According to a new COVID-19 state response study by the supply-side economic non-profit group Committee to Unleash Prosperity (CUP) released on Monday, California came in as the fifth worst performing state or district and was one of only 6 states to get a “F” failing grade.
CUP’s Report Card on the States measured and compared state pandemic performance based on the economy, education, and mortality from the virus. Equally weighted, the report looked into how the states did 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.
California ultimately received an “F” grade. Among the metric’s, California’s industry-adjusted unemployment rate during the pandemic of 4.8% came in 47th place out of 51, with the state’s industry-adjusted GDP dropping only -2% ranking it 21st. However, a 40th place -0.63 economy average and second worst in the nation 19.2% in-school percentage greatly hurt the state. California only avoided an ‘”F-” rating by scoring relatively well in the three health rankings, including California having the 18th lowest number of COVID-19 deaths per 100,000 people in the U.S., 33rd place in all cause excess deaths, and a 27th place -0.07 mortality average.
California’s final scaled combined score was 15.5. The state only beat out “F-” finishers New York, the District of Columbia, and last-place New Jersey, as well as fellow “F” finisher New Mexico. Illinois, the only other “F” finisher, came in just a few points ahead of California.
A total of 9 states received an “A” ranking, with first-place Utah, Nebraska, and Vermont receiving an “A+” grade. The other six with “A” grades included Montana, South Dakota, Florida, New Hampshire, Maine, and Arkansas.
California comes in 47th out of 51
Overall, the study found that locking down businesses, stores, churches, schools, and restaurants had almost no impact on health outcomes across states. States like California, which had strict lockdowns, ultimately showed that they had no better performance in COVID-19 death rates than states that remained mostly open for business. Keeping schools closed was also found to have no impact on the death rates of children or adults, while also leading to greater damage in educational progress.
“Shutting down their economies and schools was by far the biggest mistake governors and state officials made during COVID, particularly in blue states,” explained CUP Co-Founder Stephen Moore on Monday. “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.”
While many experts said that other factors should be taken into account to give a more complete ranking, many noted that the CUP study did verify where many of the COVID-19 trends had been going since the pandemic began in March 2020.
“Most Californians knew that keeping schools and businesses locked down and having mandates imposed for so long would be detrimental,” said James Morrison, a Los Angeles based post-COVID-19 research assistant, to the Globe on Monday. “I mean, statewide masking mandates were lifted way later here than in other states. Statewide, school masks were only lifted in February, with many districts keeping them another month.”
“But the study makes sense too. Why is unemployment still high with the economy being hurt? Because lock-downs squeezed businesses so much with some going out of business, shrinking the number of available jobs. Why is school performance going down? We kept them out of schools for so long and at home where education retention was lower.”
“And, you know, credit goes to healthcare in California for really stepping up and preventing a total disaster, but even there the pandemic could have been a lot more mitigated if pandemic emergency preparedness initiatives passed by Republicans in the late 2000’s had not been budgeted out by Democrats.
“In total though, the study reaffirms a lot.”
Other post-COVID studies are expected to be released later this year, further highlighting what went right and wrong in California during the pandemic.