What are the political situations that have resulted in decreasing case numbers of covid-19? I plotted daily case rate curves by the party of the governor (2 categories) and the vote for Trump (2 levels). My hypothesis was that governors that are Democratic will do more, but those that are in Republican leaning states will have a harder time at getting compliance. Conversely, Republican governors will Democratic-leaning constituencies should see, in general more compliance with social distancing and people being cautious. Because at the end of the day social distancing and mask wearing is all about caring about other people, which is, frankly, more of a Democratic than a Trumpist position. I’m concerned here with Trumpism (aka modern Republicans), not old-fashioned Republicanism where they thought we ought to pay for the spending with taxes as opposed to deficit spending.
When we look at the data, Democratic governors with more liberal constituencies had longer lockdowns over more states and have bent the curve downward. Republican governors with Trumpist constituencies had shorter and fewer lockdowns and see continued increases in cases, with no sustained decreases. Democratic governors with more Trumpist constituencies (KS, KY, LA, NC, MT) had more lockdowns and bent the curve, but rebounds and increasing rates after lockdown. Republican governors with less Trumpist constituencies (MA, MD, NH, UT) had longer lockdowns and sustained declines afterwards. (All of these as averages and not necessarily characterizing every state). None of this deals with population density and a more thorough analysis would incorporate that as well.
Death rates as a proportion of population and as a proportion of cases are going down. I plotted the deaths as a percent of cases today. The question about why it is going down probably has a lot to do with the demographics of people getting the disease. I checked on the statistics and the median age of person testing positive is going down by the week, which explains lower death rates. That could result from: a) more testing of everyone and a more representative sample than before, b) older people being more cautious and getting it less, which should lead to fewer hospitalizations, c) younger people being less cautious, which would be the bad reason. If that is the situation, younger people are likely to bring it back to family member, and set themselves up for long-term adverse consequences. Data I’ve seen suggest a combination of older people being more cautious and younger people being less cautious.
As for current trends, I have plotted the daily new cases and deaths for each state, which also shows some of the divergence between case rates and death rates.
Leadership matters, as does population density, and the characteristics of the population. Even though the states with the highest population densities had the greatest number of cases, those states were largely Democratic, with Democratic governors, and responded appropriately. California is still an open question, as a large state with a diverse population that has not yet seen new daily cases reach a peak and go down. These results, however, are only the first quarter of the proverbial game. Absent and effective and accessible vaccine (unlikely for some time to come), the US can expect another year at least of the virus burning through our population, given the absence of political leadership to turn it around on the national level. That prospect is impossible at a minimum until next January under current conditions of political accountability.