Story at a glance

  • A partisan gap in COVID-19 deaths is widening, with just 40 percent of people in counties that had voted for Trump vaccinated compared to 53 percent of people in counties that had voted for Biden.
  • The White House said last month that unvaccinated Americans face a more than 18 times higher risk of being hospitalized with COVID-19 than those who are vaccinated.
  • Though former President Trump has received a COVID-19 vaccine and has encouraged other adults to do the same, other conservative leaders continue to make dubious or false claims about the vaccines.

A partisan gap in COVID-19 deaths is rapidly expanding as the question of whether to be vaccinated against the novel coronavirus becomes increasingly politicized.

There was no discernible difference in the rate of people who died of COVID-19 in areas that voted for President Biden and those who voted for former President Trump at the end of 2020, but that changed once vaccines were made available, and residents of red states are now dying at an alarmingly faster rate, the New York Times reported.

Americans in heavily Trump-supporting counties were more than three times as likely to die from COVID-19 in October than those in heavily Biden-supporting counties, with death rates of 25 per 100,000 people and 7.8 per 100,000 people, respectively, according to the New York Times report. Alaska and Washington, D.C. were excluded from the analysis because data was not available.


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As of mid-September, roughly 53 percent of people in counties that had voted for Biden were fully vaccinated compared to 40 percent of people in counties that had voted for Trump, the health non-profit Kaiser Family Foundation reported. While the rate of vaccination has slowed in both groups, the gap between them has widened over time, and it’s not certain that a federal vaccine mandate or mandatory regular testing will be enough to narrow it.

Another recent Washington Post-ABC News poll indicated that 47 percent of Republicans were not likely to get vaccinated compared with just 6 percent of Democrats. Unvaccinated Americans were more than 11 times as likely to die from COVID-19, the White House said last month during a press briefing.

It’s possible that the partisan gap may already have peaked thanks to antiviral COVID-19 medications from Pfizer and Merck, according to the New York Times. People in hard-hit red states may have also developed a greater natural immunity to the virus, but that is still weaker than vaccinated immunity.

Though Trump has advocated for Americans to get vaccinated, and is fully vaccinated himself, other Republican leaders have made often dubious or unfounded claims about the vaccines’ effectiveness.

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) in July urged Americans to “just say no” to the vaccine despite praising Trump for saving lives with the speedy development of vaccines just one year earlier.

“People have a choice, they don’t need your medical brown shirts showing up at their door ordering vaccinations,” she wrote on Twitter in July, using Nazi-era imagery. “You can’t force people to be part of the human experiment.”

Others still aren’t pushing back against the vaccine itself, but against a federal mandate to make them mandatory.

"President Biden's latest and most far-reaching COVID mandate completely ignores science. Forcibly vaccinating people who already have immunity ignores medical data and is a brazen violation of Americans' privacy rights,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tx.) said last month in a statement despite being vaccinated himself. “With these new mandates, President Biden and his administration have chosen to put politics over science and the rights of Americans once again."

Editor's note: The story at a glance section has been revised for clarity.


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Published on Nov 08, 2021