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Missouri Gov. Mike Parson

Photo by Office of Missouri Governor/ CC BY-SA 2.0

Six months ago, the Washington Post published an op-ed under the names of five Republican governors who bragged that their states had stayed open and thrived despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, half a year later, most of those governors' states are seeing the worst spikes in the numbers of new coronavirus cases and COVID-19 deaths in the country.


The May 5 column ran with the headline, "Our states stayed open in the covid-19 pandemic. Here's why our approach worked." Govs. Mark Gordon of Wyoming, Pete Ricketts of Nebraska, Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, Kim Reynolds of Iowa, and Mike Parson of Missouri claimed that their decision to take a more laissez-faire approach to the economy in their states during the pandemic was "based on sound medical and social science" and "created a model for success that can be applied throughout the country."

All but Missouri's Parson were among the handful of governors who refused to issue any statewide stay-at-home orders in response to the pandemic against the recommendations of public health officials.

"The core reasons our states are open for business are the tenacity, grit and heart of our residents," the governors boasted. "Their clear-eyed, common-sense approach helped keep our states on track and have set us up to come out of this pandemic stronger than ever. We look forward to leading the way."

But by May 15, data was already showing Iowa and Nebraska with caseloads among the nation's largest per capita and spikes in the numbers of new infections and deaths.

By September, Iowa was leading the nation with the highest average daily number of new cases.

According to data published by the Washington Post, Iowa currently ranks third, behind only the Dakotas, in states with the highest number of new infections per capita, with 964 cases per 100,000 people reported in the last week. Wyoming (ranked fifth-worst, with 771 cases per 100,000) and Nebraska (seventh-worst, with 745 cases per 100,000) were not doing much better. Arkansas (15th-worst, with 505 cases per 100,000) and Missouri (23rd-worst, with 342 cases per 100,000) were also among the states with the worst outbreaks in the country.

According to the same data analysis, Wyoming had the fifth-most deaths in the country per capita in the past week. Iowa had the seventh-most, Nebraska tied for 11th-most, and Missouri had the 14th-most deaths in the country.

The nation has been repeatedly setting records for the largest number of new daily cases ever as the coronavirus continues to spread uncontrolled.

Gordon, Reynolds, Ricketts, and Hutchinson have said in recent days that they are considering new restrictions to combat the virus as cases spike.

Meanwhile Parson announced last week he would loosen school safety rules.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.

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Reprinted with permission from The American Prospect

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