County governments are essential to the coordination of a state's public health response in an emergency, but counties have the autonomy to utilize different strategies. During the coronavirus pandemic, the virus rapidly spread through some communities in Texas before it arrived in others. This led to a situation where specific counties needed to take action to reduce the rapid spread of the virus before state officials adopted a statewide mandate. The counties in need of a coordinated public health response issue local stay-at-home orders in this critical window. Using an event history analysis, we find a significant association between rising infection rates and partisanship as predictors that accelerated the timing of a local stay-at-home order. To evaluate the effectiveness of an early stay-at-home order, we analyze responses from a statewide survey of random adult residents. We find that an individual's experience with a local stay-at-home order is strongly associated with an individual's compliance with the social distance recommendations of public health officials compared to residents of counties that did not implement a local stay-at-home order.
Journal of Political Institutions and Political Economy, Volume 1, Issue 4 Special issue - The Political Economy of Pandemics, Part I
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