Covid spreading twice as fast in Republican counties than Democrat ones, report says

·3 min read
In this file photo a sign to promote social distancing is seen on Governors Island on 30 April 2021 in New York City (AFP via Getty Images)
In this file photo a sign to promote social distancing is seen on Governors Island on 30 April 2021 in New York City (AFP via Getty Images)

The rate of coronavirus infections is about twice as high in Republican counties as in Democrat counties amid a surge in cases due to the Delta variant, a new report has said.

The Washington Post reported that there have been about 126 new cases per 100,000 residents of blue counties and 278 new cases per 100,000 residents of red ones.

The newspaper says there have been about 237,000 new coronavirus cases recorded in counties that voted for Joe Biden last year while 388,000 for Donald Trump.

Areas are seeing a localised rise in cases due to the more transmissible Delta variant, which now accounts for more than 80 per cent of US coronavirus cases.

An Ipsos poll taken at the start of the vaccination rollout revealed that “Republicans, Black Americans, and those with a high school diploma or less” were more likely to be hesitant of the vaccine.

The New York Times reported in April that vaccination rates were lower on average in counties of which the majority voted for Mr Trump in the 2020 election.

The party has largely remained split on its vaccination messaging, with Mr Trump having conveyed mixed messages in his encouragement for the mass vaccination programme.

"I recommend you take it," Mr Trump said at a recent event in Arizona before hedging his encouragement, saying: "But I believe in your freedoms 100 per cent".

Elsewhere within the ever-divided party, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell urged Americans to seek out jabs this week while controversial representative Marjorie Taylor Greene was briefly suspended from Twitter for spreading Covid misinformation.

Flagship conservative TV personalities have also been known to undermine public confidence in health experts and the vaccination rollout.

Prime-time Fox News host Tucker Carlson has frequently been criticised for questioning the legitimacy of Covid-19 vaccine advice and equating vaccine requirements to segregation.

More than 49 per cent, or 163 million people, across the US have been fully vaccinated against coronavirus since the mass vaccination programme was rolled out in December.

However, despite a massive uptake as the vaccine began its rollout across the country, the vaccination rate has since slowed down as those in rural, often Republican, areas remain hesitant, such as Kansas and Missouri.

Health officials have urged Americans to get their shots, saying vaccines are still the best method of defence against the disease.

The director of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) previously described the new outbreak of infections as a “pandemic of the unvaccinated”.

Dr Rochelle Walensky said: “We are seeing outbreaks of cases in parts of the country that have low vaccination coverage because unvaccinated people are at risk.”

On Tuesday, the CDC reversed its mask guidance for fully vaccinated Americans, encouraging them to cover their faces indoors in areas of high levels of transmission, amid the surge in infections.

The state Department of Public Health has said that 99 per cent of cases between 1 January and last week were among those who haven’t been vaccinated.

Additional reporting by the Associated Press

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