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Strong Pandemic Restrictions Correlate to Higher Restaurant Closures, But Some States Kept Distance and Kept Diners Open

Following up on yesterday’s post about how President Biden’s American Rescue Plan will protect South Dakota’s restaurants and tourism with socialism, I asked Datassential for the state-by-state breakdown of restaurant closures during the pandemic. Datassential obliged faster than the Noem Administration to this press inquiry:

By State Total % Closed % Perm. Closed % Temp. Closed # of Operators Rank for least closures WalletHub rank for least Covid-19 social distancing restrictions Oct 1 2020
AK 13.0% 9.2% 3.8% 1,932 42 12
AL 11.0% 10.1% 0.9% 10,249 19 14
AR 11.0% 10.1% 1.0% 6,194 22 10
AZ 10.5% 9.1% 1.4% 15,429 10 45
CA 13.6% 10.7% 2.8% 105,806 45 50
CO 12.0% 10.0% 2.0% 14,678 36 46
CT 11.3% 9.4% 1.8% 9,254 24 39
DC 21.4% 14.9% 6.5% 2,851 51 43
DE 10.9% 8.2% 2.7% 2,289 17 31
FL 12.2% 10.9% 1.2% 49,037 39 11
GA 10.4% 9.3% 1.1% 23,198 8 13
HI 17.3% 13.0% 4.3% 5,656 50 51
IA 10.3% 9.0% 1.3% 7,114 6 5
ID 8.5% 7.6% 0.9% 4,114 1 2
IL 12.1% 9.8% 2.3% 29,614 37 23
IN 10.4% 9.4% 1.0% 14,327 9 15
KS 11.0% 10.1% 0.9% 6,401 20 17
KY 10.6% 9.5% 1.1% 8,894 12 37
LA 11.5% 9.5% 1.9% 10,903 26 25
MA 13.5% 9.9% 3.6% 17,373 44 49
MD 11.8% 9.6% 2.1% 13,531 30 24
ME 16.3% 9.9% 6.4% 3,666 49 48
MI 11.9% 9.6% 2.3% 21,120 33 30
MN 11.9% 9.3% 2.6% 11,252 32 32
MO 11.0% 9.7% 1.4% 13,681 21 8
MS 9.7% 8.9% 0.8% 5,892 3 22
MT 11.9% 9.9% 2.0% 3,024 35 28
NC 12.1% 10.1% 2.0% 23,001 38 33
ND 9.4% 8.4% 1.1% 1,926 2 9
NE 10.1% 9.3% 0.8% 4,674 5 21
NH 12.3% 9.6% 2.7% 3,450 40 26
NJ 11.6% 9.6% 2.0% 23,252 28 47
NM 11.9% 8.5% 3.4% 4,690 31 34
NV 14.2% 10.7% 3.5% 8,951 47 20
NY 15.3% 12.1% 3.2% 52,060 48 38
OH 10.6% 9.1% 1.5% 25,138 11 16
OK 9.9% 9.1% 0.8% 8,833 4 4
OR 14.2% 11.7% 2.5% 12,662 46 44
PA 11.9% 9.9% 2.0% 28,827 34 42
RI 11.4% 9.0% 2.4% 3,030 25 29
SC 10.9% 9.8% 1.0% 12,050 16 19
SD 10.7% 8.8% 2.0% 2,124 14 1
TN 10.4% 9.2% 1.1% 14,673 7 18
TX 11.6% 10.4% 1.2% 64,629 27 35
UT 11.2% 9.7% 1.5% 6,701 23 3
VA 11.7% 10.4% 1.3% 19,196 29 40
VT 13.3% 9.9% 3.3% 1,742 43 41
WA 12.7% 10.2% 2.5% 20,100 41 36
WI 10.8% 9.0% 1.7% 14,232 15 6
WV 10.7% 9.5% 1.2% 3,736 13 27
WY 10.9% 8.8% 2.1% 1,651 18 7
Grand Total 12.2% 10.2% 2.0% 778,807

South Dakota has seen 10.7% of its 2,124 eateries close down during the pandemic. If we rank states higher for fewer closures, South Dakota ranks 14th in the nation for keeping restaurant doors open. In Minnesota, which has taken the pandemic far more seriously than we have, restaurant closures have reached 11.9%.

One way to read that stat is that even with significantly more restrictions, Minnesota saw only 1.2 percentage points more in restaurant closures. Hmm… Kristi, was that small difference worth hundreds of lives?

Notice that I’ve included WalletHub’s rankings of each state on social-distancing restrictions from October 1. Fewer restrictions mean a higher rank. The correlation is what you’d expect: when I compare ranking on restrictions with ranking on restaurant closures, I get a correlation of +0.57. Fewer pandemic restrictions correspond mildly to a lower percentage of restaurant closures.

But as always with correlations, nothing here is a sure thing. Arizona and Kentucky each restricted gatherings far more than South Dakota (Arizona ranked in WalletHub’s ten most restrictive states), yet each have seen slightly lower restaurant closure rates than South Dakota. Arizona and Kentucky thus establish that states can take the pandemic seriously and still sustain their restaurant industries as least as well as South Dakota did with its lethal recklessness.

10 Comments

  1. John 2021-04-22

    Yes, states and localities that had/have stricter public health standards had better outcomes.
    One can only wish that South Dakota had a governor literate in science. One wonders how a science illiterate denier is able to operate a ranch? Does a science illiterate rancher NOT vaccinate her livestock, or does she let the horses, cattle, sheep, goats, chickens, and turkeys have the freedom to decide for themselves?

    The governor, ever one to get out in front of meaningless and harmful social nonsense, issued an executive order barring vaccine passports (there is no such thing and Biden said the federal government isn’t about to have one).
    The governor now admonishes the South Dakota Activities Association to put children at risk by rescinding their rule that student athletes be vaccinated.
    https://www.argusleader.com/story/sports/2021/04/21/gov-noem-urges-sd-athletics-commission-change-covid-19-requirements-after-vaccine-passport-ban/7326259002/

    Bloomberg notes the Brazilian variant is turning to infect the young.
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-04-22/where-covid-kills-the-young-brazil-shows-what-may-await-others

    Meanwhile Pennington County reported the presence of a Brazilian variant of COVID.
    Grab your popcorn. Get a shot.

  2. Donald Pay 2021-04-22

    I’m not sure what you can take away from the data. The correlation is not strong. Statewide requirements varied over time. You choose the October 2020. There are other dates. In Wisconsin we had various requirements at various times, depending on actions by our state Supreme Court, etc. In Wisconsin my county had very strict requirements, even when the states requirements were struck down. Other counties had very few if any requirements. Our business community supported restrictions, while some of the statewide business community opposed them.

    My daughter, who rode out the pandemic in China, told me that the United States would never match China’s ability to stamp out the pandemic. It had nothing to do with government restrictions. It had to do with a culture of caring for people, especially the elderly, and much greater social cohesion. She said the US has a culture of self over others. She couldn’t believe the ridiculous anti-mask hysteria. Wearing masks has been common in Asia for decades in order to lessen the seasonal flu. In China, they value health and lives over money.

  3. ds 2021-04-22

    Gov. Noem has done everything she can to discredit mask effectiveness and denies her travel to infected Covid-19 hotspots have been harmful to South Dakota residents. Sec. Malsam-Rysdon has spoken at length to encourage the real science of this plague but knows she must tippy-toe around her boss Noem’s anti science mindset.
    Anyone who now denies the potentially life-saving value of the FREE vaccine deserves the consequences when they become infected. Anyone age 16 or over who travels on public transportation needs to be vaccinated. That includes High School and College sports events.

  4. marvin kammerer 2021-04-22

    gov.noem has nothing to do with the running of her dad’s farm or ranch. her 2 brothers are the only ones involved in that operation.she sold out years ago., even when she was in congress.her BS.was then & now was political BS.she is not capable of telling the truth even before she met Trump! she was”nt even a good legislator. while i was testifying before a committee she was on, a republican on the committee had to teller to shut her pinhole so he could hear the testimony.

  5. sx123 2021-04-22

    Early last year Noem says that she doesn’t have the power as gov to enforce lockdowns, masks, etc. (How convenient.) But now she bans vaccine passports? How could she have the power to do one but not the other?

  6. jerry 2021-04-22

    Baseball says “yes, si” to vaccine passports! Private business will make the call to save their business by proof of vaccine.

    “Fully vaccinated baseball fans will be granted their own section at the Los Angeles Dodgers game this weekend against the San Diego Padres.

    The set-aside seats, reported by The Los Angeles Times, are part of the many incentives being offered — from doughnuts to beer — to encourage people to get vaccinated against Covid-19. The Miami Heat and the San Francisco Giants have introduced similar sections at their stadiums.

    To prove they are fully vaccinated, fans will have to show government-issued I.D. and documentation like a vaccination card,” New York Times 4.22.21

  7. Wayne 2021-04-22

    Cory,

    I say this with all the love in the world.

    Please attend a research methods class. Audit one.

    The differentials between all those closure statistics of Minnesota and South Dakota are within the standard deviation of each other.

    If anything, the fact that South Dakota’s closure rate is so close to the mean indicates that South Dakotans did in fact practice personal responsibility and stop socializing to a similar degree as other states with more formal restrictions in place, especially if the differential between tight restriction states like MN and us free-wheelin South Dakotans aren’t very wide.

  8. o 2021-04-22

    I have sympathy for restaurant/entertainment businesses, but I am unclear how much “welfare” they received to offset the costs of doing the right thing to protect from the spread of the pandemic.

    I also wonder if the businesses with more tangible goods will ensure that their employees take home a share of the bounce/spike that will happen when we get back to “normal” — or is it only the downturns that are spread to the workers? “You should just be grateful you have a job” seems to be the next step in labor relations if history is an indication.

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