The Corner

Politics & Policy

The Left’s Coronavirus Narrative Is a Myth

A man wearing a mask walks by an illuminated U.S. flag in New York City, March 13, 2020. (Andrew Kelly/Reuters)

To this point, 71 percent more Americans have died in New York nursing homes than have died in the entire state of Florida, which not only has a larger population but a population that skews older. To this point, New York’s death rate has been ten times larger than Florida’s. So, naturally, liberals are busy concocting a narrative that holds that the failures of the American response to coronavirus have been the fault of Trumpian nihilists in the Red States.

The “toxic imbecility” of Republicans is getting people killed, writes Max Boot. “Trumpism, not polarization, drives America’s disastrous coronavirus politics” says Ezra Klein. Some pundits who push this myth, Paul Krugman in particular, had even had the temerity to suggest that the country look to New York State for advice.

I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but today it’s clear that NYC has been the key spreader of the infection nationally, and clear, too, that NYC was unable to flatten the curve.

Deaths per million:

New Jersey: 1,708.7

New York: 1,651.6

Connecticut: 1,212.2

Georgia: 264.2

Florida: 163.2

Texas: 86.1

There are numerous factors beyond our control that created this reality — perhaps the weather, or the population density, or centralized nature of the city, or whatever else researchers will uncover one day. There’s a reason why San Francisco recorded fewer than 50 coronavirus deaths and New York City has about 18,000, and it’s probably not the ideology of its mayors. But that works both ways around. There is simply no way that an open-minded person can arrive at the conclusion that red states bear some unique responsibility for this tragedy.

Let’s remember that initial national lockdown efforts were intended to flatten the curve so that hospitals wouldn’t be overwhelmed with COVID cases, not to shutter the economy in perpetuity (or until a Democrat wins the White House) to ensure that no one gets sick anymore. Other than the New York area, which is led by a governor who made perhaps the single most deadly policy mistake in the entire crisis, this goal has largely been achieved. In the United States, the death rate (the stat that matters more than any other) has been as low, or lower, than most major European nations:

Deaths per million:

Belgium: 854.0

UK: 657.7

Spain: 606.9

Italy: 575.3

Sweden: 523.7

France: 445.5

U.S.: 397.8

(All the foreign countries above, incidentally, have some form of socialized health-care system, which I’m constantly being assured by liberals would have mitigated the effects of coronavirus.)

Most nations that have done better than the United States in this regard (sans Germany) are far smaller, and have an easier time containing spread by shutting down borders; or are more authoritarian, with the kind of pliant populations and governments that some U.S. pundits seem to desire.

There was always going to be an accompanying spike with more testing and reopening, and states need to calibrate their reactions as the facts on the ground change. But, to borrow a phrase, this is primarily a question of science. The crude partisan tale we keep hearing regarding red states, on the other hand, is little more than a fiction.


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