Old South-West Coast update
A quick update on the analysis I posted last Saturday comparing the COVID-19 performance of six Republican-led Old South states with the three West Coast states led by Democratic governors:
A week ago, the regional comparison looked like this:
Today, based on the latest data available from all nine states’ public health websites, the regional comparison looks like this:
A week ago, the Old South states already had nearly 6,000 more confirmed cases than the West Coast, but still had fewer deaths. In the six days since I pulled that first batch of data, the numbers of confirmed cases and deaths have increased at a much more rapid pace in the Old South than on the West Coast, which bore the initial brunt of the COVID-19 onslaught.
Confirmed cases are up 74.4 percent across the Old South states versus 54.4 percent on the West Coast. But the change in the death counts is even more dramatic. A week ago, the Old South still trailed the West Coast in that category, but since then COVID-19 deaths across the south have shot up by 121.4 percent versus 80.8 percent in the west; as a result, the Old South now has significantly more deaths than the West Coast.
As I acknowledged in last week’s report, there are several obvious differences between the two regions and their various states. The Old South is both less healthy and more religious than the West Coast; it is plagued by comorbidities that constitute the kind of underlying medical conditions that make people more vulnerable to the virus, and its residents have been slower to give up the kind of large religious gatherings that are now recognized as breeding grounds for COVID-19.
Another obvious difference, though, has been in the public policy approach to tackling the virus. The Democratic governors on the West Coast acted earlier and more decisively than their Republican Old South counterparts to shut down their states, as I detailed in last week’s post.
The current state-by-state results look like this:
Georgia now has the highest COVID-19 infection and mortality rate of any of the Old South states, and is second only to Washington, whose Seattle outbreak was one of the nation’s first epicenters, among the nine states. Georgia’s poor numbers are driven in significant measure by the degree to which the virus has ravaged nearly a dozen counties in deep southwest Georgia.
I hope to flesh out the Georgia situation in another post over the weekend.