Perhaps the best example of a large state succeeding amid this crisis is conservative Gov. Ron DeSantis’s Florida. Florida is larger in population than New York, more disproportionately elderly, visited by more potentially infected tourists, and (as of the last census) its population is more concentrated in urban areas. Yet somehow, in spite of all these disadvantages, Florida’s death rate from the coronavirus is roughly half that of the Empire State. (Before you leap to attribute this to the sunny weather, note that Arizona, Louisiana, and Mississippi are all in the top 10 for death rate, whereas frigid Vermont, Idaho, Maine, and Utah are near the bottom.)
If the goal were to minimize coronavirus deaths while also maximizing the openness of one’s state, the numbers bear out DeSantis’s success. In addition to having a much lower death rate, Florida had 25% fewer hospitalizations and 25% fewer new cases as of the end of January. In contrast to Cuomo’s heavy-handed vaccination policies, which had hospitals doing all the heavy lifting and resulted in many doses being thrown out rather than given to the “wrong” people, DeSantis has created drive-thru testing and vaccination sites and expects to administer more than 300,000 shots this week.