Rep. Kevin Brady told CNBC on Monday that “smart behaviors,” such as wearing masks and social distancing, are the best ways to combat rising infections in his home state and 38 others, not closing the economy again.
“The deadliest per capita rates are in the ‘lockdown states,’ New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, Illinois, and Pennsylvania,” the longtime Texas Republican said in a “Squawk Box” interview. “We are fortunate that the ‘reopening states’ have some of the lowest Covid fatalities per person. Of the top 10 states, the safest rates are in Texas, California, Florida, Georgia, Arizona.”
The number of Covid-19 deaths per 100,000 people of population in New Jersey at 170.5 and in New York at 164.6 are the highest in the nation, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. However, those states were hard-hit in the early days of the pandemic when little was known about the new coronavirus and there were fewer treatment options. Many of the deadly cases early in the crisis were among the elderly who are at greater risks.
Among the states seeing current record case surges are Texas and Florida, which have lower death rates of 9.1 per 100,000 and 17.4, respectively. However, possible fatalities in those states, which have not seen these kinds of spikes yet during the pandemic, could go higher. One of the factors working in their favor is that many of the new cases in states such as Texas and Florida are younger people who are more apt to recover.
“Not knocking New York or New Jersey, but focusing on one of the key elements here, ‘Are we keeping people alive,” of the top 10 states … the five with the deadliest per capita fatality rates happen to be in those ‘lockdown states’ and the safer ones are the ‘reopening states,'” Brady said.
Texas and Florida were among the first states to relax statewide stay-at-home orders. They allowed some businesses to resume operations in early May. However, as cases started to spike last month, the Republican governors of Texas and Florida also became some of the first to slow or reverse reopening plans.
“I think it was important for states to reopen. And for the first month and a half, we saw a drop in infection rates and a drop in hospitalizations as well. But since the Memorial Day, certainly you’ve seen just the opposite,” Brady said, further acknowledging “the next couple of weeks are critical.”
Questioned over using total state death rates as an argument for reopening over lock downs, Brady said, “Inter-woven under all this is, ‘Did states reopen too quickly? Should they go back to locking down their economies?’ My answer is, ‘No they didn’t.’ We expected, I think everyone did, these flare ups.”
“The answer to this is not more locking down of the economy. It is those smart behaviors, both by individuals and businesses,” he added. “The debate is, ‘Did states reopen [too early] and should we relock them?’ My answer is I don’t believe that’s the solution.”