The headline this morning read Which States Saw the Most COVID Deaths in 2021? America's Least Vaccinated... but it could have easily been "Which States Saw the Most COVID Deaths in 2021? America's Reddest and Most Pro-Trump."
Noah Pransky wrote that "States with the highest COVID death rates tended to have the lowest vaccination rates and fewer social and economic restrictions." Those are states where voters have opted for Republican governance both on the local and federal level. But before we go any further, let's look at the dozen states with the highest per capital death rates:
Oklahoma- 248 deaths per 100,0000 (65.4% Trump)-- Republican governor
Alabama- 230 deaths per 100,0000 (62.0% Trump)-- Republican governor
West Virginia- 216 deaths per 100,0000 (68.6% Trump)-- Republican governor
Arizona- 208 deaths per 100,0000 (49.1% Trump)-- Republican governor
Kentucky- 205 deaths per 100,0000 (62.1% Trump)-- Republican governor
Mississippi- 189 deaths per 100,0000 (57.6% Trump)-- Republican governor
Wyoming- 189 deaths per 100,0000 (69.9% Trump)-- Republican governor
Florida- 188 deaths per 100,0000 (51.2% Trump)-- Republican governor
Georgia- 188 deaths per 100,0000 (49.2% Trump)-- Republican governor
South Carolina- 180 deaths per 100,0000 (55.1% Trump)-- Republican governor
Montana- 178 deaths per 100,0000 (56.9% Trump)-- Republican governor
Arkansas- 177 deaths per 100,0000 (62.4% Trump)-- Republican governor
Just by way of comparison, a state that has taken the pandemic very seriously and has been tops in preventative measures-- including highest vaccination rates-- has had very different outcomes. Vermont has the lowest death rate per 100,000-- just 50. As of this morning, the U.S. fully vaccinated rate is 62%. All of these states, other than Florida with its outsized elderly population, fall below that mark. I included the county in each state that gave Trump his biggest win number, along with their vaccination rate:
Oklahoma- 53% fully vaccinated
Cimarron Co.- 92.0% Trump (30% fully vaccinated)
Alabama- 47% fully vaccinated
Winston Co.- 90.3% Trump (21% fully vaccinated)
West Virginia- 55% fully vaccinated
Grant Co.- 88.4% Trump (43% fully vaccinated)
Arizona- 57% fully vaccinated
Mohave Co.- 74.9% Trump (39% fully vaccinated)
Kentucky- 54% fully vaccinated
Leslie Co.- 89.8% Trump (49% fully vaccinated)
Mississippi- 48% fully vaccinated
George Co.- 87.9% Trump (38% fully vaccinated)
Wyoming- 47% fully vaccinated
Crook Co.- 88.6% Trump (28% fully vaccinated)
Florida- 63% fully vaccinated
Holmes Co.- 89.0% Trump (28% fully vaccinated)
Georgia- 51% fully vaccinated
Brantley Co.- 90.2% Trump (27% fully vaccinated)
South Carolina- 53% fully vaccinated
Pickens Co.- 74.6% Trump (44% fully vaccinated)
Montana- 54% fully vaccinated
Garfield Co.- 94.0% Trump (19% fully vaccinated)
Arkansas- 51% fully vaccinated
Searcy Co.- 83.7% Trump (37% fully vaccinated)
OK, back to Pransky's non-political analysis. "States with the U.S.’s lowest vaccination rates," he wrote, "lost residents to COVID at a rate two to five times higher than states with high vaccination rates in 2021, according to an analysis of the country’s 458,000 COVID-related deaths and nearly 500 million vaccines administered this year. The states with the worst COVID death rates in 2021, according to Johns Hopkins University, were Oklahoma and Alabama, whose national vaccination rates rank 37th and 50th, respectively. Oklahoma lost one of every 403 residents to COVID this past year, while Alabama lost one of every 435 residents."
The high 2021 COVID death rates in some states also seem to correlate with looser attitudes regarding social distancing, mask mandates and restrictions on activities.
In states where mask and business restrictions were met with opposition, such as Florida (188 deaths per 100,000 residents) and Texas (162 deaths per 100,000 residents), death rates were considerably higher than the national average of 137 deaths per 100,000 residents.
...[I]f Florida’s 2021 death rate had matched the national average of 137 deaths per 100,000 residents, 11,000 fewer Floridians would have died from COVID this year. Similarly, 7,267 Texans and 5,456 Georgians might still be alive today had their states also matched the national average death rates.
The Biden administration doesn't have the political will-- the cajones-- to take the tough positions needed to protect the country from COVID. On Monday, Fauci made the smart observation that vaccine mandates could-- should?-- be instituted for anyone wanting to get on an airplane. Within hours, the administration made him walk it back. On CNN last night, he said "Right now, I don’t think people should expect that we’re going to have a requirement in domestic flights for people to be vaccinated. When I was asked that question, I gave an honest answer. It’s on the table, and we consider it. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. I doubt if we’re going to see something like that in the reasonably foreseeable future."