Florida and New York COVID Data Prove Lockdowns Made No Sense

Today is the first day of March, which means we now essentially have a full year of COVID data from the four largest states in the country: California, Texas, Florida and New York. Thanks to the fact that we have federalism in this country, we can look at the factual COVID data and begin to answer a big question: did COVID lockdowns make any sense at all? And also, how do we assess the overall performance of governors in this country?

Regardless of your politics, the best state leadership would have done two things during COVID: limit deaths and keep people employed. That is, the best a state could do would be to have a low COVID death rate and a low unemployment rate. (Keeping schools open generally corresponds with a low unemployment rate since a low unemployment rate means lockdowns were less stringent.)

Given that all states have different geographic and economic conditions, it can be hard to compare every state’s COVID response head-to-head. But you can, in general, compare the four biggest states in the country and their responses to COVID, which is why California, Florida, Texas, and New York offer intriguing test case scenarios to asses which governors and which states handled COVID the best.

And there is now a year’s worth of data to make that decision predicated on data as opposed to opinion. That is, rather than get lost in the daily noise of social media opinion, we can just look at the raw COVID data from the past year to determine how our four biggest states handled the pandemic.

And the results just may stun you.

For much of the past year, the media told you that New York governor Andrew Cuomo was the political hero of the COVID outbreak and that Florida governor Ron DeSantis was the political villain. This narrative began back in March of last year and has proven to be incredibly durable, carrying all the way into 2021.

Except the data tells us the exact opposite is true: no big state governor in the country has done a better job than Florida’s Ron DeSantis and no big state governor has done a worse job than New York’s Andrew Cuomo.

Yet tens of millions of people in this country believe the exact opposite.

How did this happen?

Well, dive in as we explore the data. But first, let me reiterate. This is is not an opinion. This is what objective and factual data tells us. The mainstream media has largely peddled falsehoods to their audience about how New York and Florida’s governors responded to COVID, praising New York and denigrating Florida.

Leaving aside the double sexual harassment allegations that have emerged in the past week, New York’s Andrew Cuomo received nearly universal media praise for his interviews on CNN with his brother Chris, wrote a triumphant book on how to handle COVID, Dr. Anthony Fauci told us that Cuomo managed the pandemic better than anyone, and New York’s governor even received a special Emmy award for his use of television to communicate with the general public.

An Emmy!

Unfortunately, the facts prove that Cuomo’s COVID heroism was all a lie.

All of it.

At the same time they were praising Cuomo, the media told you Florida governor Ron DeSantis was handling COVID worse than anyone in the country. This narrative started back in March of last year and still exists. When the Super Bowl was played last month in Tampa, the media covering the game were aghast at the lack of masks there and the upcoming super spreader events that would follow. (Spoiler alert: COVID cases continued to decline massively in the Tampa area in the two weeks after the Super Bowl.) As DeSantis fought to keep the Florida theme parks open, allowed hotels and short term rentals for vacation travel, and permitted bars and restaurants to remain open as well, the media gnashed its teeth and wailed that he was trying to kill everyone.

Sadly, these inaccurate media narratives about Florida and New York become repeated by the gullible, such as NFL reporter Peter King. King came on my radio show and praised Andrew Cuomo’s COVID performance while denigrating Ron DeSantis’ performance. While King got played by the media and wasn’t smart enough to realize it, he wasn’t alone. Tens of millions of people in America still believe, even to this day and even with transparent and factual data proving otherwise, that New York has done an incredible job with COVID and that Florida has done a disastrous one.

Put simply, the media sold you a false bill of goods and, sadly, many people still believe those lies. That’s even in the wake of Cuomo potentially facing criminal charges for allegedly covering up the death rate in New York nursing homes after Cuomo made the disastrous decision to send COVID-infected patients back into nursing homes.

The objective and factual data tells us a far different truth. Far from Andrew Cuomo being a stellar leader as it pertains to the COVID pandemic, Cuomo handled COVID worse than any elected official in a major state in this country. Indeed, if it were a country, New York would have been the worst performing country in the world at handling COVID. (New Jersey would have been a tad bit worse, but most of New Jersey’s issues came from New York City.)

In fact, even yesterday, nearly a year after the initial outbreak, the state of New York still had the most COVID cases in the United States. You read that right. One full year after the outbreak in New York began, the state of New York is still the worst in the entire United States when it comes to dealing with COVID.

And that just continues the trend that has been in existence for the past year.

Here’s the death data in the four largest states in the country over the past year. Deaths per million of population:

New York 2,459
Texas 1,520
Florida 1,437
California 1,321

So New York has been substantially worse than the other three largest states in the country.

But New York hasn’t just done a bad job relative to other states in the country. Here’s how the state of New York’s COVID death rate per capita would rank in the entire world:

New York 2,459
Czechia 1,909
Belgium 1,899
Slovenia 1,899
England 1,805
Italy 1,622
Portugal 1,607
United States 1,582

Let me repeat this: New York, if it were a country, would have the worst COVID death rate in the entire world. The objective data is clear. Far from being a COVID hero, Governor Andrew Cuomo is probably the worst performing elected official in the entire world when it comes to dealing with COVID.

But that’s not all, not only has New York been the worst performing location for COVID in the entire world, they’ve also managed to destroy their economy in the process by adopting draconian lockdowns which have been almost totally ineffective at saving lives.

Look at the most recent unemployment rates in each of the four biggest states in the country:

Florida 6.1%
Texas 7.2%
New York 8.2%
California 9.0%

So not only has New York posted the worst death rate from COVID in the world, they have also tanked their economy in the process, posting the fourth highest unemployment rate in the United States. (They are 46th overall. California is even worse as the 49th worst unemployment rate in the nation.)

The data from the four largest states make it clear: lockdowns haven’t worked in this country.

At all.

They haven’t limited deaths, and they’ve tanked the economy.

This isn’t an opinion. This is what the factual data tells us.

So Andrew Cuomo has the worst COVID death rate in the world, and he’s tanked New York’s economy too. He has failed to protect his residents and left them unable to care for themselves or their families because they have also lost their jobs at nearly the highest rate in the country.

On the flip side, Ron DeSantis, who has far more elderly people living in his state than any of the three other big state governors, has protected his state residents and kept them gainfully employed better than any big state governor in the country.

So how is it that Cuomo has received nearly universal media praise for much of the past year and DeSantis has received almost universal condemnation?

Sadly, the only explanation is politics.

Because Andrew Cuomo is a Democrat, the big lie was sold that Cuomo had performed admirably. The media set up Cuomo as the contrast with Donald Trump, whom they wanted to ensure wasn’t reelected. So Cuomo became the Democrats COVID savior, the anti-Trump. Since DeSantis was a Republican allied with Trump, he was a convenient scapegoat to tie to Trump in the Sunshine State, an important battleground in 2020.

As a result, the media sold the false lie that DeSantis had performed awfully and Cuomo had performed incredibly. This started in early March, when the media lost its mind over Florida beaches being open. “HOW DARE DESANTIS ALLOW HIS STATE RESIDENTS TO BE OUTSIDE IN A PANDEMIC!,” much of the media wailed. (Being outside has been shown, by the way, to be the best place people can spend time during the pandemic.)

Far from being a COVID pariah, if every governor had made the exact same decisions as Ron DeSantis, there would be far more people alive in this country and there would be far more people employed too. Rather than hold him up as an example of everything that’s wrong with COVID, DeSantis should be our national hero, the best performing big state governor in the country.

Instead, the mainstream media sold much of the country a big COVID lie: Andrew Cuomo was a hero and Ron DeSantis was a villain.

And, as I said above, the sad thing is tens of millions of people still believe this lie.

But a year later, something very interesting is finally happening — many Americans are waking up to the truth.

Andrew Cuomo is close to losing his job — and may face criminal charges for COVID lies. California’s Governor Gavin Newsome is facing recall for his disastrous shutdowns which have destroyed the California economy, and Ron DeSantis is the most favored candidate in the entire country to be the Republican presidential nominee in 2024 if Trump doesn’t run.

It’s taken a long time, but the truth is finally starting to win over the lies.

And the truth is the exact opposite of what the media has told you: New York governor Andrew Cuomo is the worst performing elected official in the world and Florida’s Ron DeSantis is one of the best.

That’s not an opinion. It’s just the facts.

Written by Clay Travis

OutKick founder, host and author. He's presently banned from appearing on both CNN and ESPN because he’s too honest for both.


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  1. Good column Clay. Question for anyone from Florida on this site – are you required to wear masks at the gym? I’m in NY and going out of my mind with the mask-wearing mandate, especially when I’m working out.

  2. ‘Andrew Cuomo is close to losing his job — and may face criminal charges for COVID lies. California’s Governor Gavin Newsome is facing recall for his disastrous shutdowns which have destroyed the California economy’

    Oh how I wish this could be true, Clay. But we’ve seen how higher up incompentent leaders hardly ever get justice for their crimes.

    • Cuomo helped take out Trump, now the curtain has been pulled back to reveal the repugnant little man. Since NY is such a BLUE state there is no shot that the Dems will lose Cuomo’s spot to GOP but his outright admitting DOJ obstruction chummed the water for the other Dems. The first to go for the throat was the State AG, a black woman named Letitia James, of course the buffoon DeBlasio piled on. Now the sex scandals are breaking and guess who’s at the fore front calling for investigations, AG James. You think the national party wouldn’t love to make this ugliness go away with a HISTORIC first, a black woman governor of New York. Cuomo is toast.

        • Back when I read Peter King [and that was a looooong time ago], he wrote a column about Chiefs’ offensive coordinator Al Saunders getting picked up by washington [this was during the Dick Vermeil era in KC so around ’02-’03. Anyhow, King lavished praise on Saunders saying the Chiefs never called the same offensive play twice in a MONTH. NFL Supercuts were a pretty new thing on the NFL satellite package in those days so I watched every Chiefs snap at least twice and it sure seemed to my layman’s eye that the Chiefs ran the same running plays a lot.

          and why not, they had three Hall of Famers blocking [Willie Roaf, Wil Shields and Tony Gonzalez] plus some other Pro Bowlers for Larry Johnson. After reading that ‘no two plays alike in a month’ tidbit from King I read an interview with Larry Johnson who praised the Chiefs offensive line saying they just ran the same 4-5 running plays all the time and what did it matter because nobody could stop them even if they knew they were coming.

          I emailed that excerpt to King and asked ‘what gives?’ No response. Did it six weeks in a row. Nothing. Finally just concluded he will puff up anybody who gives him exclusive access, facts be damned. He’s awful.

  3. SadBengals fan, I can answer your question as I live in Tampa. We still have to pretend for the coronabros out there and have it somewhat on when you walk in. You can remove it as soon as you pass through the door (the invisible barrier at the door is where the virus agreed not to infect anyone). As Clay would say it is cosmetic theater to have to do that in the first place. Unless you’re in a liberal portion of the city or state there are very few people in the gym lifting, running or doing yoga with a face diaper on.

      • Yeah that sounds rough. When the gyms first opened back up here in early May some/most around here didn’t even have the mask in and out rule. That started later in the summer and still to this day I rarely do it unless they ask me to while scanning in and that seems to be the norm with most people.

        The dumbest thing they do here is only have one in every 5 lockers open for use. So we all have to use the same lockers because “science”. Also some gyms turn off every other sink so again everyone is waiting to use the same one or two

    • Sam, you failed to mention that not only does the virus honor invisible barriers, but it also knows how to count people and it can also tell time when bars stay open too late. It also magically eliminates lockdowns when progressive politicians feel the heat of a recall on the horizon.

  4. I live in Florida and my gym requires that you wear a mask when you check in or are walking around in common areas. However, if you are working out, lifting or using cardio equipment, you don’t need to be wearing the mask.

  5. I also don’t think what is being reported out of New York State is even close to accurate, I would wait and re-update this article when the actual data from New York comes out.
    Great job Clay!

  6. Clay please soak in the following quote,
    “It’s amazing how much panic one honest man can spread among a multitude of hypocrites” Thomas Sowell

    If you haven’t taken some time to go back and watch Thomas Sowell with Milton Friedman, I highly recommend it as it will enlighten you even more to continue to provide accurate truths that many don’t want to hear.

  7. Solid article Clay – hopefully it reaches the minds of more than just the already objective readers of Outkick. A couple of things that are most unbelievable/eye-opening: Cuomo took the time to *write a book* (incredibly difficult undertaking) while in the midst of a pandemic and was somehow praised for this. And the fact that damning information has come to light regarding the number of nursing home deaths in NY naturally leads to the potential that the Cuomo admin was also hiding plenty of other damning Covid-related evidence on his watch…

  8. Thanks for sharing this data. The headline says that the data conclusively says lockdowns don’t work. However it doesn’t address why California had a lower death per capita of the four states listed. California has been in lockdown the entire pandemic. Any thoughts there?

    • I would say the difference is the death rates for both states amount to 0.001% (give or take literal ten-thousandths of percentage points) while the unemployment rate in Cali is 50% higher than in Florida. Trading off 50% higher unemployment, plus all of the misery, depression, substance abuse, suicide, loss of education, etc that comes with the lockdowns for essentially the same death rate is a no brainer (and if you factor in all of the extraneous deaths that the lockdowns have caused in people that didn’t actually have Covid, the death rates are probably totally the same or lean in Florida’s favor)

      • Thanks for sharing that. I thought the argument you were making was about deaths per capita, vs the death rate? I wouldn’t expect a lockdown to change the death rate, assuming death rate means the rate at which people who are infected with the virus die.

  9. Great article Clay, I am in Orlando FL and very proud of my state and governor. I work in surgery and have kept right on going to work and living my life here. I wanted to see if you saw Geraldo Rivera on Hannity tonight. He actually stuck up for Cuomo on the harassment saying we live in world of fake morality and those women just need to let it go.WTF dude. Plus he said the nursing home scandal is much worse than any of these claims of sexual harassment. Just wow.

  10. Clay,thanks for laying out the numbers and the obvious truth that DeSantis has handled his response perfectly. People who deny this have a political agenda. I escaped from NY a little over two years ago and I thank God every day that I am in Florida with the best governor in the country{Kristi Noem is a close second}.I feel bad for my friends back in NY and would recommend that they pull the cord and get out. One proviso is that if NYers come to Florida they better leave the left behind.

  11. The evil fake news media helped rig a presidential election. cover for the severely dementia ridden braindead pervert Joe and has provided cover to the mass murdering pervert Cuomo.
    For some unknown reason, they are sacrificing one of their top criminals.

  12. 🤔 So Bin Laden kills 3000 New Yorkers, we go to war and kill him. Cuomo kills FIVE TIMES that many and he is going to run for re-election. Makes me wonder, had Bin Laden been a Democrat, might he be governor?

  13. I’m here in Orlando. We just spent a sun drenched weekend at the JW Marriott for a staycation. Very few masks other than at the front desk. Tons of people by the pool and in the lazy river enjoying themselves. No piles of dead bodies. Its insane that other states tolerate this nonsense.

  14. Another great column and solid take, but you leave out, as many others do, in concentrating on the deaths and economies, what in my mind is the most important thing, loss of our freedoms. And how those Governors and other politicians from Democrat controlled areas almost reveled in that power. Economy can and will recover. How do you get your Freedoms back?

  15. And just think, there was idle speculation late last spring or early last summer that a draft Cuomo measure in the corrupt Democrat Party would have installed him as the party’s presidential candidate. As if it couldn’t get and worse than Biden/Harris.

    The Democrat Party is truly reprehensible and left-wing media is the enemy of the people.

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