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Top 4 Freest States Amid Coronavirus Panic That Could Be New Home For Lockdown Refugees

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

If you are, like me, stuck in a state where coronavirus restrictions have turned your life upside down, bankrupted your business, and traumatized your kids, and there’s no light at the end of the tunnel, you might be considering a big relocation. There are plenty of states that are retaining liberty in spite of the Chinese flu virus that has a 99% recovery rate. If you are considering fleeing your state for a new one, then look into the following five states that scored the highest in a data-collection study by the financial site WalletHub, showing which states have the fewest coronavirus restrictions. (Please note that coronavirus restrictions change daily. It is possible that by the time this is published one or more of these guidelines will have changed so verify before you pick up and move.)

1. South Dakota

Governor Kristi Noem should be on the shortlist for the Republican presidential nomination for 2024. She is an unapologetic supporter of liberty and refused to lock down her state or force people out of business. While schools closed all over the nation, Noem drew the line at locking people in their homes. Instead, the governor left it up to the people to change their patterns or behavior in light of the pandemic. As a result, sporting teams continued to practice add, with extra precautions, restaurants stayed open.

A friend touring South Dakota in July told me that she saw a high school girls’ volleyball team having camp. The state has been a refuge for sports teams looking for somewhere to play. This has had the added benefit of bringing tourism to the area and, unlike other states, South Dakota’s economy has not taken a hit as a result of the decision by Noem to stay open for business. A great article at Aberdeen News describes all the out-of-town sporting events that came to South Dakota as a result of the governor’s policies. The hockey businesses boomed during the lockdown. “We had the only open ice between Chicago and Denver. I’m serious about that,” said Nathan Sanderson,  executive director of the South Dakota Retailers Association.

South Dakota also enjoys a low tax structure, ranking number 40 on the scale put together by WalletHub for states, ranked from highest to lowest taxes.

Noem also announced that school will open in the fall. Details of how or with what restrictions, if any, are unknown as of now, but it’s a pretty good bet that there will not be draconian restrictions in light of the way South Dakota has handled the crisis.

South Dakota also is one of the very few states left without a mask mandate. Coronavirus is on the decline in South Dakota. According to the CDC website, it is listed on the lower end of states with outbreaks, having seen only fifteen deaths and around 500 new cases.

Gun laws are few and far between. There is no requirement for licensing for open carry. You are required to have a permit to conceal-carry a handgun, but other than that, the law is constitutional carry. If you can handle cold and snowy winters, South Dakota is the freest state in the nation currently.

2. Wisconsin

Surprisingly, Wisconsin came in at number two on the freest states study. Governor Tony Evers tried to lock down his state, but the state Supreme Court struck his order down and he was unable to issue statewide mandates related to coronavirus. That makes it hard to understand how he got away with issuing a statewide mask mandate late last week with a $200 fine if ignored. If a lawsuit is brought against him he’ll probably lose like he did the last time. The good news for Wisconsin residents is that they have an active Republican opposition that will fight. The Wisconsin State Journal reported:

“It’s disappointing that yet again Governor Evers has chosen to not communicate or work with the Legislature,” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said in a statement. “There are certainly constitutional questions here; I would expect legal challenges from citizen groups.”

Wisconsin has the fewest number of bars and restaurants closed, according to the Wallet Hub data analysis. Local health authorities in Wisconsin set the rules, and while some counties are more strict than others, on a statewide level, Wisconsin has more free counties than restricted. They lose points for being a higher tax state, ranking at number 15 on the WalletHub study of American taxes by state.

Wisconsin gun laws are the same as South Dakota. There is only a permit requirement for concealing a handgun; everything else is constitutional carry.

Wisconsin is also full of natural beauty, recreation, and many great local breweries and wineries. While winters are cold and snowy, summers are ideal for all kinds of outdoor sports and water activities on the many lakes and rivers. I can personally vouch for the incredible cheese selection there, too. You haven’t lived until you get some Wisconsin fried cheese curds and wash them down with a Spotted Cow brew. Heaven.

Bonus: The waterparks in the Wisconsin Dells are open!

3. Oklahoma

Oklahoma is a favorite state of mine. I have a lot of family there, so it would be an easy move to make with a full support system already built in. Not only that, but this is the first state on the list where the winters are very mild while still having four seasons. Oklahoma summers are no joke. It is very windy and very hot. However, Oklahomans value their freedom above almost everything and the state has managed to keep the restrictions to a minimum.

According to the CDC numbers, Oklahoma is on the low end of coronavirus in death rates per state. They also do not have a statewide mask mandate, and while some cities did institute local ordinances, they will not be enforcing them through citations. 

Oklahoma also has elected officials actively fighting unreasonable restrictions and at least one who wants to ban mask mandates that some communities are instituting. News 9 reported:

Republican Senator Nathan Dahm of Tulsa County has already started a petition to gather signatures of people who are opposed to mandatory mask requirements like those we’re seeing here in Oklahoma City. Now, Dahm plans on drafting a law.

Governor Kevin Stitt has not called for a statewide mask mandate, so communities around the state are doing it piecemeal.

Senator Dahm doesn’t believe they have the authority, so Dahm said he has gathered a few thousand signatures of folks opposed to mask mandates, and plans to present them to his colleagues in the state legislature.

Oklahoma schools are planning to open for in-person learning with the option to stay home for children whose parents aren’t comfortable sending them. Oklahomans also enjoy a low tax burden and a ranking of 44, with income and property tax rates below 2%. Housing in Oklahoma is also very inexpensive as many building materials, like bricks, are made there. The cost of living is low and Oklahoma ranks high on the list of inexpensive places to live in the United States.

It’s true that tornados are a real problem in Oklahoma, but storm shelters offer good protection as well as insurance. Oklahoma is the ideal place for storm-chasers as the weather is always active and never boring. Oklahoma also has a booming faith community with many churches of all faiths to choose from. Oklahoma has the best gun laws in the nation: none. Any adult may carry a firearm, loaded or unloaded, for any legitimate purpose openly without a license. There is also no license requirement for concealed carry either. Oklahoma is a kickass place. They also have nightclubs that turn into rodeos and then back into bars. It’s an experience, and Cowboys in Oklahoma City appears to be open. If you happen to be in OKC, don’t miss this. It’s awesome.

4. Iowa

Iowa is another state that did not issue statewide mask orders and the governor has defended her decision by asking people to voluntarily wear them, saying that she does not have the authority to enforce a mandate. The Gazette reported:

[Gov. Kim] Reynolds has consistently promoted the state public health department guidance that Iowans should wear face masks when they are in public and come within 6 feet of other people. Her administration recently started a public campaign urging Iowans to wear masks, and she reiterated the recommendation during Thursday’s news conference.

But Reynolds has stopped short of issuing a mandate that all Iowans wear face masks in public. She says a mandate would be difficult to enforce and suggested that some states with mask mandates still have seen increases in coronavirus cases.

Reynolds also has overridden schools’ plans to teach online for more than 50% of school instruction, insisting that students go back to the classroom. The AP reported that schools that do not comply with the governor’s plan will be held accountable. 

Reynolds said the state has provided options for parents to choose remote learning but that schools aren’t allowed to do so without approval. Schools that choose to move to primarily remote learning without obtaining approval from the state, their remote-learning school days will not count toward their required instructional time, she said.

Iowa loses points for being on the higher tax spectrum, ranking at number 10 with a total tax burden of 9.62%. Gun laws in Iowa are pretty good, only requiring permits for purchasing and concealing handguns. They could repeal those permits to score higher on my list, but their governor, who is demanding that life go back to normal as quickly as possible for the kids, makes up for it.

Where’s Texas?

Sadly, shockingly, Texas does not make the list of places I would move anymore. The left has taken over the major cities in Texas. Invaders from California, bringing their politics with them, have made Texas a place that needs major rehab. Coronavirus restrictions are also quite stringent and Texas ranked as the 46th-worst state for restrictions on freedom in the WalletHub study. That’s hard to believe, isn’t it? We should all consider that winning a presidency without Texas is going to be damn near impossible. So for that reason alone, it might be a place to move if your goal is moving to politically strategic places. But don’t expect an abundance of freedom in Texas. Those days are over.

Let me know in the comments below if you agree with my assessment of the best places to relocate, and share your top choices!

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