Sunday, December 5, 2021

Maybe we need to stop calling it COVID-19, and call it the MAGA-virus

As COVID cases continue to rise in our state and our country after Thanksgiving, it's pretty obvious that some places are getting it a lot worse than others. And frankly, a lot of that damage is self-inflicted by self-centered, stubborn fools.

National Public Radio went in-depth on the numbers over the weekend, and noted that it's Trump Country that has been hammered by COVID in these recent surges. Not coincidentally, it's Republicans are the ones who aren't doing their part to control the virus.
NPR looked at deaths per 100,000 people in roughly 3,000 counties across the U.S. from May 2021, the point at which vaccinations widely became available. People living in counties that went 60% or higher for Trump in November 2020 had 2.7 times the death rates of those that went for Biden. Counties with an even higher share of the vote for Trump saw higher COVID-19 mortality rates.

The trend was robust, even when controlling for age, which is the primary demographic risk of COVID-19 mortality. The data also reveal a major contributing factor to the death rate difference: The higher the vote share for Trump, the lower the vaccination rate....

Recent polling data that show Republicans are now the largest group of unvaccinated individuals in the United States, more than any other single demographic group. Polling also shows that mistrust in official sources of information and exposure to misinformation, about both COVID-19 and the vaccines, run high among Republicans.

"An unvaccinated person is three times as likely to lean Republican as they are to lean Democrat," says Liz Hamel, vice president of public opinion and survey research at the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health policy think tank that tracks attitudes toward vaccination. Political affiliation is now the strongest indicator of whether someone is vaccinated, she says: "If I wanted to guess if somebody was vaccinated or not and I could only know one thing about them, I would probably ask what their party affiliation is.

And we see a similar pattern in Wisconsin, where 21 of the 26 counties that the Wisconsin Department of Health Services listed as having "critically high" case rates at the end of November voted for Trump in 2020, including every one of the 13 counties with the highest rates.

Trump counties also account for 19 of the 20 counties with the highest death rates from COVID in the state over the course of the pandemic, and 8 of those 9 counties are north of Highway 29.

Another pattern emerges among children under 18. Wisconsinites under 12 years of age weren't able to be vaccinated until November, and you can see that gap open up in the number of new cases over last few months.

And the cases in this school year also explains why the total number of cases among kids under 18 (shown in blue on this chart) went from being the lowest in number by age group in Wisconsin through mid-August, to the highest today.

Lastly, Dane County Public Health has given us a glimpse into what things look like in a highly vaccinated area. Even with more than 3/4 of Dane County residents vaccinated, Dane County says that over half of the cases in the last 2 weeks of November came from people who have not had their COVID shot.

In addition, over 1/3 of those people that were fully vaccinated in Dane County have had their booster (shown in light green in this chart), and while the sample size and time frame is small, those people have been extremely unlikely to get COVID so far.

Vax up folks. And damned straight that me and most of my family/friends in Madison have already gotten boosted.

At the risk of sounding mean, I think it is time to reframe the COVID situation from a political standpoint. For serious illness, it is no longer the Coronavirus, and instead it is the MAGAvirus. Let's ID it as such, and show who is the real problem here.

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