Credit where it's due: This Associated Press story highlights a reality that seriously undermines a narrative -- embraced by many in the media -- that the imposition of more COVID restrictions is tantamount to greater "safety" and "following the science." A Biden administration health official was stumped by the California vs Florida disconnect on MSNBC recently, and here's the AP spotlighting the Inconvenient truth further:
AP headline: “Virus tolls similar despite governors’ contrasting actions.” Where would you rather live? pic.twitter.com/sAJadz8VL5— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) March 13, 2021
Vastly different approaches. "Almost identical" COVID outcomes. More details:
California and Florida both have a COVID-19 case rate of around 8,900 per 100,000 residents since the pandemic began, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And both rank in the middle among states for COVID-19 death rates — Florida was 27th as of Friday; California was 28th. Connecticut and South Dakota are another example. Both rank among the 10 worst states for COVID-19 death rates. Yet Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont, a Democrat, imposed numerous statewide restrictions over the past year after an early surge in deaths, while South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem, a Republican, issued no mandates as virus deaths soared in the fall.
We already know that New York has been a disaster both on COVID and economically. But exploring the California versus Florida comparison a bit deeper, more facts emerge. California has slightly better per-capita death and case rates, though both states are roughly in the middle of the pack nationally on the former metric. Florida, of course, has an older population. Before the pandemic hit, the unemployment rate in Florida was one full point better than in California (3.3 percent and 4.3 percent, respectively). By the end of the year, California's unemployment rate had soared to 9.3 percent, while Florida's only increased to 5.1 percent. In 2020, California lost 1.63 million jobs, compared to approximately 583,000 in Florida. The media has been obsessed with attacking Florida and its Republican governor, but the data tells a story that doesn't align with their preferred storyline. Even pieces designed to criticize Ron DeSantis end up veering into frustrating territory for those who've been wedded to the 'DeathSantis' stuff:
Like so many stories about Florida, this starts out "Ron DeSantis, bad," then changes direction halfway as the writer has to admit Florida's COVID numbers are in the middle of the pack despite not locking down, and better than several states that did. https://t.co/wcKWkVZGrI— Varad Mehta (@varadmehta) March 14, 2021
Some people, like this infamous hack lefty columnist at the Los Angeles Times cannot process empirical truths that conflict with his partisan feelings, so they resort to baseless conspiracy theories:
Here's a difference you don't mention: Florida fired its data official for refusing to post fake statistics. California didn't.— Michael Hiltzik (@hiltzikm) March 14, 2021
That didn't happen, and the lunatic to which he's referring has been exposed as a liar and charged with multiple crimes. But some media figures just can't quit her because it's easier to cling to conspiracies than grapple with the realization that your passionately-held partisan dogma might be incorrect. Since we began this post with a mainstream news organization acknowledging truths that many within their tribe refuse to acknowledge, how about another? Via ABC News, late last week:
Despite calls for national unity and bipartisanship, President Joe Biden and his top aides have declined to give the Trump administration credit on the nation's COVID-19 vaccine rollout while relying heavily on a system established by their predecessors...Biden and his top aides have repeatedly accused the Trump administration of having "no plan."... While Biden has purchased additional vaccine supply, it was always expected that Pfizer and Moderna would ramp up their supply throughout the year. Also, Biden's playbook for vaccine distribution has relied heavily on a system created by the Trump administration, including federal partnerships with state officials and agreements with local pharmacies. In fact, the federal pharmacy program created by Trump aides is what Biden relied on last week to expand eligibility to teachers. And when Biden called for "100 million shots in 100 days" -- a pace of about 1 million shots per day -- former health officials noted that the U.S. had already hit that pace the week of Biden's inauguration in mid January...With three vaccines now authorized by regulators, shoring up supply is indeed a victory. But it's also one that Biden has celebrated as solely his administration's achievement without acknowledgement that he was relying on Trump-era contracts to get it done.
One might call this cynical and predictable politics as usual, but Biden explicitly campaigned on unifying the country, healing divides, and reaching across the aisle. This ain't that.