Tag: covid 19 vaccine
How Republican Anti-Vax Madness Killed Off Their Party's Midterm Voters

How Republican Anti-Vax Madness Killed Off Their Party's Midterm Voters

The short version is, COVID is not going away. The long version is, it’s killing way more people in rural areas than in the cities. Those deaths may have had a deleterious effect on Republican turn-out in the midterms and may have even cost the Republican Party some seats in the House and Senate.

It's their own fault, of course. From DeSantis in Florida to Abbott in Texas, Republican governors were in a hurry to get their states out of lockdown but in no hurry at all to get people vaccinated. In fact, some red states passed laws making mandatory vaccination requirements imposed by county and city governments illegal, and in some Republican states, governors forced school boards to re-open their schools before administrators and local school boards thought it was safe.

Here is the way that’s paying off for them. According to figures published recently by the Pew Research Center, death rates in urban areas during 2020 and early 2021 were nine times higher than those in rural counties. In the waves of the disease that followed – the third wave, after the first vaccine roll-out; the fourth or Delta wave; and the fifth, or Omicron wave – the figures were reversed. Death rates in rural areas went up, while those in urban areas went down.

The pattern began to mimic the way people voted in America. In the early stages of COVID, counties that voted Democratic had much higher death rates than rural Republican counties. By the third wave of the disease in the fall of 2020, “Counties that voted for Donald Trump over Joe Biden were suffering substantially more deaths from the coronavirus pandemic than those that voted for Biden over Trump,” according to Pew. As the vaccine roll-out went on, the difference between red and blue counties became more pronounced, even as the total number of deaths in the country began to fall. As the fourth wave of the disease set in, “death rates in the most pro-Trump counties were about four times what they were in the most pro-Biden counties,” according to Pew.

The National Bureau of Economic Research in September published a study of excess death rates in two states, Ohio and Florida, comparing death rates in those states in 2017 before COVID with mortality data from 2018 to 2021, including the first two years of COVID. The study looked at how many more people died after the COVID pandemic hit than those who died in the “normal” year of 2017 before the disease took hold.

By linking death rates to voter registration data in both states, the study was able to determine where the excess death rate was higher on a county-by-county basis. The study found “substantially higher excess death rates for registered Republicans when compared to registered Democrats, with almost all of the difference concentrated in the period after vaccines were widely available.” The overall excess death rate for Republicans was 76 percent higher than the excess death rates for Democrats. But when the study concentrated on rates after vaccines became widely available, the excess death rate for Republicans in both states jumped to 153 percent higher than excess death rate for Democrats.

“The gap in excess death rates between Republicans and Democrats is concentrated in counties with low vaccination rates and only materializes after vaccines became widely available,” according to data from the study. The study’s authors are Jacob Wallace and Jason L. Schwartz, both from the Yale School of Public Health, and Paul Goldsmith-Pinkham of the Yale School of Management.

Pew Research figures echo the study by the National Bureau of Economic Research. “Overall, the COVID-19 death rate in all counties Trump won in 2020 is substantially higher than it is in counties Biden won (as of the end of February 2022, 326 per 100,000 in Trump counties and 258 per 100,000 in Biden counties).”

Jonathan V. Last in The Bulwark screwed the figures from both studies down to the results in the very tight Senate race in Nevada. Last looked up the COVID figures for Nevada and found that between January of 2021 and November of this year, 9,400 people died of COVID. “The data suggests that the majority of these people would have been Republican voters,” Last reported dryly. Adam Laxalt, hand-picked by Trump to run for the Senate in Nevada, lost his race by only 6,000 votes.

It's a fact that if you are vaccinated, you have a far lower risk of dying from COVID. It’s also a fact that rural counties with low vaccination rates had much larger rates of death than counties with high vaccination rates. According to Pew, during the Delta wave of the Pandemic, death rates in counties with vaccination rates lower than 40 percent were six times as high as death rates in counties where 70 percent or more were vaccinated. More recently, over the winter of 2021 and early 2022, when the 7-day average for deaths nationally was between 1,000 and 2,500, death rates in counties with low vaccination rates were twice those of counties where 80 percent or more were vaccinated.

These are grim figures, and they don’t bode well for red America going forward. Right now, today, more than 300 people are dying from COVID every day. According to the New York Times, about 27,000 people in this country are in the hospital with complications from COVID on any given day.

The politicization of COVID has cost an untold number of American lives. Don’t count on recent figures showing that far more Republicans are dying of the disease than Democrats to change anything. The leaders of the party that is suffering the most don’t care, so long as those Republicans still living vote for them.

Researching this story, I was reminded of a day way back in the spring of 2020, when some poor soul at the CDC was asked by a reporter how many people might die from COVID total. The CDC employee, who was in the leadership of the agency as I recall, answered 200,000. That person was sidelined by the Trump White House because at the time, Trump was telling the world COVID was just going to “go away.” The CDC employee was eventually fired. All interviews with CDC personnel from then on had to be approved by the White House.

This year alone, 220,000 American citizens have already died from COVID. The total number of deaths due to the disease in this country is over a million and climbing. It’s not even worth estimating how many fewer deaths there might have been if the Republican Party had not chosen to make shut-downs, masks, and vaccinations a political issue so they could get more votes.

Look where it got them. Trump lost in 2020, and Republicans just suffered the worst midterm results any party has had since the 1950’s. It has apparently been a difficult lesson to learn for Republicans that dead people don’t vote.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Reprinted with permission fromLucian Truscott Newsletter

Disappointing Turnout And Hateful Rhetoric At Anti-Vax March On Washington

Disappointing Turnout And Hateful Rhetoric At Anti-Vax March On Washington

Washington (AFP) - Waving signs denouncing President Joe Biden and calling for "freedom," several thousand people demonstrated in Washington Sunday against what some described as the "tyranny" of Covid-19 vaccine mandates in the United States. It was a much smaller turnout than the 20,000 marchers expected by the event organizers.

Speaker after speaker -- including notorious anti-vaxxer Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who compared vaccine mandates to the Holocaust -- took to the microphone in front of the white marble Lincoln Memorial to decry the rules.

Like other Covid restrictions aimed at reining in a disease that has infected more than 70 million people in the United States, killed more than 865,000 and brought much of daily life around the globe to a stuttering halt for two years and counting, vaccine mandates have become a deeply polarizing political issue.

"Mandates and freedoms don't mix, like oil and water," another speaker said.

"Breathe. Inhale God, exhale fear," exhorted yet another to applause from the crowd, made up of people of all ages, including children, and largely unmasked.

"I'm not anti-vaccine, but I'm anti this vaccine," Michelle, a 61-year-old physical therapist from Virginia who declined to give her last name, told AFP.

She said the messenger RNA serums developed by companies such as Pfizer and Moderna in record time were "too experimental" and "rushed."

The mRNA vaccines, given to millions of people around the world in the past year, have been proven safe and effective, as well as being hailed as potential gamechangers in modern medicine.

Michelle, who paused in the interview to sing the national anthem with other demonstrators, said she has a religious exemption from taking the vaccine -- but that to continue coming to work in Washington she has to get tested every week.

To her regret, her son, who initially had also resisted taking the vaccine, has now relented.

"He went and got it without me knowing -- so much peer pressure," she said.

'My Body, My Choice'

Another demonstrator, Therese is adamantly opposed to vaccines -- all vaccines.

She explained that she came by bus from Michigan, in the north of the country, to protest.

"Mandates are not appropriate... vaccines aren't working, we've been lied to about the vaccines," said the 61-year-old, who worked in a school cafeteria before her retirement and also refused to give her last name.

"And we should not be masking our children," she added.

"I talked to a couple of psychologists who say our children are suffering and they're depressed... It's terrible. We need our freedom back."

Further up the steps, the speakers -- including some people in white coats, presented as doctors from Texas -- continue to come and go.

"We are Americans and that's what we do, we fight tyranny!" claims another.

A few joggers, as if lost, walk through the crowd amid the signs proclaiming slogans such as "My body, my choice" or "God is our rock that will take down Goliath."

There are also many anti-Biden posters and a few flags bearing the name of his predecessor Donald Trump -- under whom the vaccines were developed and who has taken credit for them.

Isaac Six, 34, shrugged off the difficulty of being unvaccinated while in Washington, where proof of vaccination is now required to go to restaurants and other public places.

"It's OK, we're saving money," the 34-year-old charity worker said with a laugh.

Vaccines in general "are wonderful, they have helped millions of people," he added.

But mandating these vaccines, which like all vaccines are not 100 percent effective at preventing transmission, is "completely irrational," he argued.

What worries him are policies adopted "out of fear and panic" and "by one person."

"I would like to see more of the legislative process involved, the people that we elected to represent us be the ones to actually pass legislation," he said.

Pfizer Threatens Termination For Any Unvaccinated Employees

Pfizer Threatens Termination For Any Unvaccinated Employees

Pfizer employees must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in coming weeks or face termination. The Pharma company is mandating all U.S.-based employees and contractors be fully vaccinated by Nov. 15, according to an internal Sept. 21 memo obtained Friday by CBS affiliate, News Channel 3. The requirement does not apply to those with a religious or medical exemptions, according to the outlet. Those who do not abide by the requirement and do not have an exemption could get the boot, according to the memo from Nicole Shaffer, senior Director of Colleague Wellness at Pfizer. The company — whose mR...

Covid-19 vaccine protest in Brooklyn, NY.

Poll: Unlike Other Americans, Republicans Increasingly Reject Science

Reprinted with permission from American Independent

New polling released Friday by the public opinion research firm Gallup finds that Republicans are far less confident in science than they were four decades ago, posing a major challenge to the ongoing campaign to get Americans vaccinated against the Coronavirus.

A total of 64 percent of Americans told Gallup they have "a great deal" or "quite a lot" of confidence in science, down slightly from the 70% of Americans who said the same thing in 1975, the last time the organization asked the question.

But that small drop in confidence overall comes almost entirely from changes in Republican responses: Just 45 percent of Republicans say they're confident in science today, compared to 72 percent who said they were confident 46 years ago.

Democrats, meanwhile, report an increase in confidence in science, with 79 percent saying they're confident today versus 67% in 1975. The 2021 poll was conducted among a random sample of 1,381 American adults from June 1 through July 5, with a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.

Gallup notes that this 34-point difference in confidence between Republicans and Democrats is among the largest partisan gaps measured for any of the U.S. institutions they asked about, exceeding that of newspapers (27 points), organized religion (25 points), and the military (16 points).

Only the partisan split on confidence in the police and the presidency were greater, with Republicans' confidence in the police 45 percentage points higher than Democrats', and Democrats' confidence in the presidency 49 points higher than Republicans.'

Gallup's finding comes at a time when White House officials and public health professionals are raising the alarm on vaccine misinformation. Speaking from the White House briefing room Thursday, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy decried misinformation about the Coronavirus vaccine as an "imminent and insidious threat to our nation's health," releasing a 22-page advisory in which he said responding to it was a "a moral and civic imperative."

In recent weeks, Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations have been back on the rise, as the highly infectious delta variant spreads. Those who have been infected are overwhelmingly unvaccinated individuals, according to experts, with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky saying last month that adult deaths from Covid-19 are "at this point entirely preventable" thanks to vaccines.

Still, misinformation about the safety and efficacy of those vaccines continues to proliferate, primarily on social media and right-wing television. Hosts on channels like Fox News and Newsmax have repeatedly undermined vaccine safety and critiqued the Biden administration's vaccination campaigns.

Studies have found a gap in vaccination rates between counties that supported former President Trump in the 2020 election and those that supported President Biden, with July data showing 47 percent of those living in Biden-supporting counties were fully vaccinated compared to a 35 percent vaccination rate in counties that broke for Trump.

Though numerous factors impact the rate of vaccination in a given county, experts point to misinformation on right-wing media as a key component of the partisan vaccination gap.

"If you have constant exposure to an outlet that is raising vaccination hesitancy, raising questions about vaccinations, that is something to anchor you in your position that says, 'I'm not going to take the vaccine,'" Kathleen Hall Jamieson, a professor of communication at the University of Pennsylvania, told the New York Times.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.