kotkin notes, Los Angeles has done much better than other big cities, because it’s less dense. “L.A.’s sprawling, multi-polar urban form, by its nature, results in far less 'exposure density' to the contagion than more densely packed urban areas, particularly those where large, crowded workplaces are common and workers are mass-transit-dependent...

"In recent decades, this dispersed model has been increasingly disparaged by politicians, the media and people in academia who tend to favor the New York model of density and mass transit. Yet even before COVID-19 most Angelenos rejected their advice, preferring to live and work in dispersed patterns and traveling by car. This bit of passive civic resistance may have saved lives in this pandemic.”

►Mass Transit kills. Kotkin mentions mass transit, and an MIT study found that NYC subways were a ”major disseminator” of the coronavirus in New York. This is unsurprising: New York City subways are crowded, poorly ventilated and filthy. The city is only just now starting to clean them every night. (A bit late.) Cars come with built-in social-distancing: With a car, you’re riding in a metal and glass bubble with filtered air. Subways and buses, not so much. Whether this virus sounds the ”death knell” for mass transit or not, people will be far more reluctant to ride packed vehicles in the future.

►Bureaucracy kills. Much of the fight against the coronavirus has also involved a fight against bureaucrats dead set on making things worse. Early on, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared COVID-19 a public health emergency, which raised the bar for testing requirements. As a result, hospitals and universities faced significant barriers to getting alternative tests approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Worse yet, the CDC tests turned out to be defective.

No comments:

Post a Comment