Since the surge in the South and Southwest began in early June, a theory has developed as to why the death toll has remained relatively low, though it has begun to climb in recent days. Partly, it’s that doctors have a better understanding of how to treat Covid-19; drugs such as remdesivir are among the factors that have apparently made a difference. But it’s also because, well, let’s listen to DeSantis explain what’s going on:

If you look at that 25-34 age group, that is now by far the leading age group for positive tests. … You can’t control them. … I mean they’re younger people. They’re going to do what they’re going to do.

Abbott and Ducey have offered similar explanations. And so has Gavin Newsom, the governor of California. “The young invincibles,” Newsom called the Californians who have been infected in recent weeks. Indeed, several articles about Newsom’s remark included a photograph of a crowded California beach, full of people without masks—exactly the kind of photo that went viral on Twitter a few months ago when the beach in question was in Florida. As you may recall, the hashtag read #floridamorons.

It’s pretty obvious why California and Newsom haven’t been pummeled the way Florida, Texas and Arizona have. California is a Democratic state. Newsom is a Democratic governor. Bringing up California’s pandemic woes punctures the critics’ narrative that Republican mismanagement is the reason for the scary surge in infections. 

In truth, Newsom has done many of the same things that his Republican counterparts are being criticized for. He ceded the reopening process to the counties—which raced to end the lockdown before it was wise. Like the Republican governors, he declined to issue a statewide mask mandate, though he did encourage people to use them. He reopened bars, which caused the same problems in California that it caused elsewhere.

In recent days, Newsom has put the brakes on the reopening in much of the state. He issued a mandatory mask order. He shut down the bars, and indoor dining. But that’s exactly what Abbott has done in Texas. All of these governors are trying to recover from mistakes.

Why did DeSantis, Abbott and Ducey reopen their states so early? For the same reason Newsom did. Not to curry favor with Trump, but because they were all desperate to get businesses up and running and people back to work. Did it backfire? Yes. But it also explains why 38 states—red and blue alike—are experiencing rising numbers of positive cases, according to data compiled by the New York Times. They all opened too early. And it backfired on all of them.

The real problem with the Republican governors is not their mistakes but their arrogance. Until this current surge, they bragged that their approach was the right one, proof that the Republicans had the answer even as Democratic states were struggling. No wonder their critics pounced when it turned out they weren’t right. 

But in their own way, the critics are just as wrong-headed. Yes, Trump and his administration have failed mightily, and they deserve every bit of criticism that is heaped on them. But party affiliation is not the reason cases are on the rise in various states. Finger-wagging is counterproductive and even beside the point. The real question is how to get Covid-19 under control and the country going again.

In the face of this terrible, unseeable virus, hubris has no place, not from Republican governors or progressive pundits. There’s only one right attitude: humility.

This article was provided by Bloomberg News.

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