When the final history of the COVID-19 pandemic is written it will likely conclude that most of the non-pharmaceutical public health measures taken to combat the disease — that is, mask mandates and lockdowns — were largely ineffective.
The unimportance of public mitigation measures can be illustrated by comparing outcomes in states that imposed strict mitigation measures versus states, such as Florida, that adopted a minimalist approach.
Florida, New York, California and Illinois are all large states with multiple urban areas. But while Florida has been the poster child for a hands-off approach by government, the latter three states imposed multiple intrusive measures over long periods of time.
Florida, for example, recommended but did not require face coverings. While several large counties imposed their own mandates, Governor Ron DeSantis issued an executive order barring governments and school districts from imposing them last May.
New York’s Gov. Kathy Hochul lifted the state’s general mask order on Feb. 10, but masks are still required in schools, health care facilities and on public transit. California lifted its universal indoor mask mandate on Feb. 16, but the requirement remains in effect for the unvaccinated.