Why did governors shut down their states? Experts share their insight

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While the nation works to continue to lower the number of new cases of COVID-19, governors are lifting stay-at-home orders and trying to restart their states’ economies.

Since the impact of the virus was experienced differently across the country, Augusta University Political Science Professor Dr. Gregg Murray and Augusta University Hull College of Business Professor Dr. Susan Murray launched a study to examine the scientific, political and economic factors behind governors’ decisions to issue stay-at-home orders to fight the spread of coronavirus.

In their report, “Following Doctor’s Advice: Explaining the Issuance of Stay-At-Home Orders Related to the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) by U.S. Governors,” the two researchers analyzed the timeline of the shelter-in-place orders from March 1 until April 10. The findings indicated that scientific factors alone did not influence the governor’s decisions.

“We discovered that public health factors related to the spread of the disease influenced these mandates — as the number of coronavirus deaths increased, governors became more likely to issue a stay-at-home order. As we dug deeper, though, we found political factors related to the partisanship of the governor and economic factors played even larger roles in governors’ decisions to close their states,” said Gregg Murray.

As World Health Organization officials warn of a second wave of the coronavirus, Susan Murray suggests their findings can help forecast government response to future health care crises.

“If this prediction from health officials is correct, then we should be prepared to be ‘locked down’ again,” said Susan Murray. “In particular, those who live in a state with a Democratic governor, weak economy or widespread cases of the coronavirus are at a higher risk of being shut down.”

If you are a journalist looking to cover the political and economic aspects of states’ responses to the coronavirus, then let our experts help with your stories. Both professors are available for interviews on their research.

Dr. Gregg Murray is a highly acclaimed researcher in his field and editor-in-chief of the scientific journal Politics and the Life Sciences. His expertise focuses on political behavior and psychology with specific interests in voter mobilization and turnout. He has been featured on CNN and is a go-to for national media covering campaigns.

Dr. Susan Murray is an award-winning expert in business management and an accounting professor in the James M. Hull College of Business at Augusta University.

To schedule an interview, call 706-522-3023.


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Written by
Danielle Harris

Danielle Harris is Senior Media Relations Coordinator at Augusta University. Contact her to schedule an interview on this topic or with one of our experts at 706-721-7511 or deharris1@augusta.edu.

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Written by Danielle Harris

Jagwire is your source for news and stories from Augusta University. Daily updates highlight the many ways students, faculty, staff, researchers and clinicians "bring their A games" in classrooms and clinics on four campuses in Augusta and locations across the state of Georgia.

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