States With Republican Governors Were 2.7 Days Slower On Average To Enact Social Distancing, Research Shows

A picture of a beach in Florida.
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States led by a Republican governor were an average of 2.7 days slower to enact social distancing measures amid the spread of the coronavirus compared to their more liberal peers, a new study shows.

As Mother Jones reported, the study from the University of Washington looked at when states started to enact measures encouraging people to remain in their homes and away from crowds as much as possible. Some states have taken more stringent measures, closing down all nonessential businesses and enacting rules against group gatherings in public.

Yet, there is still a gap between what measures have been enacted and how fast they were put in place depending on the state, and the study shows that the political affiliation of the governor may have something to do with it.

“The biggest influence in how states acted was not the number of confirmed cases, but rather politics, according to new research by a group of professors at the University of Washington,” the report noted. “They focused on five measures taken directly from state government websites: restrictions on gatherings, school closures, restaurant restrictions, nonessential business closures, and stay-at-home orders.”

The researchers pointed out that some may have been taking cues from President Donald Trump, who initially downplayed the severity of the outbreak and predicted that the first cases would be clearing up within a matter of days. That prediction was not correct, as COVID-19 has instead spread across the country as the United States now holds the highest confirmed number of cases in the world.

Trump last week said he wanted to see the United States open again by Easter, a date that medical experts said would be too soon to successfully slow the virus from spreading, but he has since backed off this idea and said the shutdown measures would remain in place through April.

Some Republicans have still come under fire for their slow action. In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis has been criticized for not ordering the state’s beaches to close, which allowed people to congregate, especially during the weeks when colleges were on spring break. As The Inquisitr reported, a number of spring breakers have since tested positive, and an analysis showed that those crowding the state’s beaches have the potential to spread the virus across the entire country.

The University of Washington researchers noted that with the speed in which the virus spreads, even a few days can make a significant difference in trying to keep it under control.

“Does a 2.7 day delay matter?” the report posed. “Given the quick doubling time of COVID-19, these delays have the potential to cause a dramatic increase in the peak volume of cases.”