The Situation in Brazil as of June 22

Brazil is now a global hotspot for the covid-19 pandemic, with more than 1,000 deaths a day. President Bolsonaro’s failure to respond to the pandemic places the burden on state and local governments to mitigate the spread. However, many of the states are now re-opening their economies without public health protections in place. Combined with rising population mobility, conditions for catastrophic spread of the virus are present in many Brazilian states.

For Brazil, the key trends from February 26, 2020 to June 22, 2020 are the following:

  • The federal government is doing very little to combat the pandemic. In many cases, the federal government actively opposes distancing measures to slow the spread of COVID-19. By doing so, the federal government is delegating the burden of response and containment to state and local governments. 
  • State and local governments acted late – waiting an average of more than three weeks after the first case of COVID-19 was identified to implement distancing measures. Once they responded, the distancing measures were partial and have become less effective  over time.
  • Brazil decreased population mobility, but not as much as in other Latin American countries, according to mobility data from Google. Some states are reopening earlier than health scientists suggest and mobility has risen. 
  • While the general trends above are present in all states, some states have performed better than others in terms of policy measures and mobility. The best performers are not limited to the wealthiest states nor to those that are often considered the best governed. 
  • Instead of the level of economic development or past governance, political affiliations help to explain which states are doing a better job. The relatively marginalized states of the Northeast have done surprisingly well, as have some Northern states. Governors from opposition parties lead these states and have imposed much stricter measures than what the Bolsonaro Administration recommends. 

How States are Performing

State-level performance on the Public Policy Adoption Index and the Mobility Index follow these patterns.

  • The states that are performing best on the Public Policy Adoption Index are Alagoas, Para, Pernambuco, Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Norte, and Rondonia. These states implemented more policy measures than other states and maintained or expanded their measures over the course of the pandemic.
  • The group of states with the lowest scores on the Public Policy Adoption Index are Acre, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, and Paraiba.These states either did not implement strict policy measures or implemented and then relaxed policy measures in recent weeks.
  • The states that have reduced population mobility the most since the first COVID-19 case was documented in Brazil on February 26 are Alagoas, Bahia, Ceara, Sergipe, and Piaui, joined by Rio de Janeiro and Santa Catarina, according to the Google mobility measure.
  • The states with the highest population mobility since the first case of COVID-19 was diagnosed are Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais, Goias, and Rondonia.
  • Optimally, states would perform well in both categories. For our data, the states with strong performance on both policy and mobility are Alagoas and Rio de Janeiro, followed by Bahia, Ceara, Pernambuco, Piaui, Rio Grande do Norte, Santa Catarina, and Sergipe.
  • Some states show poor performance on both policy adoption and mobility declines. The main states in this category are: Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, and Tocantins.

Going forward, if Brazilians cannot rely on the Bolsonaro administration to combat the pandemic through scientifically supported policy measures, it will be essential for state and municipal officials to strengthen policy measures, reduce mobility, and, ultimately save lives. 

Public Policy Adoption Index in Brazil

Our index is based on an index created by Oxford University. We track 10 public policies intended to help control the pandemic. These policies include the closing of schools and non-essential businesses, and stay-at-home orders, among other policies. Measures are weighted based on the date when they were implemented, and on how long they’ve been in place. The black dashed line represents the weighted average of all the states in Brazil.

    Change in mobility in Brazil; percentage change compared to usual mobility

    Estimates based on Google data between February 27 and June 3, 2020. These graphics show the change on population mobility in each country, compared to the usual mobility in the same time period (identified as the 0 baseline.) A decrease in mobility might also decrease the likelihood of community spread. The black dashed line represents the weighted average of all the states in Brazil.

      Comparison of Public Policy Adoption Index and Mobility Reduction Index, state by state