November 8, 2021 Wayne Northey

Consider: “U.S. Covid Deaths Get Even Redder”

The partisan gap in Covid’s death toll has grown faster over the past month than at any previous point.

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David Leonhardt

By David Leonhardt

Nov. 8, 2021

photo above: Image by torstensimon from Pixabay

WN: This remains consistent everywhere: vaccinations save lives.

See too: Partisan Gap in Covid Deaths Growing Thanks to Right-Wing Vaccine Disinformation. We read:

The fact that heavily Trump counties had over three times more Covid-19 deaths in October than heavily Biden counties shows that “anti-science aggression on the right has had deadly consequences,” said one epidemiologist.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), nearly 40% of Republican adults remain unvaccinated, compared with just 10% of Democratic adults.

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It remains to be seen whether Americans’ willingness to take lifesaving antiviral treatments from Pfizer and Merck will be shaped by the same forces that turned inoculation into a partisan issue.

See as well, by Shirin Ali | Nov. 9, 2021: New data from Texas suggests unvaccinated people are 20 times more likely to die from COVID-19. We read:

A new study out of Texas found that unvaccinated people were 20 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than vaccinated people and that people living in Texas were four to fives times more likely to contract and die from COVID-19 while the delta variant was prevalent there.

The Texas Department of State Health Services analyzed data among people who tested positive for COVID-19 who were vaccinated and unvaccinated, and published the results today. The report compares data from two different timeframes, between Jan. 15 and Oct. 1 against data from Sept. 4 to Oct. 1.

It found that among those who died from COVID-19 between Jan. 15 and Oct. 1, 85 percent were unvaccinated. Only 7 percent of those who died were vaccinated against the virus.

Between that same timeframe, the study found that unvaccinated people were 40 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than fully vaccinated people. Jumping to the Sept. 4 to Oct. 1 timeframe, that number dropped to 20 times more likely to die from COVID-19.

excerpts:

But it turned out that these differences largely offset each other in 2020 — or maybe they didn’t matter as much as some people assumed. Either way, the per capita death toll in blue America and red America was similar by the final weeks of 2020.

It was only a few percentage points higher in counties where Donald Trump had won at least 60 percent of the vote than in counties where Joe Biden crossed that threshold. In counties where neither candidate won 60 percent, the death toll was higher than in either Trump or Biden counties. There simply was not a strong partisan pattern to Covid during the first year that it was circulating in the U.S.

They proved so powerful, and the partisan attitudes toward them so different, that a gap in Covid’s death toll quickly emerged. I have covered that gap in two newsletters — one this summer, one last month — and today’s newsletter offers an update.

The brief version: The gap in Covid’s death toll between red and blue America has grown faster over the past month than at any previous point.

In October, 25 out of every 100,000 residents of heavily Trump counties died from Covid, more than three times higher than the rate in heavily Biden counties (7.8 per 100,000). October was the fifth consecutive month that the percentage gap between the death rates in Trump counties and Biden counties widened.

The true explanation is straightforward: The vaccines are remarkably effective at preventing severe Covid, and almost 40 percent of Republican adults remain unvaccinated, compared with about 10 percent of Democratic adults.

Charles Gaba, a Democratic health care analyst, has pointed out that the gap is also evident at finer gradations of political analysis: Counties where Trump received at least 70 percent of the vote have an even higher average Covid death toll than counties where Trump won at least 60 percent. (Look up your county.)

As a result, Covid deaths have been concentrated in counties outside of major metropolitan areas. Many of these are in red states, while others are in red parts of blue or purple states, like Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Virginia and even California.

This situation is a tragedy, in which irrational fears about vaccine side effects have overwhelmed rational fears about a deadly virus. It stems from disinformation — promoted by right-wing media, like Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News, the Sinclair Broadcast Group and online sources — that preys on the distrust that results from stagnant living standards.

The future of Covid is uncertain, but I do think it’s possible that the partisan gap in Covid deaths reached its peak last month. There are two main reasons to expect the gap may soon shrink.

One, the new antiviral treatments from Pfizer and Merck seem likely to reduce Covid deaths everywhere, and especially in the places where they are most common. These treatments, along with the vaccines, may eventually turn this coronavirus into just another manageable virus.

Two, red America has probably built up more natural immunity to Covid — from prior infections — than blue America, because the hostility to vaccination and social distancing has caused the virus to spread more widely. A buildup in natural immunity may be one reason that the partisan gap in new Covid cases has shrunk recently.

Death trends tend to lag case trends by a few weeks, which suggests the gap in deaths will shrink in November.

Still, nobody knows what will happen next. Much of the recent decline in caseloads is mysterious, which means it may not last. And the immunity from vaccination appears to be much stronger than the immunity from infection, which means that conservative Americans will probably continue to suffer an outsized amount of unnecessary illness and death.

Please click on: U.S. Covid Deaths Get Even Redder

Wayne Northey

Wayne Northey was Director of Man-to-Man/Woman-to-Woman – Restorative Christian Ministries (M2/W2) in British Columbia, Canada from 1998 to 2014, when he retired. He has been active in the criminal justice arena and a keen promoter of Restorative Justice since 1974. He has published widely on peacemaking and justice themes. You will find more about that on this website: a work in progress.

Always appreciate constructive feedback! Thanks.

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