The Trump era American political media was always going to be affected by the Coronavirus era. National Interest to finally bring a stop to the 90%-plus unfavourable coverage of the Trump administration? Not on your life.
This article from the Guardian USA was begging to be exposed as a highly-politicised Coronavirus narrative. Such a minor piece, minor subject, yet highly politicised as is the way of things these days. Neverending.
It was meant to praise a Democrat Kentucky Governor Beshear for his efforts but then compare him favourably with a neighbouring Republican Governor. Sounds easy enough, get the facts and statistics, interview a few people to show how well Kentucky was (and is) doing compared with neighbouring Tennessee and that’s it, write it up. This was the heading.
The problem with this particular plan is that you had better get the statistics onside before you claim so boldly what you think you have found.
The whole article can be found here and its evidence in praise of the Democrat Governor of Kentucky is pretty basic and found early on. A “Man of the People” descrfiption, his calling of a Coronavirus emergency on 6 March, getting schools to close from March 16 and on that day closing bars and restaurants. Further, as the Guardian puts it:
“on the 19th he banned all mass gatherings, including church services; and on the 22nd he announced the closure of all businesses that were not “life sustaining”
Andrew Cuomo-like conferences early on, with a lot of good talks to Kentucky people about what they had to do, describe what the danger was etc. Many governors would do that I suspect, but these were the moves and times the Kentucky governor chose.
The nominated “rival” Governor of Tennessee, Bill Lee wasn’t so sure such actions were needed as early as in Kentucky and he held off with sweeping bans for a week. Yes a week later. His reasoning was described this way,
While Lee issued recommendations for Tennesseans to avoid crowds, he said no mandates were necessary to keep them apart, that the state’s residents could be trusted to do their part without government interference.
What is only mentioned later is that the capital Nashville, Memphis and Knoxville had their own health departments and they made decisions about closures on health grounds and didn’t have to get Governor Lee’s approval. That makes a lot of the supposed comparisons re the actual “changes”, less stark, I suggest.
A “defence” of Tennessee is this
Tennessee has conducted more testing and has a higher population and Winter, the epidemiologist, says it’s more useful to look at hospitalizations, though that data is harder to acquire
Hospitalisations are compared at the end of this article.
Tennessee is reopening and closures will not extend beyond April 30, joining other neighbouring (Republican) states Georgia and South Carolina
Comparisons with results of each state
Did Kentucky do any better? Obviously not under most categories.
From the Corona Tracking Project we see the following statistics
Total testing: Hospitalisation (Culmative) Deaths
Kentucky 42,844 1115 191
Tennessee 123,100 793 170
Cases per Mil Deaths p/m Tests p/m
Kentucky 784 43 9.649
Tennessee 1,243 28 18,508
So, do these statistics show backing for the headline? Hardly. Kentucky might have acted earlier and the opinions of the state citizens might be favourable to Governor Beshear. However, while statistics show more cases per million for Tennessee (1,243 v 784) the testing is nearly 2-to-one to Tennessee (18, 508 v 9649). Deaths are also lower in Tennessee.
Note, not that any of this matters. This was just a partisan article, perhaps a neighbouring states partisanship, but the effort of each state is no doubt done in good faith by those governors. If the Guardian article was as political as it seems, it was so shoddy that it fell apart at first analysis. For the immediate future, take note of this Cuomo reference about antibody tests. It just might (and possibly will) have historians arguing how wasteful was this shutdown policyFollow