A new study published on Monday graded states on their response to the COVID-19 outbreak through metrics including the economy, education, and mortality from the virus, examining how states and their respective governments handled the pandemic response, finding Florida to be ranked among the top ranks.
Committee To Unleash Prosperity, a right-leaning think tank designed to “coordinate the various free-market policy thinkers and minimize factionalism,” found that Utah, Nebraska, Vermont, and Florida were the states that best dealt with the pandemic.
The Sunshine State was registered as having similar mortality rates as California while faring much better in terms of economic activity and minimal educational disruption. The study cites a lack of hardline lockdowns that low-scoring states endured as boosting Florida’s performance.
New York ranked 33rd for the least impact on education and 49th in economic performance. California was ranked 50th for its education disruptions and 40th for the economy. Comparatively, Florida was the third highest-rated state for impact on education and 13th in economic performance.
“Shutting down their economies and schools was by far the biggest mistake governors and state officials made during COVID, particularly in blue states,” Stephen Moore, one of the study’s authors, said.
Throughout the pandemic, Gov. Ron DeSantis maintained opposition to the implementation of additional and unnecessary lockdowns in an effort to reopen and stabilize the economy. Florida experienced a sharp rebound in economic activity and low unemployment numbers as a result. Furthermore, Florida last fall committed to bringing schoolchildren back onto school grounds, outpacing many states in doing so.
“The study verifies other studies which have found that locking down businesses, stores, churches, schools, and restaurants had almost no impact on health outcomes across states,” the report determined. “States with strict lockdowns had virtually no better performance in COVID death rates than states that remained mostly open for business.”
According to the study, keeping schools closed had no bearing on any heightened death counts that may have presented over the course of 2021.
“The states that locked down their economies have had unemployment rates on average about two percentage points higher than states that did not engage in severe lockdowns,” states the study. “These high state unemployment rates have persisted for two years now. Most lockdown states have still not fully recovered the jobs lost in the early months of COVID.”
In the timeframe between January 2021 and January 2022, Florida’s unemployment rate decreased by 2.5 percentage points, placing the state near the top of the list of states with the lowest unemployment rates, only trailing the likes of Alabama, Vermont, and New Hampshire.
Florida’s February 2022 unemployment data, the latest available data from the Florida Department of Economic Activity, was reported as 3.3 percent, marking the 15th consecutive month that the state has maintained an unemployment rate lower than the national average of 4 percent, and going on nearly two years of job growth that outpaces the national average.