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Tale Of Two Americas: Vaccinated Blue Counties, Unvaccinated Red Counties

July 18, 2021

There was no way this weekend to miss the most pressing story in the nation. Be it newspapers, radio news, or evening broadcasts on the major networks it was blatantly clear our nation is facing a test of reason and logic vs. conspiracy theories and selfishness. As COVID cases rise and a tenacious variant takes hold there is a severe contrast between that part of the nation understanding why it is vital to be vaccinated and the other part that remains adrift from reality.

While much of the nation tiptoes toward normalcy, the coronavirus is again swamping hospitals in places like Mountain Home, a city of fewer than 13,000 people not far from the Missouri border. A principal reason, health officials say, is the emergence of the new, far more contagious variant called Delta, which now accounts for more than half of new infections in the United States.

In Baxter County, where the hospital is, fewer than a third of residents are fully vaccinated — below both the state and the national averages. Even fewer people are protected in surrounding counties that the hospital serves.

“It’s absolutely flooded,” said Dr. Rebecca Martin, a pulmonologist, as she made the rounds of 2 West one morning last week.

In the first half of June, the hospital averaged only one or two Covid-19 patients a day. On Thursday, 22 of the unit’s 32 beds were filled with coronavirus patients. Five more were in intensive care. In a single week, the number of Covid patients had jumped by one-third.

How a vaccine can be viewed as political is hard to fathom. But there are ways to show that such links can be made between how a county voted in 2020 for president, and how the vaccination rates have developed this year.

In Tennessee, Donald Trump won 61% of the vote, and this weekend the state had only 43% of their residents with even the first vaccine dose.

Holmes County in Ohio is where Trump won 83% of the vote, This weekend only 15% of the people there had one dose of the vaccine.

Waushara County in Wisconsin has only a 35% vaccination rate. The county is so Republican and easily led astray from facts, that the county has become a source for news stories. In the 2020 presidential election, the County voted 66% for Donald Trump. Now by almost the same percentage, the county refuses to be vaccinated. He refused to recognize the severity of the virus and undermined efforts to mitigate the spread of the virus such as encouraging the use of masks.

One of the main factors driving differences in COVID-19 vaccination rates across the country is partisanship. Our surveys consistently find that Democrats are much more likely to report having been vaccinated than Republicans, and Republicans are much more likely to say that they definitely do not want to get vaccinated.  In May, just as vaccine supply was starting to outstrip demand, we examined average vaccination rates by county and found that rates were lower in counties that voted for Trump in the 2020 Presidential election compared to those that voted for Biden. Now, two months later, we find that not only does this remain the case, the gap has grown.

There are more than medical concerns when pondering these statistics. What new business would want to establish themselves in a county with a population that is not able to understand the necessity of being vaccinated against COVID or have any more regard for the larger community? What does it say about a region where facts and common-sense are not being used by people for their own well-being? Is that a place where any serious business operation would want to set up shop?

Personally, I find the people refusing the vaccine, and in so doing harming the larger community, both in terms of health and economics, to be selfish and truly stupid. To know they are acting in such a repulsive fashion due to their allegiance to the most moronic person to ever sit in the Oval Office underscores why the majority of the nation thinks of them as we do.

And so it goes.

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