Florida and New York: Examining A Media Coronavirus Narrative Failure

Florida and New York are two of the four most populous states in the country. Since March both states have received among the most media attention in the country for their responses to the coronavirus. The mainstream media has almost universally praised New York governor Andrew Cuomo for his leadership while almost universally denigrating the leadership of Florida governor Ron DeSantis.

New York has been held up as a model for all states to follow — lauded as a success story by almost all mainstream media — while Florida has been ridiculed as representing all that is wrong with the nation’s response to the coronavirus.

Yet when you look at the data, it’s quite clear the media has gotten this completely wrong.

Florida is much closer to the model of a how a state should respond to the coronavirus and New York is a model of how to do everything wrong. Don’t believe me? Let’s go look at the data.

Today Florida reported 2,957 new coronavirus cases, a total positivity rating among cases at 5.52% — up slightly from yesterday’s 4.87% rate, which was a two month low — and just 51 new deaths, the lowest number of new deaths in the state in over a month.

Based on all this data it appears Florida’s “outbreak” is effectively over.

This should be the number one story in the entire news cycle since the fear porn spread by the news media about Florida has effectively been incessant since March. Florida — and their governor, Ron DeSantis — has been the favorite coronavirus boogeyman of the entire country. Meanwhile New York governor Andrew Cuomo has been the media’s golden child, the leader who could do no wrong.

Which is why looking at the data, rather than allowing the media to tell you what to think, is important.

Because if you look at the data, spoiler alert, what you see is that Florida governor Ron DeSantis has done a far better job than New York governor Andrew Cuomo at handling the coronavirus.

Consider this most basic stat: deaths per a million residents:

Florida 481
New York 1684

Florida has roughly 25% of the overall deaths of New York despite having an older population than New York. Meaning not just has Florida done nearly 4x as good of a job protecting its residents lives as New York, it’s done that despite having a more vulnerable age population.

If New York had the same rate of death of Florida the state of New York would have around 9,000 deaths instead of 32,000 deaths, meaning 23,000 people who are currently dead in New York would still be alive.

Far from doing a good job, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York may well have done the worst job in the entire world. Indeed, the only competitor with him is New Jersey governor Phil Murphy.

Look at the death rates per million in New York and New Jersey compared to the worst death rates in the entire rest of the world:

1. New Jersey 1807
2. New York 1694
3. Belgium 861
4. Peru 831
5. Spain 617
6. England 610
7. Italy 586
8. Sweden 575
9. Chile 564
10. United States 544

So New York and New Jersey were three times as bad as the average in the United States. (Indeed, they are the primary reasons why the United States death rate is so high.)

This is staggering information. New York and New Jersey didn’t just do awful at protecting their residents, they were twice as bad as any other country in the entire world.

And they were positively awful compared to the other states in the country.

Here are the four largest largest states in the United States ranked by death per million residents:

1. New York 1694
2. Florida 481
3. Texas 401
4. California 307

Put plainly, New York is an unmitigated disaster compared to the rest of the world and the rest of the United States.

What’s more, this doesn’t even tell the entire story.

Look at the current unemployment rates in the four largest states as well:

Texas is 8%
Florida is 11.1%
California is 13.3%
New York is 15.9%

So New York had the most deaths from the coronavirus in the nation and has the second worst unemployment rate in the entire nation, by far the worst of our four biggest states. (Massachusetts has the worst unemployment rate in the nation at 16.1%).

You can argue the two primary goals of every governor should be to keep his citizens alive and put his adult citizens to work. If that’s the standard than Andrew Cuomo is the worst governor of any of our lives. He’s killed his citizens at the highest rates in the world while allowing their unemployment rate to be nearly the highest in the entire country.

And for this Andrew Cuomo is a media star and his performance as a leader is widely praised?

It’s mind boggling dishonesty.

Based on his record of protecting life and keeping his state residents employed Andrew Cuomo has been the worst governor of our lives. Yet he’s writing a book, due out in October, lauding his own handling of the coronavirus. As if that weren’t enough Cuomo, right now, has one of the highest approval rates of any governor in the country and he’s the odds on favorite to be the Democratic nominee for president in 2024.

If you doubt the power of the mainstream media to spread fundamental untruths, there is no better example in the 21st century than the lionization of New York governor Andrew Cuomo and his leadership during the coronavirus. Cuomo’s New York, far from being an example for the rest of the country, produced the single worst performance in the entire world when you combine deaths and unemployment rates.

Instead of releasing what is likely to be a best-selling book and embarking on a round of media interviews where he will be nearly universally praised, Congress should be opening an inquiry into the death rate in New York state and investigating Cuomo’s decision to send thousands of sick patients back into nursing homes. Based on the data that is readily available for all to see, Cuomo should be investigated for manslaughter, not praised as a hero.

Florida and New York tell a story for sure, but it’s the exact opposite one the mainstream media is peddling you. If data mattered, Ron DeSantis would be one of our nation’s heroes and Andrew Cuomo would be a national pariah. Instead, it’s the exact opposite.

Facts matter, we should use them.

If you enjoyed this article you’ll love my two most recent podcasts on the coronavirus with Avik Roy and Alex Berenson. I’d encourage you to go listen to both by clicking this link.

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. Please get Lavar Arrington on the show this week.

    Today he sounded like a light bulb above his head was turned on double bright.

    He has been applying logic to the chaos all summer, but now he is hitting on the facts and how health confidentiality seems to have been universally violated in the name of something.

    He sounded so aggravated and yet composed. Love to hear Clay and Lavar discuss this.

  2. Spot on Clay! I’ve been preaching the truth about this to all of my friends and family, some argue about it and some listen and start to see what’s really going on. I’m a data guy, I get it beyond a shadow of a doubt.

  3. Clay

    Your data analysis is completely substandard . . . as I explained in a previous post to which you did not reply but which is pasted again here below. If anything, the trend for Florida today has worsened since the last post. And fortunately, we are not living in Samurai Japan because if we were, the governor of FL and several other states would have no choice but to commit ritual suicide.

    I joined recently because I’man admirer of Jason. I’ve approached you content with open minded curiosity. But the more I see you ride your covid stupidity, I’m becoming increasingly convinced that you’re nothing more than Jemele Hill but from the other fanatic extreme.

    Below is my prior comment, but it looks like I may have to edit to remove the expressions of respect for your work.

    * * *

    I respect a lot of what you say, even though I don’t always agree. But I do feel compelled to propose that your coronavirus take, mainly your NY thing and persistent use of Andrew Cuomo as a whipping boy, is off base and reflects weak analysis of the data.

    I became a VIP because I want to be a member of any club that would bring in Jason Whitlock and because, although I’m not “conservative,” I’m absolutely not “woke.” I like to think of myself as a doctrinaire centrist. It’s not, as some say, because I want both sides to love me; actually, I’m aware that nowadays, more often than not, both sides hate me. I’m just a firm believer in the universal principle espoused by the likes of Aristotle and Lao Tzu that extremes never hold and always self destruct, consistent with what history has shown us time after time.

    For the record, I live in NYC, Manhattan, a few blocks away from where the Navy hospital ship was docked and spend a lot of time in Jackson Heights, which, thanks to Elmhurst Hospital, became world famous as the boiling point of the hottest of covid hot spots. So my view of the data is supplemented by a lot of first-hand on-the-ground observation. And by the way, such observation is not cheating . . . any competent analytics person would point out the importance of “domain knowledge” the absence of which makes it easy for those who lack it to opine and sound foolish. (I deal with this in my day job every day, as “quants” put out incredibly stupid research because, as I like to quip, although they know noting about evaluating a business of comprehending financial statements).

    Coronavirus didn’t hit the world with full force at day one. It came on gradually and initially bore many characteristics to the flu, albeit a harsh strain. But there’s a reason why infectious disease specialists cal it the “novel cornavirus” (it’s actually the 19th version). As we gradually learned, we’re dealing with something completely new. So places like New York that got hit early did not have any way of knowing what, exactly, we were dealing with. Even the CDC at first urged people to avoid wearing masks, and stayed with that position for quite while in order, so they said, to preserve availability for medical personnel. Add to the lack of knowledge the nature of NY City, which is unique in the UD not just for its population density but also in the way people get around. Like many many many New Yorkers, I don’t own a car. Many of us get around on public transit. So everybody kept crowding into subways, commuter railroads and busses back when the the virus was little known and spreading quietly.

    Data, including the death rates you posted, is meaningless without context and in the field of analytics, it’s important to benchmark — to try to compare what the data is to what it is “expected” to be given relevant circumstances. I’ll leave it to medical science to compute (as best they can) what “expected death rates” were, but even basic common sense has to tell us that expected death rates in NYC, a place with extreme density and extreme ordinary social closeness and a place through which countless travelers routinely pass, has to be far far higher than in the southern states whose covid handling you praise. Actually, medical experts did compute expected death rates and that’s why we got the Navy Hospital ship, why the Javits Center was converted for hospital use, and why Cuomo was so vociferous in trying to bring in more ventilators. And that’s why nursing home patients had to remain there — forgetting projections, hospital ERs were already instructing paramedics not to revive coronary patients in ambulances because ERs couldn’t handle them (this, the media did not know; I heard this directly from hospital workers).

    But once we started to figure out what, exactly, were were dealing with, Cuomo took the lead in vigorous response. He quickly impose a tight lockdown and kept tightening as needed, and reopened very slowly based entirely on data benchmarks, not social media pressure or political shouting. And he’s been quick to respond to slackening in social pressure by postponing steps in cases where there’s too much public non-compliance. The result was a quick AND SO FAR SUSTAINABLE plunge in coronavirus to the point where deaths-per100000 in NY now are far below those of the Southern stats you hold up as models of excellence. That NY’s per-day per-100000 death rate (0.12) should, given its density, EVER fall below those of any southern state (TX 0.60; AZ 1.34, FL 0.70, etc. https://covid19.healthdata.org/united-states-of-america/new-york – hover over a state for the latest) is a disgrace to the latter, and those governors are the one’;s who, had they been in Samurai Japan, would be compelled to commit ritual suicide. That the Navy ship and the Javits Center turned out to have bene unnecessary is not an inducement of Cuomo; it’s exactly the opposite, the result of his having driven performance that was far superior to expected results.

    You can follow NYC’s data easily here: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/doh/covid/covid-19-data.page

    Clay, I respect what you do, but you may want to consider taking a page from another person I respect, Colin Cowherd, who does his weekly “Where Colin Was Right, Where Colin Was Wrong” segment. I think this is one for “Where Clay Was Wrong.”

    • Wow. What a jumble of incoherent nonsense and self agrandizement. This seems to be a reoccurring trait with those that agree with government authoritarianism.

      The javits center sat mostly empty. The Red Cross ship was empty. Nothing Cuomo did stopped the virus. In fact, his decision to house the sick with the elderly probably killed more people most at risk. Government meddling has killed more people. The experts still don’t know everything about the virus. Cuomo was essentially guessing his way through this and chose to destroy his state. The virus burned out like it has done everywhere in the world – its the same pattern of any new virus.

      The entire point of critiquing New York is because they took drastic authoritarian measures and destroyed the city for statistically insignificant gains as compared to Sweden, Florida, or Texas. Meanwhile, leftist and Democratic journalist herald these cities as a positive examples and make believe that the pandemic is all Trump fault for not imposing some sort of draconian lockdown in January.

      Nobody is saying nothing should be done, but why are Democrats so willing to shut down economic activity for very small insignificant gains. These business will not come back. Many people will suffer as our leaders continue to use this pandemic as a means to destabilize our economy beyond repair.

      • If you think Ny accomplished nothing, then you need to stop reading Clay’s idiocy and go to the data. I supplied links.

        But if you’d prefer to hand your brain to Clay to be used as his plaything, that is your right.

        Come on Clay . . . I’m not interested in hearing from hour minions. I want to hear from you. Man up and address each oh my arguments, point by point.

        • Or it could just be that Clay Travis doesn’t care to engage with someone who calls his readers minions, and considers Colin Cowherd a role model. I like Colin too, but he’s an entertainer. I take what he says about as seriously as Jim Gaffigan. Might want to just stick to Whitlock’s articles from now on. I think what you’ll find on this site is that no one is going to placate your ego, no one is going to go out of their way to win you over. If Cuomo is your hero, slow clap, enjoy that. Luckily the $100 sign up fee keeps most of the trolls at bay.

          • Or it. could just be that Clay is a coward who is afraid of legitimate debate with somebody who actually understands the difference between legitimate data analysis versus stupid propaganda, and doesn’t have the guts to engage directly with anyone other than one of his minions
            I get it, Clay is just phony and a coward.

    • I think a major part of Clay’s stance that is not addressed by Marc and discarded in Cuomo’s Covid response, is that the people of NY were treated as soulless pawns in a Coronavirus numbers game that have no inherent right to decide how they live their lives. Additionally, Clay has been beating the drum to not focus solely on the Coronavirus numbers game, but look at how the rest of society’s numbers are impacted as well. This is why Clay brings up unemployment numbers as they are a direct index on well-being and health. When suicide rates and drug overdose rates are skyrocketing at the same time due to the undue stress on people being locked down, the battle to preserve human lives is actually being lost. You can’t just lock people down that are not used to being oppressed for generations without major deleterious unintended consequences.
      We can quibble about numbers all day (the scoreboard ultimately favors the southern states anyways) but American’s freedoms have to be part of the equation. It’s inconvenient to politicians and other societal administrators, but this is the American experience set up by the founders. Bryce Hamblin, the mayor of Eagar, Arizona epitomized how an American politician should respond when he was discussing forced Covid restrictions on his citizens- “We will err on the side of freedom.”

    • So in order to believe that New York did a better job than Florida (or any other state, for that matter) we have to ignore the whole and focus on what happens week by week. All in order to judge the respective governors’ responses to the virus. And in doing so, we must ignore all those deaths that happened during the outset in New York, which also coincides with Cuomo’s disastrous executive order to force elderly people who tested positive for the virus into nursing homes. Is this for real?

      As for the trends you espouse, New York’s death numbers have not flatlined. Nor has their infection rate. Nor has their death rate. And in the one that really matters, they are still 22,000+ actual dead people over Florida, that state these supposed analytics are meant to prove is on a path to death. In fact, Florida would have to TRIPLE its current totals to tie New York.

      But somehow New York is the model for handling the virus. Unbelievable.

    • The only defense Cuomo has is that NY was hit first by the virus and infections were escalating before the idea of social distancing was popularized and before lockdowns were deemed acceptable as a form of public policy. However, if you accept that as truth, you also have to accept that NY has had a far higher percent of the population infected than revealed by testing and has likely reached or exceeded the threshold for herd immunity. This would mean Cuomo’s actions probably had little effect on mitigating the spread of the virus. On the other hand, his actions (as Clay has frequently pointed out) may have led to a higher than necessary fatality rate due to the decision to send COVID patients back to nursing homes.

      Meanwhile in Florida, confirmed cases have peaked and deaths have crested with minimal policy intervention. Aside from reversing the reopening of bars, everything else has stayed open in Florida including amusement parks. This observation further supports the idea that the threshold for herd immunity is far lower than some experts initially believed. If so, Florida and NY have both reached a threshold for herd immunity but NY’s peak daily death rate was more than twice Florida’s. Unless there is some unforeseeable change in the dynamics of the virus, Florida’s final fatality rate (# fatalities / population) will never reach anywhere close to NY levels.

      Population density may have an effect on the herd immunity threshold and thus the fatality rate of the virus. Age distribution will certainly have an effect on the final fatality rate of the virus as the infection fatality rate of COVID has such a steep age gradient. As Clay has pointed out many times, you would expect the fatality rate in Florida to be higher than NY due to the higher concentration of elderly people. I agree that a more comprehensive analysis should be done to compare the performance of the two governors, but modelers are nowhere close to being able to accurately predict the dynamics of the virus. We will not be able to comprehensively judge the governors’ performance for a few years, once the parameters of the virus have been accurately measured. In the meantime, using what we know right now, it appears Ron DeSantis has done a much better job than Cuomo.

  4. As someone wisely asked a few months ago, if there was a deadly outbreak in Montana, would NYC close down? Just because NYC residents ride on subways and live in shoe boxes doesn’t mean the rest of the country should have to follow the same guidelines. I appreciate your first hand accounts, but just as you say us Southerners do not understand NYC, you know virtually nothing of our situation. I intentionally do not live in a high density metro area, I think those places are great when you are young and single but as someone raising a family it would be hellish.

    We have had to deal with closed schools (thanks to the friendly neighborhood communist teacher unions), Millions out of work, and an assortment of other violations of our civil rights. Why? Mainly because politicians like Roy Cooper have a narrative to sell and a National Election to win. My Son has been in day camps all summer, not one child or counselor got sick. The schools here remain (mostly) closed and we are now paying for our Son to attend yet another camp, where no kids or counselors have been infected. If you can’t see the fallacy of logic there, I have some beautiful Oceanfront property in Kentucky to sell you. A perfect place for you to get away from the City and relax (sounds like you need it).

  5. Clay

    As a doctrine centrist I have issues with your corona takes. The media which is sometimes loose with the truth and or bends in the direction of a particular partly lines’ platform has been buttoned up and flying straight with their Covid coverage. There is no “lets play this for all its worth with hope that it damages Trump”. That would be some Samurai barrel into the country and reduce small businesses to smoldering ash type level stuff. Those on the right (I’m not conservative or woke) but that impeachment hearing that took place over the Ukraine call needed to take place. Just unfortunate that it was going as the virus was creeping in its spread.

    I hope to the Lord God above that all OK listeners, readers and consumers enjoy this serving of sarcasm. And pray tonight that certain folk are not in the business of academia. You need to get a wider entrance to the VIP comment portal because some large heads are looking to enter.

    Clay, you F’g rock!!!

  6. Wow. A CuomoCoronaBro. Imagine being so indoctrinated as to come up with a rambling, moving the goalposts defense of Governor The Other Fredo.

    Just like Flatten the Curve became we need a vaccine became it’s the side effect, now it’s not deaths it’s the density of population and other stuff…

  7. Interesting how not one of these brainless Clay minions has bothered to address any substantive point and just ranted and repeated the lines Chicken Clay programmed them to repeat. Not one original thoughtful idea. What a collection of losers.

    • Well, you are definitely woke, calling people who disagree with you minions and losers. I suspect (and hope) your VIP fee is coming back to you and we can look forward to not seeing you here anymore.

      • No, I’m definitely not woke. I’m a Jason Whitlock fan. That should tell you something.

        The people I’m calling losers and minions are not people who disagree but people who refuse to engage in bona fide debate by considering specific points made and addressing them. I think the woke crowd is as pathetic as you lowlifes.

        I hope they Chicken Clay does return my VIP fee. I love Jason, but not enough to associate with the collection of cowards and human sewage that populates this pathetic dumpster fire.

  8. FYI, here’s the email I just sent to info@outkick.com. You are all welcome to send in your own emails urging them to send me packing immediately — but I’m fine continuing to call out Chicken Clay and exposing you to intelligent thought longer if they choose to wait the nearly-a-year period to expiration of my term or I get bored, whichever comes first.

    * * *

    Please cancel my OutKick VIP.

    I love Jason Whitlock and he is the reason why I subscribed. But I can’t say I love him so much as to be willing to associate with Clay Travis the rest of the human sewage you refer to as VIP members. find Clay Travis to be intolerably inept in expressing his views, mainly in the sub-standard data analysis he uses in connection with his covid rants. Even worse, I find him to be an appalling coward for refusing to engage in bona fide debate on the data.

    I understand you cancellation policy, as expressed in your Terms of Service, give you the right to effect the cancellation at the end of my current subscription term. I accept that.

    However, you may want to seek feedback among your other members, who seem to find my determination to debate on data and facts as opposed to political slogans intolerable. As a courtesy to them, you may wish to make a voluntary choice to refund the unused portion of my subscription and effect the cancellation immediately.

    So the choice is yours. If you want to stand on your cancellation policy, go for it. I’m good with that. If you choose to protect the delicate sensibility of Clay’s minions and shield them from exposure to suggestions Clay is a lying lowlife, that, too will be acceptable to me.

    I look forward to continuing to post and participate for as long or short a time as you can tolerate a voice from outside the narrow right-fringe echo chamber.

    Have a good day.

    Marc Gerstein

  9. “Human Sewage”, “lowlifes”, “collection of losers”, “brainless Clay minions”; Good Lord Marc, after just maybe two months of interacting with Outkick members you make these definitive judgments and claim Clay is a chicken? I engaged you after your initial post regarding Cuomo in a respectful manner, factually based, as have others. We disagree, these things happen, what’s important is the civil discourse, and eventually, when honest people engage in civil discourse, minds can be changed.

    I’m sure I have not read all your posts and reactions to them, but my gut tells me you are either a plant to stir up emotions, thus increasing site activity (living in America, you can’t help but be skeptical about everything, so that’s why I think this is a possibility, but based on my interaction with the folks that are part of Outkick, it would surprise me, as they seem genuine, and above such a move), or a person who should look in the mirror first, drop the name calling, and then re-engage in a more respectful manner, taking the high road when someone else does not.

    I think you’ll find, that the majority of members, are mature, thoughtful folks who are capable of conceding a point. The majority of members also seem to be conservative, as am I. I believe they see BLM as not an honorable organization, they do not believe in kneeling during the national anthem, they see a lot of hypocrisy and dishonesty in most of the media, and they are tired of the same ole, “you are a racist, you live in a systemically racist country” when just a cursory look into the reality shows these things not to be true.

    If you don’t agree with some or all of these points, that’s great. I for one, and I’m sure many others on the site, relish the chance to engage in civil discourse with you. Barring any truly inappropriate posts (not through disagreement, but incivility) Outkick is not going to cancel you, I don’t believe that’s how they operate.

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