The gap in total per capita COVID-19 deaths in Republican and Democratic counties has grown a lot wider since New York Times data journalist David Leonhardt chronicled the red-blue divide in November, at the beginning of the Omicron wave.
At the beginning of the pandemic, blue counties had higher death rates. "Only after the vaccines became widely available, in early 2021 — and liberals were much more willing to get shots than conservatives — did COVID become a disproportionately Republican illness," Leonhardt writes in Friday's Morning newsletter. "By the summer of 2021, the gap was soaring." But while the gap in cumulative deaths continues to expand, the growth the red-blue per capita death rate has slowed during the Omicron wave.
The most likely explanations for this narrowing death rate gap, Leonhardt writes, is "that the number of Trump voters vulnerable to severe illness — which was still very large earlier last year — has declined, because more of them have built up some immunity to COVID from a previous infection." But even with natural immunity, the COVID-19 dead are disproportionately unvaccinated or unboosted in red and blue counties alike. And the number of people dying each day is still tragically — unnecessarily — high.