We are getting to the point when we can compare the effects of different policy reactions to Coronavirus. Let’s take a look, for example, at Texas versus Wisconsin. I still have a lot of family and friends in Texas, so I see a lot of their news too.
The two states responded differently. Here in Wisconsin, we locked down the state and continue to stay locked down. We are ordered to stay at home and any “non-essential” businesses are closed. It is statewide. In Texas, they took a more localized approach. Governor Abbott said, “I am governor of 254 counties in the state of Texas,” he said. “What may be right for places like the large urban areas may not be right at this time for more than two hundred counties that have zero cases of COVID-19.” While the State of Texas imposed some more stringent restrictions on people coming to the state, like mandatory quarantine for people coming into the state from the hot spot areas of New York and Louisiana, the decision to shut down, shelter in place, etc. and the specifics of those orders were left to the individual counties. The result was that counties imposed restrictions as the spread impact their areas and local leaders are accountable to their constituents for the impact of those decisions.
So we have two different policy choices. Wisconsin had a “one size fits all” response that shut down virtually everything. Texas has a more nuanced, localized response that had a few statewide actions, but primarily left it to local policy makers. What are the results?
As of today, Wisconsin has 182 dead out of a population of 5.882 million. That’s a death rate of 0.003094185%.
Texas has 364 dead out of a population of 29 million. That’s a death rate of 0.001255172% .
Despite the fact that Texas has an international border, much more international and national travel, a much larger population of black folks (black folks are being disproportionately impacted by this disease), and shares a border with a hot spot state (Louisiana), Texas has about 40% of the death rate of Wisconsin.
“We will focus on restoring lives while protecting livelihoods. We can and we must do this, we can do both. Expand and restore the livelihoods that Texans want to have by helping them return to work,” Abbott said. “One things about Texans is they so much enjoy working and I know they want to get back into the work force. But we have to articulate also the strategies about ways we can do this safely.”
Governor Evers is mute on opening the Wisconsin economy.
These policy choices will have an impact far more reaching than just this crisis. Business owners will remember who had their back during the crisis. Wisconsin’s economy has been lagging Texas’ for years. Once this is over, the disparity will widen as businesses continue to open and move to states that support business.