|The Badlands of South Dakota.|
An article today in The Spectator (US and UK) decries the lack of regulations in South Dakota to deal with the coronavirus, calling it a "failed experiment." The author compares South Dakota's response, or lack of it, to Sweden--and then calls Sweden a failure, too. From this, he concludes that lack of coronavirus regulation allows rampant spreading of the disease, and implies that strict regulation controls it. Does it really--and are those devil-may-care Swedes and South Dakotans about to drop like flies? Let's look at their numbers and compare them not to perfection, but to some places that have had strict regulations to get an idea how well the regulations might be working. The article doesn't specify which measures should be mandated, so let's assume lockdowns.
I'll avoid using out-of-the-way places and epicenters, since they would have low or high numbers no matter what they did. And since there's been so much variation in how deaths are reported and what constitutes a case, and since lockdowns themselves have effects, I'm going to look at excess deaths: deaths at a number above what would normally be expected for the time of year. Here's South Dakota's excess deaths from the CDC. (Click graphics to enlarge.)
- If Sweden is an indication, a peak in excess deaths can sharply decline without a lockdown.
- Strict lockdowns haven't prevented second waves of excess deaths in France and Belgium.
- Michigan and Pennsylvania, which have have already had a sharp spike in excess deaths, haven't seen a second one (so far) with lockdowns off the table.