Minnesota Opinion: Bursting bubbles about COVID-19 pandemic
Summary: Here in Minnesota, it may seem like we are living under some pretty strict state regulations. But a new report from WalletHub, a personal-finance website, bursts that bubble.
It’s easy to get caught in one’s own little bubble when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first bubble is a person’s own county — how many cases are being reported there, if it’s increasing, how many deaths it has caused, local events and businesses that are impacted.
The next bubbles are the state, the nation, and finally, the world.
Here in Minnesota, it may seem like we are living under some pretty strict state regulations. But a new report from WalletHub, a personal-finance website, bursts that bubble.
When it comes to the states with the most restrictions, Minnesota ranks nearly right in the middle, at 26th.
To identify which states have the fewest coronavirus restrictions, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 11 key metrics, such as whether child-care programs and restaurants have reopened to the presence or absence of a “shelter-in-place” order. To be clear, the Echo Press fully supports local businesses and restaurants' urgent requests to reopen, with safeguards in place.
According to the study, the five states with the fewest restrictions are South Dakota at number one, followed by Wisconsin, Idaho, Missouri and Utah. The most restricted states are Illinois, which ranked number one, followed by Rhode Island, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts and Vermont.
The study also included some advice from WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez on some key issues regarding the “reopening” of states. The insights (released last week) provide some food for thought as we continue to try to get to the other side of this pandemic:
What should states be most mindful of when reopening?
“States should be most mindful of limiting close contact between residents even as businesses reopen, which means that state legislatures should transition from guidelines on social distancing to laws, such as requiring mask wearing in public places and limiting the number of people per square footage. States can show extra care to vulnerable populations by making sure they are accommodated with free deliveries of essential goods and exclusive hours at all businesses,” said Gonzalez. “Most importantly, state governments need to closely monitor the number of coronavirus cases, prepare for a second wave, and adjust further reopening plans if needed to avoid too much of a strain on hospitals.”
What can citizens do to maintain their safety in the states that have the fewest restrictions?
“In order to stay safe in the states that have the fewest coronavirus restrictions, people can wear masks and gloves in public even if it’s not required, and they can minimize the amount of time they spend around other people,” Gonzalez said. “Employees whose jobs allow for working from home could request that their employers let them do so for another few months, and those who can’t work remotely should make sure their workplaces are cleaned regularly and have measures in place to reduce crowding.”
Why does South Dakota rank as the state with the fewest coronavirus restrictions?
“Two major reasons why South Dakota ranks as the state with the fewest coronavirus restrictions are that it is one of only seven states that never had a mandate for all schools to close during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is the only state that never required a statewide closure of bars and restaurants,” said Gonzalez. “South Dakota has already lifted some of the restrictions it did implement, such as its ban on large gatherings, and it only recommends wearing a mask in public rather than requiring it like most states do.”
New York has the most coronavirus cases in the U.S. How has that impacted their restrictions?
“New York ranks as No. 9 for the most coronavirus restrictions in the U.S.,” said Gonzalez. “One of New York’s most prominent COVID-19 restrictions is its continued limited statewide quarantine even as many states start to reopen, and it is one of only eight states in which all gatherings remain prohibited. New York is also among 19 states that participate in multistate agreements for making decisions on the reopening process.”
This editorial is the opinion of the editorial board of the Alexandria Echo Press.