WMU study: Politics determined how states responded to COVID

Researchers found that politics played a primary role in COVID prevention measures such as stay-at-home orders and mask mandates.

Some states have treated the coronavirus as a nuisance to be tolerated. Others, such as Michigan, instituted prevention measures early, requiring businesses to close and people to stay at home.

Researchers at Western Michigan University have determined that a major factor in those decisions was political.

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Professors Dr. Matthew Mingus and Dr. Kevin Corder, along with graduate student Daria Blinova, looked specifically at shelter-in-place-orders, or SIPOs. They measured the amount of time between when cases of COVID-19 reached one in 100,000 people in a state and when that state issued a SIPO.

States where Democrats were in charge of the pandemic response enacted SIPOs an average of one week earlier than those where Republicans were in charge. Eight states – all with Republican governors – have never issued SIPOs.

That time span resulted in worse outcomes for the states that waited longer to respond to the virus.

Corder said that politics has always factored into pandemic response in the U.S.

“There was resistance to compulsory vaccinations for Smallpox 100 years ago, and the Supreme Court stepped in to clarify that the public health gains of vaccination outweighed the civil liberty of refusing a vaccine,” he said. “The question of balancing government powers to vaccinate, quarantine and track against privacy – individual control over medical care – and personal freedom is not new.”

The findings were published in September in the journal Policy Design and Practice.

You can read more at WMU News.

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