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.