Just because COVID-19 initially hit Washington and New York is currently the epicenter, the idea that decadent coastal urban enclaves are uniquely vulnerable to the pandemic doesn’t mean that interior red states aren’t similarly vulnerable to the pandemic, and the lack of urgency of Trumpian governors will just make things worse:
Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) doesn’t seem to have a sense of urgency about implementing a similar order in her state.
“Y’all, we are not Louisiana, we are not New York state, we are not California,” she said on Thursday, according to the Montgomery Advertiser. “Right now is not the time to order people to shelter in place.”
In terms of raw case totals, that’s true. Data from Johns Hopkins University compiled through Thursday show that Alabama’s case total is in the hundreds, compared with thousands of cases in Louisiana and California and tens of thousands in New York.
Over the past seven days, the number of confirmed cases in California has increased by an average of 22 percent each day. The number of cases in Louisiana has grown by an average of 29 percent. In New York, the rate has averaged 33 percent — slightly higher than the 32 percent average increase in Alabama.
In other words, the virus has been spreading nearly as fast in Alabama as in New York over the past week. The number of cases in New York from March 19 through Thursday grew by more than 32,000, a 606 percent increase. In Alabama, 439 new cases were added in that period, but that was a spike of 563 percent.
Remember that New York is also more populous than Alabama. This has been a subtext to a lot of the debate over how to limit the spread of the virus, an assumption that less densely populated places have something of a defense against it. If we control for population, though, we see that Alabama is adding new cases relative to its population faster than New York did. Not as fast as Louisiana, but quickly.
Even discriminatory support from Trump will only be able to do so much in states where governors want the churches packed on Easter Sunday. For this reason, I would also read almost nothing into the modest rally effect Trump is getting right now; some of this approval is coming from places where people are being told this will be over soon but in fact it will be getting exponentially worse.
Of course, not all of the bad leadership is coming from red states — this summary of de Blasio’s actions and inactions is devastating.