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Yet on an Age-Adjusted Basis….

Here’s a letter to the Wall Street Journal:


Rebecca Howard criticizes Dave Seminara’s praise of Florida governor Ron DeSantis for rejecting harsh Covid restrictions (Letters, Nov. 4). In Ms. Howard’s opinion, evidence for why the “trade-off” of more freedom for lives was not “worth it” is the fact that “Florida has the seventh-most deaths per 100,000 residents, whereas California ranks 35th among the states.”


First, the acceptability of unprecedented restrictions on freedom is not established by such a fact. By Ms. Howard’s logic, if government could substantially reduce annual deaths in the U.S., say by 1 million, by forcing each of us to live forever alone in an antiseptic bubble, such a mandate is appropriate. But surely even Ms. Howard would reject her logic long before it leads her to embrace this monstrous conclusion.

Second, because the influences on Covid death rates are numerous and complex, Ms. Howard’s simple fact is misleading, as is made clear by merely adjusting for age. On an age-adjusted basis, Florida’s Covid death toll is 22nd in the country – a death toll far lower than that of New Jersey, New York, DC, and other jurisdictions whose citizens suffered harsher lockdowns. On this same age-adjusted basis, California’s Covid death toll ranks 28th – that is, along with Florida, in the middle of the pack.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030

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