California And Florida Took Diverging Pandemic Paths. Who Did It Better?

Caitie Switalski Muñoz (WLRN), Marisa Lagos (KQED):

From the outset of the coronavirus pandemic, the governors of California and Florida have taken almost polar opposite approaches to managing an unprecedented health crisis: California Gov. Gavin Newsom shut down his state early, prioritizing public health; Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis largely kept his state open for business, prioritizing the economy.

California just fully reopened Tuesday, while Florida has been open all year, save for a short lockdown last spring.

The split that mirrors the political divisions that have bedeviled the United States during the pandemic — with both sides claiming victory at various times. But now, more than a year of data is offering some clear takeaways on which state’s approach has produced better outcomes on a number of fronts.

Florida’s economy is in better shape than California’s — for now. California is just now starting to enjoy a bounce as it reopens. My crystal ball said Florida’s economy will suffer for years from the human costs of failing to contain COVID quickly.

And in the immediate term, Florida’s laxness resulted in thousands of needless deaths.