As the U.S. closes in on its second year of the pandemic, the COVID-19 death toll in red America has surpassed that of blue America due to the disparity in vaccination rates, a new analysis finds.
DailyMail.com looked at data from 40 counties where Donald Trump or Joe Biden won at least 60 percent of the vote in the last presidential election in the four most populous states: California, Florida, New York and Texas.
At the beginning of 2021, the cumulative Covid death toll per 100,000 people in blue counties was higher than that in red counties, but not by much.
The two started to diverge in the spring and, by November, Trump counties were recording death tolls 1.3 times higher than Biden counties were.
This is similar to the pattern seen on state-by-state basis.
In Florida, for example, the per capita death toll in Trump counties this month is 1.6 times higher than in Biden counties.
The main reason for the disparity is vaccines.
COVID-19 death tolls were similar in red states and blue states at the start of the year, but this changed after the mass vaccination campaign took off.
In some cases, the death toll in Trump counties was always higher and the divide only began to grow with the rollout of vaccines.
In others, the death toll started out larger in Biden counties before it was taken over by that of Trump counties.
In January 2021, the Trump counties had a cumulative per capita death toll of 98.03 per 100,000 while the Biden counties’ toll was 114.11 per 100,000. Currently, Biden counties have a death toll of 213.36 per 100,000 compared to the toll in Trump counties of 272.55 per 100,000
DailyMail.com looked at Covid deaths from 40 counties in the four most populous states: California, Florida, New York and Texas. Pictured: An inmate from El Paso County detention facility prepares to load bodies into a refrigerated temporary morgue trailer in El Paso, Texas, November 2020
For the analysis, DailyMail.com analyzed data from Open Data NY, California Open Data and White House COVID-19 Community Profile Reports.
Cumulative deaths and deaths per capita were calculated from January 2021 to November 2021.
A sample of 40 counties with a population of at least 5,000 from California, Florida, New York and Texas – where either Trump or Biden won at least 60 percent of the vote in the 2020 presidential election – were examined.
Of the counties, 22 went for Trump while 18 went for Biden.
There was not a great divide in the per capita death toll when the New Year rang in, although the rate in blue counties was higher.
In January 2021, the Trump counties had a cumulative death toll of 98.03 per 100,000 while the Biden counties’ toll was 114.11 per 100,000.
Three months later, as more and more Americans rolled up their sleeves to get immunized, the death toll in red counties slightly overtook that of blue counties.
By April 1, the death toll was 174.25 per 100,000 in Trump counties compared to 167.74 per 100,000 in Biden counties.
A total of 53% of people in U.S. counties who voted for Biden (blue line) are fully vaccinated compared to 40% of counties that voted for Trump (red line)
Republicans have been less likely to get vaccinated against Covid at 56% compared 92% of Democrats, and are more likely to say they never plan to get shots
This divide remained rather small throughout the spring and into late summer, with red counties recording a death toll of 186.8 per 100,0000 compared to 178.68 per 100,000 by July 1.
Then came the fourth wave fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant, during which Southern states (with traditionally lower vaccination rates) were hit harder than their Northern (and generally more vaccinated) counterparts.
As of November 8, Biden counties have a death toll of 213.36 per 100,000. By comparison, the toll in Trump counties is 272.55 per 100,000 – 1.3 times higher.
This divide is likely due to a difference in vaccination rates among party lines.
According to a report from the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), as of mid-September, about 53 percent of people in U.S. counties who voted for Biden are fully vaccinated compared to 40 percent of counties that voted for Trump.
This gap has widened dramatically since April, when 23 percent of people in Biden counties were fully vaccinated compared to 21 percent of those in Trump counties.
Additionally, a September Gallup poll found 92 percent of those who identify as Democrats have gotten at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine compared with 56 percent of Republicans.
What’s more, about a quarter of Republicans say they will ‘probably’ or ‘definitely’ not get vaccinated.
This makes them the most vaccine-hesitant group in the country.
The national trend of Biden counties having lower death tolls than Trump counties seems to hold true on a state-by-state basis.
In California, the per capita death toll in blue counties was 104.67 per 100,000 compared to 65.34 per 100,000 in January. In November, the death toll in Trump counties overtook that of Biden counties at 192.31 per 100,000 compared to 186.94 per 100,000
In California, blue counties that Biden won with at least 60 percent of the vote had a higher death toll per capita at the beginning of the year with 104.67 per 100,000 compared to 65.34 per 100,000.
However, by November, the Trump counties’ death toll had exceeded the Biden counties’ with 192.31 per 100,000 compared to 186.94 per 100,000.
This is especially more prevalent when looking at a county-by-county breakdown.
In Sonoma County, in Northern California with a population of 483,000 that went for Biden, the per capita death toll was 42.15 per 100,000 in January.
Meanwhile, in Shasta County, another Northern California county with a population of 177,000 that went for Trump, the per capita death toll was 63.76 per 100,000.
The gap only continued to widen over the year and reached its widest point in November.
As of November 8, the per capita death toll is Sonoma County is 81.63 per 100,000 compared to 198.05 per 100,000 in Shasta County.
Similarly to the national level, vaccines seem to be the reason for the disparity at the county level.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 52.2 percent of the total population in Shasta County has had at least one dose of a Covid vaccine and 44.4 percent of residents are fully vaccinated.
Comparatively, 78 percent of the population in Sonoma County has received at least an initial dose and 69.2 percent of people are fully vaccinated.
Trump counties in Texas had a slightly higher per capita Covid death toll at 115.83 per 100,000 compared to 105.57 per 100,000 for the Biden counties. This has since widened to 333.91 per 100,000 for Trump counties compared to 217.86 per 100,000 for Biden counties
The same trend can be seen in other states, such as Texas.
In January, Trump counties in Texas had a slightly higher death toll at 115.83 per 100,000 than the Biden counties at 105.57 per 100,000.
This divide only grew through the spring and summer all the way to November, with blue counties recording a toll of 217.86 per 100,000.
Meanwhile, the counties where Trump won more than 60 percent of the vote currently have a per capita death toll of 333.91 per 100,000.
Even in populous counties that went for Biden with a higher raw number of deaths, the per capita fatality count is higher in more rural counties that went for Trump.
For example, in Dallas County – home to 2.6 million and where more than 60 percent went for Biden – the death toll stood at 2,033 in January.
Meanwhile, in Angelina County – between Dallas and Houston with a population of 86,000 and that went for Trump – the death toll was 149 at the beginning of the year.
However, per capita, this translates to 77.78 per 100,000 deaths in Dallas County compared to 171.71 per 100,000 in Angelina County.
This has exponentially widened to 207.87 deaths per 100,000 as of November in Dallas compared to 471.35 in Angelina – 2.25 times as many.
CDC data show that 62.5 percent of Dallas’s total population has had at least one vaccine dose and 42.2 percent are fully vaccinated.
Comparatively, 47.6 percent in Angelina have had at least one shot and 42.2 percent have completed their vaccination series.
Blue counties had a death toll per capita of 80.44 per 100,000 compared to 116.21 per 100,000 for red counties. By November, these had diverged to 233.01 per 100,000 compared to 357.41 per 100,000, respectively
In Florida, similar to Texas, the per capita death toll in red counties was only slightly higher then blue counties before it began diverging
Counties where Biden won at least 60 percent of the vote had a death toll of 80.44 per 100,000 in January compared to 116.21 per 100,000 in the Trump counties.
From that date, the gap continued to grow before exploding after the summer, when Florida experienced its record-breaking surge fueled by the Delta variant.
By November, Biden counties had a per capita death toll of 233.01 per 100,000 compared to 357.41 per 100,000 – a rate 1.6 times higher.
County-level data show a similar story.
In Broward County, the second-most populous county and home to Fort Lauderdale – which went for Biden – the per capita death toll was 94.99 per 100,000 in January.
Meanwhile, in Marion County – home to 375,000 people and which went for Trump – the per capita death toll was not much larger at 123.17 per 100,000.
But, by the fall, the difference was much greater at 465.27 per 100,000 for Marion, 1.8 times greater than the 249.18 per 100,000 in Broward.
Once again, vaccination rates appear to be the key factor.
In Broward, 75.6 percent of residents have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccines and 64.1 percent are fully vaccinated, CDC data show.
In Marion, 58.4 percent have had at least one dose and 52.1 percent are fully immunized.
Trump county death tolls have not yet over taken Biden county death tolls in New York, but the gap is shrinking. In January, the per capita death toll was 99.33 deaths per 100,000 in Trump counties compared to 162.32 deaths per 100,000 in Biden counties. These counts are now 206.51 per 100,000 and 227.44 per 100,000, respectively
Of the four most populous states, New York is the only state in which the Trump counties’ death toll have not over taken the Biden counties’ death toll.
This is likely due to New York being the epicenter of the first Covid wave in spring 2020, before vaccines or treatments existed, and at one point recording 800 deaths per day, mostly in New York City, the most populated city in the U.S.
However, the gap appears to be shrinking, with the red counties on track to soon overtake the blue counties.
In January, counties in New York where Trump won more than 60 percent of the vote had a per capita death toll of 99.33 deaths per 100,000.
By comparison, Biden counties recorded a death toll of 162.32 deaths per 100,000.
Since winter 2021, this disparity has significantly shrunken.
As of November 7, Biden counties have a death toll of 227.44 per 100,000 compared to the Trump counties with 206.51 per 100,000.
Similarly, more populated counties had higher per capita death tolls at the beginning of the year only to have lower death tolls than less populated counties by autumn.
In New York County, where Manhattan is located and with a population of 1.6 million – which went for Biden – the per capita death toll was 133 per 100,000 in January.
Comparatively, in Trump county Montgomery – near Albany with a population of 50,000 – the death toll was 93.59 per 100,000.
Now, Montgomery has a death toll 1.6 times higher at 308.65 per 100,000 compared to 185.21 in New York County.
Vaccination rates appear to be playing a role with 86.6 percent with one dose and 74.5 percent fully vaccinated in New York County and 64.9 with one dose and 60.7 fully vaccinated in Montgomery County.