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Infographic – Covid-19 Deaths Shift to GOP Areas

Chart: Covid-19 deaths in U.S.

Click on image for full-size view. (Pew Research Center)

5 Mar. 2022. In a special report this week, Pew Research Center describes the changing impacts of Covid-19 throughout the U.S. over the pandemic’s two years, with political preferences now playing a key role. Their data show regions of the U.S. voting more strongly for Donald Trump in 2020 are now bearing the main brunt of Covid-19 deaths. Pew Research Center compiled the data from official reports of Covid-19 deaths in the U.S. collected by the New York Times.

Today’s infographic displays several different interacting factors. The chart shows Covid-19 death rates over the past two years, divided across the top into six time periods reflecting different spikes or lulls in cases. The horizontal bars in the chart are groups of U.S. counties, each representing about one-fifth of the population, stacked from counties with the highest percentage of votes for Donald Trump at the top to those with most votes for Joe Biden at the bottom. Each bar then is divided into color-coded shares of total Covid-19 deaths for each of the six time  periods, with the length of each bar representing total numbers of deaths.

Early in the pandemic, the most densely populated regions of the U.S. had the most Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths. These areas include major cities, in many cases ports of entry for international travelers, who brought the novel coronavirus as it was then called to the country. In the U.S., larger cities are also more likely to vote for Democrats, and thus early on counties with the highest percentage of Biden voters were also those with the highest Covid-19 death rates.

Over the course of the next two years, the color coded sections of the bars show a shift of Covid-19 deaths from counties more likely to vote for Biden in 2020 to those more likely to vote for Trump. At the same time, the length of the bars increase as the share of vote for Trump increases. As a result, the number of deaths in the strongest Trump-supporting counties reaches nearly 239,000 by the end of February 2022, while the counties with the largest Biden support total about 170,000.

One explanation for this difference is the rate of Covid-19 vaccination in Biden vs. Trump-supporting counties. A separate chart in the report shows a strong correlation between percentage of fully vaccinated adults and share of votes for Joe Biden.

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