Friday, January 22, 2021

The Sunshine State of Mind

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There was never a discussion about how to best fight the coronavirus in this country.

From the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic last February, public health experts and their media megaphones insisted there was no choice in the matter. You lock down or more people die… No questions allowed.

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That meant taking the most extreme measures – closing businesses, instituting stay-at-home orders, and shutting down normal human interaction. The costs of those measures were downplayed. It was “Listen to Dr. Fauci or embrace catastrophe.”

This mantra has led to dozens of states locking down for months, despite the enormous economic and social costs.

But was there actually an alternative to this nuclear option, this break-the-glass approach to a public health challenge? Despite what you may have heard… yes, there was.

And Florida has run a real-life experiment to prove it.

I just came back from a week of vacation in Miami, and the pandemic situation in Florida is being handled very differently from New York (or California). And what the corporate media and the lockdown liberals don’t want you to know is that Florida has been much better at handling the pandemic than Democrat-run states of similar size.

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This issue hits home for me… I’ve had months of misery due to the lockdown in NYC and all the arbitrary rules and capricious closures. The restaurant industry has been gutted. Hotels are being used as homeless shelters.

My hometown is being ruined, and the powers that be tell us we have no choice… But that’s just not true.

Having spent time in Manhattan and now Miami during major COVID-19 spikes, I’m more convinced than ever that the “lockdowners” have it wrong. Shutting down society as the primary policy tool to stop COVID was a massive blunder. The benefits are minimal at best, while the costs are certain and severe.

I was in South Beach, Miami for the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Unlike the depressing, cold wasteland of New York City during the pandemic, Miami is absolutely vibrant. Restaurants and stores of all kinds are open. In fact, it was difficult to get dinner reservations because of the high volume of visitors. The boardwalk on Ocean Drive was packed every night.

This is not to say it’s a free-for-all in Florida. There are still precautions taken, including (somewhat lax) mask mandates from businesses and plenty of public reminder notices for everyone to “social distance.”

But life in Miami feels a lot more normal than it does in New York City. And it’s not just the warmer weather. If that were the case, why is California also so much worse off with COVID cases than Florida?

Miamians are generally allowed to live their lives, whereas Los Angelinos and New Yorkers have largely had that choice taken out of their hands.

When you look at the data, the argument becomes even stronger… Florida has a population of about 21 million, whereas New York has around 19 million. Total Florida COVID-19 deaths: 22,000. New York state has 38,000. And Florida never locked down.

This should all be encouraging. It turns out that the most extreme lockdown measures may not have been a good idea, which means we could all open up a lot faster.

Although you wouldn’t know it from the way the media treats Florida’s Governor DeSantis. They act like his state’s COVID response has been a catastrophe. They ignore the numbers and push a narrative. It’s all politics for them, even during a pandemic.

But there’s a reason so many thousands of New Yorkers are fleeing south to Florida (along with Tennessee, the Carolinas, and other lower-tax, higher-quality-of-life states). We are seeing a very real experiment in leadership play out in real time during this pandemic.

Americans are voting with their feet. Red states are coming out on top. Florida in particular is winning. And the rest of the country should take note as to why.

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