Variation in US states’ responses to COVID-19

Blavatnik School working paper
Laura Hallas
Ariq Hatibie
Saptarshi Majumdar
Monika Pyarali

BSG-WP-2020/034 Version 2.0

US states continue to display significant variation in responses to COVID-19. This working paper updates the assessments of policy stringency by region, political leadership, and COVID-19 spread amid a critical policy moment in the US. The authors use Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker indicators and aggregate stringency indices to describe variation in government responses, explore the relationship between government response and the rate of infection, and identify correlates of more or less intense responses.

The authors find that Midwestern states, as well as Republican-voting states have less stringent policy measures overall, while Northeastern states have more stringent and longer lasting policies. They also apply the OxCGRT ‘Risk of Openness Index’ to the US context, showing high risk levels across all regions.

In combination, this paper provides an overview of US states’ COVID-19 policy action as well as unique applications of Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker indicators and Risk of Openness index scores to inform policy making and research at this key moment in the US COVID-19 response.

Data presented in this paper is available via GitHub.