States with least restrictions now have worst outbreaks: NYT

States that imposed the least coronavirus restrictions tend to have worse outbreaks, according to a New York Times analysis of data from the University of Oxford.

The analysis plots new cases against an Oxford index of how strict an area’s restrictions are.

South Dakota, North Dakota and Iowa, for example, have the fewest restrictions and the most per capita cases. Maine, New York and Hawaii, on the other hand, have more restrictions and fewer cases per capita.

Governors in Iowa and North Dakota had long resisted imposing a mask mandate, and only did so in recent days as the outbreaks continued to get worse and worse. Gov. Kristi Noem (R) in South Dakota still has not imposed a mask mandate, amid one of the worst outbreaks in the country.

The correlation is not perfect. Outbreaks are now worsening almost everywhere in the United States, across a wide range of varying policies. New Mexico, for example, stands out for having a bad outbreak amid tougher restrictions.