Free States Faring Far Better Than Lockdown States In One Huge Way, New Data Show

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When COVID-19 first came to our shores, it presented policymakers and elected officials with a crisis like nothing in living memory. In the year since, states have taken markedly different approaches to pandemic policy. Some, like New York, embraced sweeping government lockdowns and top-down mandates while others like Florida and South Dakota took a more humble, hands-off government approach, trusting individuals to make the best decisions for themselves.

The results are in—and they overwhelmingly vindicate the free states over the authoritarian experiments. First, we saw that states with the harshest restrictions didn’t necessarily achieve the best COVID-19 death outcomes. Florida has fared far better than New York and New Jersey, for example, and multiple studies have found no correlation between lockdown stringency and death rates

Yet lockdowns have come at an enormous economic and human cost. We’ve seen mental health problems and child suicide spikes, an increase in domestic violence, an uptick in drug overdoses, and much, much more. And, of course, the economic toll of shutting down businesses and criminalizing “non-essential” livelihoods has been devastating.

The national unemployment rate was a poor if not disastrous 6.2 percent in February. Yet the just-released state-level unemployment rates for last month show that the devastation hasn’t been equal across the board. New Labor Department data reveal that many free states have returned to nearly their pre-pandemic unemployment rates—while lockdown states dominate the wrong end of the list. 

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Susan Miller • 2 weeks ago • Member's comment

Lots of food for thought here. I would have thought lockdown would have had a more direct impact on keeping Covid at bay. But nothing seems to have worked, and as Joseph Cox has often eloquently shown in his articles, there is a severe cost to having lockdowns. Both economically and emotionally/mentally. No wonder "free" states are fairing better.

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Alexis Renault • 2 weeks ago • Member's comment

I'm not sure where the author gets these facts from. The data from the CDC clearly show that masks, social distancing and lockdowns save lives. It is also common sense - you can't spread the disease if you are stuck at home. What nonsense.

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Ayelet Wolf • 2 weeks ago • Member's comment

I saw a study in Israel that showed no increase in suicides at all over the past year. Which directly contradicts your statement. Perhaps it is different in the US, but it's odd that every single link that you use to backup your claims are from your own site.

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Andrew Armstrong • 2 weeks ago • Member's comment

It's the same for the US - no increase in suicide rates due to Covid. The author clearly has an agenda.

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Texan Hunter • 2 weeks ago • Member's comment

Andrew Armstrong, I find that hard to believe. Can you back that up with a link?

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Andrew Armstrong • 2 weeks ago • Member's comment
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Jack S. Chen • 2 weeks ago • Member's comment

I remember reading that suicide rates actually decreased in Japan by 15% because of Covid. Probably because they normally have such a high suicide rate from being so overworked. Not sure about the US.

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Rick A. Schneider • 2 weeks ago • Member's comment

The author is a moron. It's ridiculous to compare the unemployment rates of states like Utah and Nebraska with New York. Of course New York will have far more unemployed people. That has nothing to do with lockdowns.

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Frank J. Williams • 2 weeks ago • Member's comment

The author clearly does not understand the difference between "correlation" and "causation." His high school statistics teacher is likely very disappointed in him.

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Samantha Carter • 2 weeks ago • Member's comment

I seriously doubt the validity of this article. All you have to do is look through the author's Twitter feed ( to see just how biased he is on this subject.

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