Warning: The ‘Bigly Concept,’ Per Capita, is used throughout this article. Studies for this article are based on per 100K people, not entire amounts.
Counties that went heavily for Donald Trump continue to see much lower vaccination rates and much higher death rates from COVID.NPR:
Even with free, safe, and effective vaccines and treatments available to the majority of people in the United States, residents of counties that went heavily for TFG in the last presidential election are more than twice as likely to die from COVID-19 than those that live in areas that went for President Biden.
NPR examined COVID deaths per 100,000 people in roughly 3,000 counties across the U.S. from May 2021, the point at which most Americans could find a vaccine if they wanted one. Those living in counties that voted 60% or higher for Trump in November 2020 had 2.26 times the death rate of those that went by the same margin for Biden. Counties with a higher share of Trump votes had even higher mortality rates.
The scale of the preventable loss of life is staggering. According to a recent analysis by Brown University, nearly 320,000 lives nationwide could have been saved if more people had chosen to get vaccinated. The Brown analysis also shows a partisan split in how those preventable deaths are distributed. States that went most heavily for Trump – including Wyoming and West Virginia – have among the highest rates of preventable deaths, while states that voted heavily for Biden – such as Massachusetts and Vermont – had among the lowest.
“How you vote should not predict whether you die of COVID,” says Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist at Brown University School of Public Health. The social causes of the divide are complex, but the immediate reason is dead simple: Trump-leaning counties have far lower vaccination rates than those that went for President Biden. NPR’s analysis showed that the gap was 21 points, with 81% of adults vaccinated in heavily-Biden counties compared to 60% of adults in counties that went for Trump.
Political affiliation continues to be the largest predictor of vaccination status, says Liz Hamel, director of public opinion and survey research at the Kaiser Family Foundation, a non-partisan think tank. Roughly 90% of Democrats say they are vaccinated compared to just 55% of Republicans. Moreover, Hamel says that 37% of Republicans now say they will definitely not get vaccinated. “It does appear that there’s a sort of hardening of attitudes among those who have decided not to get the vaccine,” she says.
Hamel says that previous polling has shown that belief in misinformation is highly correlated with being unvaccinated. Kaiser examined several common pieces of misinformation such as the idea that the government is exaggerating the severity of the pandemic, or that the vaccines contain a microchip. Kaiser’s poll found that 94% of Republicans believed one or more false statements about the vaccines.
Per the CDC:
- Several factors likely affect crude case rates by vaccination and booster dose status, making interpretation of recent trends difficult. Limitations include higher prevalence of previous infection among the unvaccinated and un-boosted groups; difficulty in accounting for time since vaccination and waning protection; and possible differences in testing practices ( such as at-home tests) and prevention behaviors by age and vaccination status. These limitations appear to have less impact on the death rates presented here. CDC is assessing whether to continue using these case rate data to provide preliminary information on vaccine impact.
- People who were unvaccinated had a greater risk of testing positive for COVID-19 and a greater risk of dying from COVID-19 than people who were vaccinated with a primary series (see below for the most recent rates).
- Unvaccinated people in all age groups had higher case and death rates than people vaccinated with a primary series in the same age groups.
- Case and death rates for people vaccinated with a primary series of any vaccine type (Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 vaccine) were lower than for unvaccinated people.
- People who were vaccinated with a primary series and an additional or booster dose had lower case rates overall compared with those without an additional or booster dose. Both of these groups had lower risk of testing positive for COVID-19 and a lower risk of dying from COVID-19 compared with people who were unvaccinated.
- Possible differences in testing, immunity from prior infection, waning of vaccine-derived immunity, or prevention behaviors by age and and vaccination status partly explain differences in rates between groups; trends are likely affected by temporal changes in testing or reporting.