An eager reader points out this interesting graph created by healthcare policy analyst Charles Gaba comparing cumulative coronavirus death rates over the last two years in the 10% of counties that voted most strongly for Joe Biden in 2020 and the 10% that voted for the loser:
The strongest Biden counties saw the highest rates of covid deaths at the beginning of the pandemic, in April and May 2020. Deaths in those counties have never matched that initial pace, not in the winter 2020–2021 surge, and not through either the Delta wave toward the end of last summer nor the omicron wave.
Meanwhile, in the strongest Trump counties, coronavirus appears to have started very slowly, with cumulative death rates at the end of May 2020 only an eighth of what the strongest Biden counties saw. But right after mid-July 2020, covid deaths in Trumpland steadily accelerated to the point that the Trump counties’ covid death rate exceeded that of the strongest Biden counties on Inauguration Day, January 20, 2021.
Death rates in both sets of counties decelerated as vaccine rates rose, but death rates in Biden counties got much closer to flat in summer 2021 than they did in Trump counties. The reäcceleration with the delta wave at the end of August was far more pronounced in the Trump counties. The omicron surge in January looks more pronounced on the blue Biden line only because the red Trump death line was already so steep from delta that, apparently, Trump voters couldn’t die any faster. Over the last ten weeks, the Trump counties have added six deaths per week per 100,000 population, while the Biden counties added deaths at a bit more than half that rate.
Or look at the big picture: by January 20, 2021, ten months into the pandemic, both sets of counties had reached 140 covid deaths per 100,000 population. They had taken very different paths to get there, but there they were, in the same bad straits. The only difference was that the Biden counties’ death rate would decelerate while the Trump counties’s death rate would accelerate. In the fourteen months since that crossover, the Biden counties have racked up 100 more deaths per 100,000 population, while the Trump counties have racked up 260.
Over the last fourteen months, covid has killed people in the strongest Trump counties 2.6 times faster than it has in the strongest Biden counties. Multiply that rate by the 33.1 million population in each of those tenths, and we can contend that, if the strongest Biden counties had vaccinated and boosted and masked and socially distanced and taken other precautions to the same extent as the strongest Biden counties, 53,000 more Americans would not have died of coronavirus.