Two of the country’s largest states – California and Texas – have handled the COVID-19 pandemic in very different ways but with somewhat similar results.
Alexandra Suich Bass compared the pandemic responses in America’s largest red state and in the largest blue one for The Economist. She says there have been a large number of deaths in Texas, but the economic toll has been higher in California, where residents have experienced near “constant” lockdowns as well as high infection and death rates.
“One of the people I interviewed said California is the worst of both worlds. There have been lots of lockdowns and economic sacrifices, and yet the death rate has also been high,” she said.
It’s possible California is struggling from more cases of new COVID-19 variants, which could make it harder to stem the spread.
Meanwhile, in Texas, Suich Bass says the state likely opened up too soon, which could account for its high death and infection rates. But its economy is doing better, which she says has helped Texas. Gov. Greg Abbott.
“I think ultimately he pleased his base with his decision to reopen so quickly, even faster than Trump was suggesting at the end of last spring. And I think that’s gotten him a little bit of tolerance and support from the people who most matter to him,” she said.
It’s still too soon to know exactly which decisions have helped and hurt both States. But Suich Bass says an approach that’s a combination of the two may have helped keep both economies going while slowing virus spread.
What is known, she says, is the pandemic has been a “technology disaster” for both states and the federal government, and something they will all have address going forward.
“We saw systems crash at the beginning of the pandemic when we were trying to get information about hospitalizations and deaths. I think this has not only been a public health disaster, but a technology disaster for America,” she said.