Study: Political party major factor in virus orders

Coronavirus

A billboard on M-45 near Allendale urges people to obey the stay-at-home order. (March 26, 2020)

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — The COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders have sparked debates in Michigan and across the country.

Researchers at Western Michigan University have been looking at these orders and factors surrounding the decisions to issue them.

Political science professor Kevin Corder and public administration professor Matthew Mingus found data showing political party was the biggest factor in when or if the order was issued.

“We looked at the risk factors, and we looked at political factors,” Mingus said.

The study showed states with Democratic governors issued orders a week earlier than states with Republican governors.

Mingus says the numbers indicate the orders likely saved lives.

“We know a week mattered because when you look at the data at the end of July, if you look at those eight states that never issued a shelter-in-place order, their caseload was more than 20% higher than the other 42 states,” Mingus said.

The researchers have reviewed hundreds of these types of orders because states extended them multiple times with variations in how they were written.

“All eight of the states that never issued any sort of statewide shelter-in-place order had a Republican governor and a Republican-controlled state senate. Whereas, every state with Democratic control or divided control issued a shelter-in-place order,” Mingus said.

The researcher says the escalating fight over COVID-19 orders is increasing tensions to a surprising level.

“The announcement of the arrests related to Governor Whitmer and the attempts to kidnap her and so forth, it shows how extreme some of that political polarization goes,” Mingus said.

The entire study can be found online. A second phase of the study is currently in progress.

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