I have watched this debacle (and others) unfold front and center. It is a very interesting reflection of the culture here in Utah.
The politician who led this effort was none other than the president of the Senate. Even though others were baffled by his commitment to getting these drugs, they respectfully talked around it and didn’t challenge him. He is 66yo, and seemed to take the threat of this virus personally. I watched (incredulous) as I saw this unfold on local TV.
Soon after that, a consortium of leaders from Silicon Slopes (Utah’s version of Silicon Valley) stepped forward to “pivot” and “disrupt” - pledging to take on all the testing responsibilities and coming up with a tracking app. Apparently, they had a great deal of sway with the old boys’ network in the government. (The pivot-and-disrupters have now come under a lot of scrutiny for their involvement in the state’s response to the pandemic - and their hubris.)
As luck would have it, though, Utah fares very well when compared to other states’ stats. Experts cite three factors that probably contribute to this: 1) Utah has a very young population - we have LOTS of kids here! 2) Utahns are known to be savers-for-a-rainy-day. We even do that with government money. Even though we rank dead last in dollars spent per pupil, government leaders have been adamant about keeping a rainy-day fund, which is coming in very handy right now. Our populous is not feeling as desperate as others that do not have savings. 3) Based on the fact that the state was established by/for a religious group, the population here tends to be very obedient and god-fearing. For the most part, people are socially isolating here. There is not a lot of dense housing here, either.
There are downsides to the leanings toward obedience and respect, though. As the article above points out, people are rarely held personally accountable for wrong-headed ideas/actions. No one will pay any consequences for the rash money-grabbing efforts, since the participants were allowed to graciously retreat from their plans, and since they are all men. (Utah is demonstrably the least fair-minded state when it comes to gender equality.) It is extraordinary that our lead public health department official is a female who has been allowed to publicly lead in this pandemic. Because Utah has been avowed Trump country, it is no surprise that the Senate president took Trump’s comments as gospel early on. She managed to (along with help from outspoken legislators, one of whom is also a female MD - and local journalists who smelled a rat) squelch the pharmaceutical faux pas without taking a hit herself.
All in all (speaking generally - not specifically) we’re doing OK here in Utah. Numbers of cases are gradually going down. We are (for the most part) moving into Phase III of re-opening. Hopefully, more people are starting to see the huge difference between local and national leadership, and Trump won’t be able to take Utah for granted in the future. We’ll have to wait and see, though. Part of the culture here is not speaking unkindly of others. Ha. (This makes things difficult for someone like Mitt Romney who clearly has outright disdain for the president, but has to couch his feelings in respectful language so that he doesn’t lose the support of many constituents here in Utah.)