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​Blue Travis County sees lower death rate from COVID than places that voted for Trump, data shows

An NPR analysis found that those in counties that went 60% or higher for Trump had 2.7 times the death rates as those that went for Biden. (Shutterstock)

People living in counties that voted heavily for Donald Trump in the last election have been more likely to die from COVID-19 in recent months than those in counties that voted in favor of President Biden, according to a new NPR analysis. In Travis County, where just 27% voted for Trump, the death rate has been 36 deaths per 100,000 since the spring.


Looking at roughly 3,000 counties across the country since May—when vaccines became widely available—the analysis found that those in counties where 60% or higher voted for Trump in 2020 had 2.7 times the death rates as those that went for Biden.

The data shows that counties with a higher vote share for Trump see lower vaccination rates. In Travis County, 75% of the population 18 and older is vaccinated. South of Austin, in nearby Caldwell County, the death rate is 126 per 100,000—54% of voters in that county went for Trump and 58% of their adult population is vaccinated.

Public health and government officials have been stressing the importance of vaccinations and booster shots ahead of the winter season when more gather indoors, a factor that increases the risk of infection. Officials are also talking about how crucial vaccines are in light of the omicron variant being detected in at least 12 states.

As concerns over the vaccine's safety and efficiency were seen in certain demographics—Black Americans, younger Americans and people in rural areas—early on in the pandemic, that has since shifted. These groups have seen rates rise.

Among Republicans, polling shows there’s high exposure to misinformation on COVID-19 and vaccines. This now makes it the largest group of unvaccinated individuals in the U.S., more than any other single demographic group. Republican vaccination against COVID-19 sits at 59% compared to 91% of Democrats.

Liz Hamel, vice president of public opinion and survey research at the Kaiser Family Foundation, told NPR belief in multiple false statements highly correlates with vaccination status and that political affiliation is now the strongest indicator of whether someone is vaccinated.

“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,” Hamel said.

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