According to a study published in Health Affairs on Monday, highlighting the effects of a partisan response to the pandemic as officials move to counter a further rise in cases.
Counties where 70% or more voted Republican had nearly 73 more Covid-19 deaths per 100,000 population than Democratic counties (where less than 30% voted Republican), according to the peer-reviewed analysis of Covid-19 deaths through October 2021 and county voting behavior.
The figures take into account other factors linked to Covid-19-related mortality such as ethnicity, access to health care, age and chronic diseases.
The disparate death rates are likely due to structural, political and behavioral differences in more conservative counties, the researchers said.
Lead author Dylan Roby, associate professor of health, society and behavior at the University of California, Irvine, suggested that county-level voting patterns likely reflected adherence to protective measures introduced to help curb the pandemic, such as mask mandates and vaccination.
The disparity highlights the shortcomings of a “vaccine-only public health approach,” said study author Neil Sehgal, assistant professor of health policy and management at the University of Maryland, adding that vaccine uptake accounted for only 10% of the difference in death rates between red and blue counties.
“The impact of partisanship doesn’t just affect people of one political stripe,” Sehgal said. “Not everyone who lives in a Republican county votes Republican…Even in the reddest counties, you have people who can’t vote or can’t leave, and yet are subject to the policies and behaviors that surround them.”
From the very beginning, Covid-19 has been a political force in the United States. Polls consistently showed Republicans were more likely to question and oppose public health measures implemented to curb Covid-19 and less likely to get vaccinated. Key Republican politicians, including the governors of Florida and Texas, have rejected or balked at proven public health measures like masks and vaccines, but embraced unproven treatments and favored lifting restrictions sooner. possible. Former President Donald Trump has downplayed the dangers of the pandemic, touted fake treatments like bleach, and illustrated the often highly politicized misinformation surrounding the coronavirus. Overall, Covid-19 has been deadliest in Republican states and least deadly in those leaning Democratic, with eight of the 10 states with the highest per capita death rates leaning Republican.
118,530. That’s the seven-day rolling average of new daily Covid infections in the United States from Friday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. This is the largest increase in new cases since mid-February.
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