States with least restrictions now have worst outbreaks: NYT

States with least restrictions now have worst outbreaks: NYT
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States that imposed the least coronavirus restrictions tend to have worse outbreaks, according to a New York Times analysis of data from the University of Oxford.

The analysis plots new cases against an Oxford index of how strict an area’s restrictions are.

South Dakota, North Dakota and Iowa, for example, have the fewest restrictions and the most per capita cases. Maine, New York and Hawaii, on the other hand, have more restrictions and fewer cases per capita.


Governors in Iowa and North Dakota had long resisted imposing a mask mandate, and only did so in recent days as the outbreaks continued to get worse and worse. Gov. Kristi NoemKristi Lynn NoemThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - World mourns the death of Prince Philip The Hill's Morning Report - Biden assails 'epidemic' of gun violence amid SC, Texas shootings Five things to watch for at the GOP's donor retreat MORE (R) in South Dakota still has not imposed a mask mandate, amid one of the worst outbreaks in the country.

The correlation is not perfect. Outbreaks are now worsening almost everywhere in the United States, across a wide range of varying policies. New Mexico, for example, stands out for having a bad outbreak amid tougher restrictions. 

There is evidence, though, that restrictions help turn the situation around. Over the summer, Texas, Arizona and Florida, facing worsening outbreaks, closed their bars, a move seen as helping lead to the case counts then lowering.

And after some European countries recently imposed lockdowns again, new cases are now dropping there. 

President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden eyes bigger US role in global vaccination efforts Trump says GOP will take White House in 2024 in prepared speech Kemp: Pulling All-Star game out of Atlanta will hurt business owners of color MORE has called for evidence-based national guidelines for when businesses should open or close depending on the level of infection in the area, as opposed to the piecemeal approach that has governed the U.S. so far.

“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,” Thomas Hale, an Oxford researcher leading the tracking effort, told The New York Times. “I think timing really matters for the decisions.”