My take: Covid deaths and a tale of 2 states

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Hello everyone,

It is far too early to declare victory in the battle against Covid-19 and its variants.

Still, we are on the downslope of the Omicron surge. Masks are off and mandatory vaccinations for employment have largely gone away, the major exception being health care. The Sunday report from the Delaware Division of Public Health reported no people in critical condition for the first time in recent memory.

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The Friday report from DPH was more somber. A review of Vital Statistics and one new fatality added another 54 deaths and boosted Delaware’s toll past the 2,800 mark. Of the 54 who died, more than 70% were unvaccinated. About 7% had no underlying health conditions.

It could have been worse.

A comparison of Covid death rates in the 50 states, Puerto Rico and D.C. from Statistica shows Delaware among the one-third of jurisdictions with the lowest rates. That’s a vast improvement from the early days of the pandemic when the state was hovering around the top 10.

Government-imposed restrictions during the first surge that led to critics to call the governor “King Carney” helped, even if some mandates seemed to make little sense.

A rough comparison with my home state of Arizona shows that its decision to end mandates early and a large number of vaccine skeptics contributed to grim results. Arizona ranks second in its rate of deaths per 100,000 residents. Florida fared better but ended up 17th.

Despite its popularity as a retirement destination, Arizona has a younger population than Delaware. That alone should have held down fatalities. There were other factors at work in Arizona including high poverty rates, especially among Native Americans.

Still, it is likely that had Delaware gone down Arizona’s path, the virus could have claimed an additional 500 to 1,000 lives.

It is true that the Arizona economy is seeing a more rapid economic recovery, news that will be pointed out by critics of Delaware’s policies. Delaware’s jobless rate is 1% higher than Arizona’s figure as of January.

There is also the toll that came from social isolation, addiction, the limitations of remote schooling, and other impacts. We will learn if Arizona, Mississippi, and other states with fewer restrictions fared any better.

For now, we are left with the troubling question of whether a thousand fewer deaths would have justified a 1% lower jobless rate. – Doug Rainey, chief content officer

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