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Michigan is in the middle of a huge spike in COVID-19 cases. This despite the notoriously restrictive public health edicts issued there, such as travel restrictions, that go beyond what most other states employ. Texas famously has kept the restrictions to a minimum and has already stopped some of them, such as lockdowns and a state mandatory mask edict, much to the distress of the President. Yet Texas has seen and continues to see a decline of new cases and deaths. It’s the same in Florida.
So, what’s going on?
I think a clue to the reason for this paradox is found on the Facebook page of Michigan Gov. Whitmer’s top aide, Tricia Foster. She just went to celebrate spring break in Florida, and pictures of her and her friends partying on the beach, sans masks, and physically very close, are to be found there. So while Michigan has had strict COVID rules since forever, even Whitmer’s aide is ignoring them because Michiganders are tired of it and don’t believe in the restrictions, while in Texas, at least in my experience, most people are still wearing masks, socially distancing, and so on when it’s appropriate because they choose to.
Regulations are, to a significant extent, irrelevant. Public health measures were adopted by people in Texas before the regulations went into effect and have continued after they’ve been rescinded.
Maybe letting the people decide for themselves gets better results.
The most important thing is good information. If the people know what to do and it’s up to them they will for the most part do the right thing. If the people don’t trust what they are being told because they have been repeatedly lied to by government officials who don’t take it seriously themselves then the people won’t act on that knowledge.
I suspect Michigan is like some other states. You can still get a haircut, eat out, travel, or whatever you like if you choose to despite restrictions, and a lot of people do.
Nancy Reagan pushed her “Just Say No” campaign against drug abuse in kids, but it was an educational campaign, not a policy agenda. Yet her “Just Say No” campaign is credited with a big increase in public awareness and concern about drug abuse. Michelle Obama militated for better nutrition in school cafeterias and actually got regulations in place enforcing that sentiment. The results were that kids threw food in the trash. It seems there is a basic difference here in methods and results.Published in