Deadly partisan divide: Gap between COVID deaths in red vs. blue counties larger than ever

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FILE – A Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump sign is displayed in the backyard of a house on August 14, 2016 in Schuylkill Haven, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)

(NEXSTAR) – While the threat of COVID-19 and the highly-transmissible delta variant may be felt in communities of all political leanings, a recent analysis shows that there is a stark, partisan divide when it comes to deaths caused by the virus.

In 2020, the likelihood of dying from COVID among conservatives and liberals was similar by the end of the year, the New York Times reports.

After the arrival of vaccines that are highly effective against hospitalization and death in the spring of 2021, however, the death rate in red areas began to climb above that of blue ones.

October saw the largest difference to date, with three times as many residents dying of COVID-19 in counties where at least 60% voted for Trump than in counties that supported Biden.

When it comes to the percentage of vaccinated people in these communities the numbers are reversed, with increasingly more Biden supporters getting vaccinated than Trump supporters.

A poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 90% of adult Democrats said they had received at least one dose of the vaccine, compared to roughly 60% of Republicans.

There is reason to hope that the widening gap in deaths among liberal and conservative communities will start to narrow again soon, the Times reports.

Along with the growing segment of the population that has recovered from a bout with COVID-19, the paper also cited the new antiviral treatments from Pfizer and Merck that the companies say are highly effective against serious COVID-19 illness and will help prevent death everywhere.

The Food and Drug Administration is already reviewing Merck’s version of the antiviral pill after successful initial results, and Pfizer said last week that the company will ask the FDA for authorization as soon as possible.

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