Since May 2021, people living in counties that voted heavily for Donald Trump during the last presidential election have been nearly three times as likely to die from COVID-19 as those who live in areas that went for now-President Biden. That’s according to a new analysis by NPR that examines how political polarization and misinformation are driving a significant share of the deaths in the pandemic.
NPR looked at deaths per 100,000 people in roughly 3,000 counties across the U.S. from May 2021, the point at which vaccinations widely became available. People living in counties that went 60 percent or higher for Trump in November 2020 had 2.7 times the death rates of those that went for Biden. Counties with an even higher share of the vote for Trump saw higher COVID-19 mortality rates.
NPR was aided in their analysis of the data by Charles Gaba, an independent health care analyst who has been reporting on COVID deaths at the county level throughout much of the pandemic. “The analysis only looked at the geographic location of COVID-19 deaths,” according to NPR. “The exact political views of each person taken by the disease remains unknowable. But the strength of the association, combined with polling information about vaccination, strongly suggests that Republicans are being disproportionately affected.”
These findings are in line with other recent data findings, which have determined that Republicans account for the largest group of unvaccinated individuals and that Republicans are directly exposed to more misinformation, specifically about COVID-19 and its vaccines, and as such are less likely to trust the information they are given by authorities such as the CDC.
“An unvaccinated person is three times as likely to lean Republican as they are to lean Democrat,” Liz Hamel, vice president of public opinion and survey research at the Kaiser Family Foundation, told NPR of the link between political affiliation and vaccination status. “If I wanted to guess if somebody was vaccinated or not and I could only know one thing about them, I would probably ask what their party affiliation is.”
You can read the full report here.