“Today” Show: Why do States With More Restrictions Have More Coronavirus Cases Than States With Less Restrictions?

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We’ve been wrestling with this question on this very site for a few weeks now. NBC offers three theories in the clips below, none of them very persuasive.

One: Maybe the states with fewer cases are just doing less testing. Essentially they’d have you believe that the decline across the south is a mirage, that COVID is possibly just as bad there as it is in the northeast but that no one has any inkling of it because they aren’t testing enough people to find out. It’s true that southern states have done less testing by and large than northern ones have, but Louisiana ranks 15th out of 50 states in tests per capita and it’s seen its cases decline for months. Even in states with limited testing, the positivity rate should give us some clue as to whether cases are rising or falling. And in TexasCalifornia, and Arizona, to take just three examples, the positivity rate is way, way off its winter peak.

The acid test is hospitalizations, though. If there’s a genuine surge of cases in the population, that should eventually translate into a surge in hospitalizations. It has in Michigan, the worst-hit state in the union. But in Texas, hospitalizations are still dropping nearly a month after the mask mandate and capacity limits on businesses were lifted. It’s not a mirage. Cases really are down there.

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