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Final Report Card on State Responses to COVID-19


Best Performers: Utah, Vermont, Nebraska, and Florida

Worst Performers: New Jersey, New York, California, and Illinois

(Washington, D.C.) The Committee To Unleash Prosperity (CUP) has released the most comprehensive analysis to date on how states handled the COVID-19 crisis. These results have also been published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

The Report Card on the States measures and compares state performance on three metrics: the economy, education, and mortality from the virus. It answers the question: how did states do in balancing the health of their citizens, allowing their economies to remain operational and keeping job losses low, and keeping their schools open so that school-aged children did not suffer long term educational setbacks.

Each of these three metrics were equally weighted. The states that received an F grade were New Jersey, New York, California, Illinois and Washington, D.C. These states performed poorly on every measure. They had high age-adjusted death rates; they had high unemployment and significant GDP losses, and they kept their schools shutdown much longer than almost all other states.

 The top performers were Utah, Nebraska, and Vermont with Montana and Florida right behind. 

The study verifies other studies which have found that locking down businesses, stores, churches, schools, and restaurants had almost no impact on health outcomes across states. States with strict lockdowns had virtually no better performance in Covid death rates than states that remained mostly open for business.

The study also found that keeping schools closed had almost no impact on the death rates of children or adults, but it did severe damage to the educational progress of students.

“Shutting down their economies and schools was by far the biggest mistake governors and state officials made during Covid, particularly in blue states,” said CUP Co-Founder Stephen Moore. “We hope the results of this study will persuade governors not to close schools and businesses the next time we have a new virus variant.”

The states that locked down their economies have had unemployment rates on average about two percentage points higher than states that did not engage in severe lockdowns. These high state unemployment rates have persisted for two years now. Most lockdown states have still not fully recovered t the jobs lost in the early months of Covid.

Throughout the pandemic many in the media compared two of America’s four largest states: California and Florida.  Florida was often times criticized by health officials and the media for remaining open and California was often praised for remaining locked down. This study shows that the death rate in the states when adjusting for age and other comorbidities were nearly the same. But Florida’s economy performed much better than California’s, and Florida kids lost far fewer days of schooling than did kids in California.

The government’s most effective role during the height of the pandemic was racing to find vaccines and treatments and giving citizens the most accurate and up to date information about risks and how to keep families, workers, and children healthy.

You can read the full study here:

Read the expanded study from NBER:

Unleash Prosperity Hotline


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