The Covid-19 pandemic, like almost everything else in America, has prompted a slew of heated, contentious debates: over masks, distance, and vaccines. Lockdowns are no different. Many Americans seemed to believe that the more a government restricts meetings, imposes masks, inhibits business activity, and urges residents to stay at home, the more economic harm it will do.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, rose to national prominence by permitting bars and restaurants to run at total capacity indoors during America’s horrible Christmas surge, then virtually banning mask laws once the state recovered — all in the name of promoting business. For much of the past year, however, several experts have discreetly advanced a counterargument: that economic activity is primarily influenced by the intensity of the pandemic itself, not the relative rigor with which mitigation measures are taken.
The release of a new analysis by economists at the University of California, Los Angeles, bolstered this case last week. According to the most recent quarterly UCLA Anderson Forecast, larger States with more stringent Covid-19 regulations not only concluded 2020 with fewer illnesses per capita, but they also had greater economic growth last year than States with fewer restrictions. To put it another way, California’s economy fared better than Florida’s.