See How Coronavirus Restrictions Compare to Case Counts in Every State - The New York Times

Coronavirus cases are rising in almost every U.S. state. But the surge is worst now in places where leaders neglected to keep up forceful virus containment efforts or failed to implement basic measures like mask mandates in the first place, according to a New York Times analysis of data from the University of Oxford.

Using an index that tracks policy responses to the pandemic, these charts show the number of new virus cases and hospitalizations in each state relative to the state’s recent containment measures.


States That Imposed Few Restrictions Now Have the Worst Outbreaks

Outbreaks are comparatively smaller in states where efforts to contain the virus were stronger over the summer and fall — potential good news for leaders taking action now. States and cities are reinstating restrictions and implementing new ones: In recent days, the governors of Iowa, North Dakota and Utah imposed mask mandates for the first time since the outbreak began.

The index comes from Oxford’s Blavatnik School of Government, where researchers track the policies — or lack thereof — governments use to contain the virus and protect residents, such as contact tracing, mask mandates and restrictions on businesses and gatherings. Researchers aggregate those indicators and assign a number from 0 to 100 to each government’s total response.

At its highest level of containment efforts, New York state scored an 80 on the index. At the beginning of November, most states were scoring in the 40s and 50s. Though many have taken fresh steps to contain the virus since then, the Times analysis compares cases and hospitalizations for a given date to a state’s index score from two weeks before, since researchers say it is reasonable to expect a lag between a policy's implementation and its outcome.

Most states imposed tight restrictions in the spring even if they did not have bad outbreaks then. After reopening early, some Sun Belt states, including Arizona and Texas, imposed restrictions again after case counts climbed. Now, Midwestern states have among the worst outbreaks. Many have also done the least to contain the virus.

A relationship between policies and the outbreak’s severity has become more clear as the pandemic has progressed.

“States that have kept more control policies in a more consistent way — New England states, for example — have avoided a summer surge and are now having a smaller fall surge, as opposed to states that rolled them back very quickly like Florida or Texas,” Mr. Hale said. “I think timing really matters for the decisions.”

The worst outbreaks in the country now are in places where policymakers did the least to prevent transmission, according to the Oxford index. States with stronger policy responses over the long run are seeing comparatively smaller outbreaks.

While we have contrived to control the pandemic, some things seem certain.

1. A continuing and consistent quarrantine, social distancing and masking are mandatory. Pop-up attempts at lockdown measures implemented locally or regionally may not alter the long term goal of decreasing morbidity and/or mortality, nor improve the economic effect.  Playing catch up management cannot be communicated effectively and may be a waste of resources.

2. There have been reports of health system executives leading the efforts for containment and treatment with inconsistent results.

3. Federal, state and local public health agencies at times conflict with recommendations. The pandemic has also been politicized and continues so even after the election.

Once Joe Biden becomes President his main goal will to to make a strong stand for consistency in regulations for Covid19 control.