- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 24, 2020

Amid the political quarrel over when to reopen states and who handled coronavirus best, the latest data shows that the highest per-capita death rates from COVID-19 are in Democrat-run states.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo won glowing reviews in the news media for his handling of the state at the epicenter of the crisis, though the reviews have started to dim.

Republican governors, however, were vilified for moving slowly to order total lockdowns or being the first to lift restrictions.

And yet, only two GOP-led states, Massachusetts and Maryland, ranked in the top 10 states with the highest per capita fatalities, according to Johns Hopkins University data compiled last week by the National Review.

The list is dominated by Democratic governors and East Coast states, and it includes major population centers such as Washington:

• New York with more than 28,000 deaths had about 146 coronavirus deaths per 100,000 residents.

• New Jersey had more than 10,500 deaths, or 119 per 100,000.

• Connecticut had more than 3,400 death, or 97 per 100,000.

• Massachusetts had more than 5,900 deaths, or 86 per 100,000.

• The District of Columbia had more than 400 deaths, or 57 per 100,000.

• Louisiana had more than 2,500 deaths, or 55 per 100,000.

• Michigan had more than 5,000 deaths, or 50.23 per 100,000.

• Rhode Island had more than 500 deaths, or 50.21 per 100,000.

• Pennsylvania had more than 4,600 deaths, or 36 per 100,000.

• Maryland rounded out the list with more than 2,100 deaths, or 35 per 100,000.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, pushed back this week against media pundits who suggested his state, which has the second-highest elderly population in the U.S., would be the next New York because the elderly have the highest hospitalization and death rates. Mr. DeSantis weathered blistering criticism in March for not immediately shutting down beaches and businesses.

“The data is transparent,” he told reporters with Vice President Mike Pence at his side. “Florida has the absolute best data, so any insinuation otherwise is just typical partisan, narrative trying to be spun.”

Florida has recorded more than 2,100 deaths from COVID-19, or roughly 1 per 100,000 residents.

“We have a way lower death rate generally,” Mr. DeSantis said. “We succeeded and people just don’t want to recognize it because it challenges their narrative. It challenges their assumption.”

However, blue states also are the most diverse and densely populated states across the country, which could explain why they have the highest per-capita death rates.

“Florida is less dense than other parts of the country. However, there have been some concerning developments regarding county-wide outbreaks in Florida and problems with testing that warrant caution when interpreting emerging data,” said George Mason University epidemiologist Amira Albert Roess.

She said that there are many unknowns as the nation is still in the midst of the pandemic. But health care systems can be devastated by infectious disease outbreaks in densely populated areas such as New York and New Jersey.

“It’s likely that the virus became established earlier in New Jersey and New York than in Florida and other parts of the country,” Ms. Roess said.

• S.A. Miller can be reached at smiller@washingtontimes.com.

• Alex Swoyer can be reached at aswoyer@washingtontimes.com.

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