UPDATED 7:43 PM PT – Tuesday, January 19, 2021
Despite California’s strict lockdown measures in response to the pandemic, it appears to be fairing just as well and by many metrics worse than Florida, which has implemented more lenient measures.
According to recent CDC data, both states have a similar number of new daily cases per 100 thousand people, with both sitting at around 7 thousand.
Despite this, there are major differences between how Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-Calif.) and Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) have responded to the virus. Chief among those differences has been their approach to economic lockdowns.
Throughout the pandemic, the Golden State has been among the strictest when it came to shutting down its economy. In March, Newsom ordered a statewide lockdown, shuttering all non-essential businesses and ordering all Californians to stay at home except for essential travel. Throughout the course of 2020, he maintained strict orders for certain counties, all but ignoring the economic consequences.
Our ICUs are climbing quickly toward their capacity. Our death rate is rising.
To slow the surge of #COVID19 and save lives, CA is introducing a Regional Stay-At-Home Order.
Regions where ICU capacity⁰fall below 15% will be placed into this Stay-at-Home Order ⁰for 3 weeks.
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) December 3, 2020
In contrast, DeSantis has refused to place the Sunshine State under such restrictions after his initial lockdown orders.
“The idea that somehow you can just shut everything down, hide and then it goes away, we know that’s not how it works,” DeSantis said. “It’s not like a hurricane, you can hunker down, it passes, you come out. We knew that we had to just keep society functioning.”
Unlike Newsom, who has shut down public schools across the state, DeSantis has refused to shut down schools, instead allowing parents to choose whether or not to allow their children to take part in in-person learning. Over 60 percent of parents in Florida have opted out of the online schooling approach.
Currently, the vast majority of California’s public school students have been learning remotely amid mounting evidence that distant learning has been detrimental to the education of students. Some reports have placed the number of failing grades as much as two or three times higher than they were pre-pandemic.
In terms of the pandemic’s impact on each state’s residents, things are relatively similar despite California’s strict measures.