Washington ranked 30th-safest state during COVID-19

Washington state has been listed as the 30th-safest place to live in America amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new national ranking by WalletHub.

The personal finance website looked at the vaccination rate, positive testing rate, hospitalization rate, death rate, and level of community transmission to determine its ranking of all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

“As the U.S. continues its efforts to fully overcome the COVID-19 pandemic and new variants, staying safe is one of Americans’ top concerns,” the WalletHub study states. “Safety is also essential for getting the economy back on track, as the lower COVID-19 transmission and deaths are in a state, the fewer restrictions there will be and the more confidence people will have to shop in person. While the country has dropped almost all restrictions and the number of new COVID-19 cases per month is down significantly since the beginning of the year, increasing the percentage of people who have been vaccinated and received booster doses is still key to getting back to life as normal. The good news is that around 67% of the population has been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as of July 20.”

WalletHub analyst Jill Gonzalez commented on the Evergreen State’s in-between finish.

“Washington ranked 30th in this iteration of the report, which is updated monthly,” she explained in an email to The Center Square. “It essentially ranks near the middle of the pack in all five metrics, including the level of COVID-19 community transmission, the rates of positive testing, hospitalizations and death.”

Still, Washington fared better than its Pacific Northwest neighbors, Oregon and Idaho, which finished at No. 38 and No. 35, respectively.

Washington’s 30th-place finish in WalletHub’s study might be considered something of a disappointment for Gov. Jay Inslee, who has frequently touted the state’s response to the pandemic as a model of success.

On Jan. 20, Inslee testified before the U.S. House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis about how the state responded to the pandemic.

“Now the question is did those strategies work?” Inslee asked. “They worked big time, and I want to talk to you about that.”

The governor emphasized Washington’s response was grounded in science and the advice of public health experts, with the overriding goal of saving lives.

Inslee went on to note in his testimony that the key to economic recovery is related to suppressing the virus as quickly as possible, including masking and vaccination efforts.

Inslee’s testimony before a congressional committee was different in tone than what he said the previous September during an interview with Mike McClanahan on TVW’s “The Impact,” discussing vaccine mandates and his use of emergency powers, the latter of which has been in effect since Feb. 29, 2020.

“There is only person in the state of Washington who has the capability to save those lives right now,” Inslee said, “and it happens to be the governor of the state of Washington.”

Mike Faulk, Inslee’s deputy communications director, was not impressed by WalletHub’s study.

“Washington state obviously has been one of the healthiest and safest places to be during the pandemic,” he told The Center Square via email.

He went on to link to two Statista databases and a COVID-19 case count from the New York Times to back up his assessment.

“We have one of the lowest death rates per 100,000 for the whole pandemic,” he said. “And one of the lowest case rates per 100,000 all-time. We’re one of the best for percent fully vaccinated.”

Faulk questioned WalletHub’s methodology.

“The WalletHub report is kind of a mess,” he said. “It includes things like the graphic attached that leave me scratching my head. The weight/score they give different metrics isn’t explained. It looks like this is a ranking that gets updated every few months or so, to provide a point-in-time snapshot, not an all-time ranking of how states weathered the last 2+ years. But it’s possible the people who published this aren’t even sure what they meant when they wrote the catch-all ‘during Covid.’”

Faulk concluded, “And we’re still focused on keeping people safe. Please encourage your readers to get their booster shots.”

According to the state Department of Health's COVID-19 Data Dashboard, there are currently 222 COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people in Washington, with 12% of hospital beds occupied by COVID-19 patients.

The 10 safest states, according to WalletHub, during COVID-19:

1. Maine

2. Rhode Island

3. North Carolina

4. Connecticut

5. Vermont

6. New Hampshire

7. North Dakota

8. South Dakota

9. Maryland

10. Nebraska

The 10 least safe states, according to WalletHub, during COVID-19:

51. Tennessee

50. Mississippi

49. Louisiana

48. Arkansas

47. Michigan

46. West Virginia

45. Missouri

44. Iowa

43. Georgia

42. Kentucky

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