The Effects of Partisanship on COVID: Red States Take Lead in COVID Case

Ariana Jaramillo, Political Writer

Republican Lead States and Counties Fight a Tougher Battle Against COVID-19

As the Delta variant continues to affect millions across the country, the COVID-19 vaccine has been a life-saver for those who have taken it. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for those who haven’t, as death tolls are rising in states and counties with low vaccination rates. More specifically, republican majority states and counties, a trend that has been deemed “red COVID.”

According to Charles Gaba, a healthcare analyst at, “In counties where Donald Trump received at least 70% of the vote, the virus has killed about 47 out of every 100,000 people since the end of June. In counties where Trump won less than 32% of the vote, the number is about 10 out of 100,000.”

Variables are important to consider in Gaba’s study though. Since Republicans tend to be older as a demographic group in comparison to Democrats, older people are experiencing higher COVID-19 death rates.

Journalist Glen Greenwald also quoted, “There are other potential confounders that should be addressed. For instance, the disparity in health outcomes between rural and urban populations likely means that people in counties that voted heavily for Trump have other comorbidities that place them at greater risk of death from COVID-19.”

Disparities are involved as well. Greenwald included, “And people who live in rural areas also experience significant disparities in health care access, with higher rates of uninsured, diminishing available health care facilities, and longer travel times to the nearest hospital.”

As for the issue with trusting the vaccine, the reasoning for this is important, as gaining understanding can open up discussions about possible solutions. History plays an important part in the hesitation towards Republican voters believing science, but trust seems to be the largest component.

Many Republican voters have a hard time trusting science, but more prominently, they have a hard time trusting the U.S. government. “A cursory look at history bears this mistrust in the U.S. and its science out. Gulf War Syndrome, Agent Orange, the history of forced sterilization on poor whites, indigenous peoples, Puerto Ricans, and African Americans, the Tuskegee experiment, the Guatemala syphilis experiment, to name a few cases in which science was complicit in harmful actions,” according to Vince Montes, California State University, East Bay Political Sociology professor.

There are additional groups still hesitant to get the vaccine as well. Montes also included, “the label of an anti-vaxxer seems to be exclusive to poor and working-class white people who are seen as supporters of Trump. However, the so-called anti-vaxxer appears to be a cross-section of people, including African Americans, Latinos, healthcare professionals, law enforcement, military personnel, and various other parts of the population.”

Regarding the mistrust in the government, an anonymous student at CSUEB agrees, saying, “I don’t like this particular relationship that science and the government have built, it feels suspicious to me. Everyone says, “believe science” but so many bad things have been done in the name of science. The government has done so many bad things while using science as a reason.”

Vaccine mandates have not made swaying Republican voters to get the vaccine any easier. “Being coerced into getting the vaccine by threatening loss of employment doesn’t feel fair to me. It feels like an attack on my right to choose. It makes me feel more suspicious that something is wrong with it. Especially because it’s free. Not even the flu shot is free,” the same student said.

A possible solution to the issue? Montes suggests making the scientific data more transparent. “What are people’s or their cohort’s risks of having an adverse outcome due to a COVID-19 infection? Do not just say get vaccinated. Show likely results based on age, race-ethnicity, gender, general health, and comorbidities. Show the studies that demonstrate comparisons between people with immunity from vaccinations versus immunity by prior infection, et cetera.”

As death counts continue to rise, it’s important to find a solution to this mistrust fast. Especially since COVID isn’t waiting.