Virginia’s COVID Performance Rates a D

Source: The Committee to Unleash Prosperity

by James A. Bacon

Virginia performed worse than 35 other states during the COVID-19 recession, based on an analysis that encompasses mortality rates, economic performance and educational performance. The Commonwealth fared better than average in health outcomes, worse than average in economic performance, and near the bottom in school closures. The overall ranking: D.

Nationally, there was little correlation, however, between the stringency of economic and school-related COVID lockdowns and health outcomes, finds the study, “A Final Report Card on the States’ Response to COVID-19,” published by the National Bureau of Economic Research. The authors were Phil Kerpen, Stephen Moore, and Casey B. Mulligan, all well-known free-market economists.

Former Governor Ralph Northam, a physician, can take some comfort in the fact that Virginia under his watch performed better than most other states in the COVID-related mortality rate when adjustments were made for age and the prevalence of obesity and diabetes risk factors in the population — 10th best in the nation.

However, when the perspective shifts to “all cause excess deaths,” which captures the mortality effects of lockdown policies such as higher drug and alcohol deaths, suicides, and foregone medical treatments, Virginia’s national ranking falls to 19th.

To gauge the severity of state COVID-lockdown policies, the authors developed an economic score encompassing unemployment and GDP components in 2020 and 2021, and an educational score, as measured by the cumulative percentage of in-person education, in the 2020-2021 school year.

Three states — Utah, Nebraska, and Vermont — rated an A+ ranking. Six others scored A, nine a B, 12 a C, 15 a D, and six an F. New York, Washington, D.C., and New Jersey rated F-.

Virginia’s adjusted economic rank was 33rd in the nation, indicating economic performance that was weaker than the national average over the course of the the pandemic.

Cumulative in-person education ranked 44th in the country.

The authors do not make the case that any particular mix of lockdown policies, with one exception, was better or worse than others. Rather, they argue that the overall severity of lockdown policies, as measured by economic impact and school closures, had no discernible impact on adjusted mortality rates.

Virginia’s position on the graph is highlighted in yellow.

The graph above shows the correlation between health scores and economic scores. The regression line suggests that the correlation is “essentially zero.”

Another graph published in the study shows a modest positive correlation between school closures and health scores. The authors acknowledge the possibility of a correlation but argue that it is weak, citing a meta-analysis that concluded U.S. and European school lockdowns reduced COVID-19 mortality by only 0.2% on average.

Offsetting this modest benefit, the authors write, are negative long-term economic and health consequences not captured in the short-term figures. A National Institutes of Health analysis found that life expectancy for high school graduates is 4 to 6 years longer than high school dropouts. The OECD estimates that learning losses from pandemic-era school closures could cause a 3% decline in lifetime earnings.

The authors do point to one COVID-lockdown policy that could have had a measurable effect, but it was negative. Citing a comprehensive study showing that COVID-19 disproportionately occurred in nursing homes, they suggested that states that transferred COVID patients from hospitals to nursing homes, such as New York and New Jersey, performed worse in the mortality rankings.

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14 responses to “Virginia’s COVID Performance Rates a D”

  1. Eric the half a troll Avatar
    Eric the half a troll

    “The graph above shows the correlation between health scores and economic scores. The regression line suggests that the correlation is “essentially zero.””

    Suggests…? Not really… what is the r^2? It is easy enough to calculate and will tell if if there is correlation or not.

    1. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      White noise… and no, James, that’s not actually racist unless we’re talking about BR.

  2. DJRippert Avatar

    Let’s be honest … Ralph Northam was a horrible governor. From his blackface / Coonman revelation to his infanticide babbling to his handling of COVID-19, the man was overmatched by circumstances. No music on the beach, curfews, school closings … the man loved him some big gub’mint.

    I think Steve is right about the economic decline preceding COVID-19. The economically prosperous areas in the state are getting very unaffordable. Meanwhile, the affordable areas seem to be unable to prosper economically. A New York kind of thing.

  3. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Yes, but everyone else flunked. Also, as a nation, we’re on academic suspension.

  4. Eric the half a troll Avatar
    Eric the half a troll

    So… top ten-ish in lives saved. The negative is economic-related… what is the breakeven $/life in the GOP these days…?

    1. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      Zero, apparently.

  5. Stephen Haner Avatar
    Stephen Haner

    I submit Virginia’s weak economic performance is due to factors in play before the pandemic, and continuing in its wake. In terms of retail and workplace “lockdowns,” Virginia was not all that severe compared to other states. Now on the school shutdown front, Virginia deserves to be dinged for allowing too many to stay closed for too long, usually the divisions where it did the most damage.

    1. Nancy Naive Avatar
      Nancy Naive

      Again, 1958 and the scores in the sixties remained comparable.

    2. LarrytheG Avatar

      right. The revenue numbers contradict the report.

      on schools, we had many schools stay open – in person – because Northam did delegate that.

      Have we seen numbers that demonstrate the schools that did not lock down – did better?

      And isn’t it the rural Red counties that have the drugs and alcohol issues?

  6. LarrytheG Avatar

    re: ” Virginia’s adjusted economic rank was 33rd in the nation, indicating economic performance that was weaker than the national average over the course of the the pandemic.”

    I was under the impression that Virginia benefited from much higher sales and other tax revenues than prior yrs.

    And we attribute higher drug and alcohol to the “lockdowns”? Is there any credible data to show this or is it the standard conservative belief?

    How did we do so good on sales taxes if we were “locked down”?

    I dunno.. call me skeptical but we’ve seen this movie before in BR , it’s a conservative theme song.

    Stephen Moore , the author of the Kansas debacle? :

    Finally, trying to figure out exactly what Youngkin and the GOP has recommended to “rescue” Virginia’s supposedly terrible economy.

    oh… right, tax cuts from the much increased tax revenues!

    1. Timothy Watson Avatar
      Timothy Watson

      Sales tax revenue is small solace for the people who lost their jobs and businesses and the broader GDP decline in the state, which is what the study used to measure economic impact. In Virginia, the unemployment rate increased by 2.9% and the GDP shrank by 3.0%.

      1. LarrytheG Avatar

        income tax was up also – a lot! How can we have such a tremendous surplus of revenues if our economy was bad? Didn’t we have a low unemployment rate compared to other states also?

        what’s the truth and what is the not?

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