COVID-19

COVID-19

Two weeks ago I was inspired by a fellow wonk named Christopher Ingraham of The Why Axis to plot out COVID vaccinations, cases and deaths via bar graphs instead of my usual scatter plot graphs.

Today I'm posting updated versions of all three, with two major data updates:

Class Action Movie

 

As I've been arguing for well over a year now, the COVID-19 pandemic was utterly politicized by the Trump Administration right from the start...and the vaccination effort has similarly been completely politicized by the Republican Party since the moment President Biden took office as well.

Aside from the massive public health fallout, this fact has all sorts of poltiical implications as well, of course. Most of those involve pundits speculating about "the blame game" and so on; will voters in states like Florida and Texas blame their governors for doing everything possible to stymie reasonable pandemic safety measures such as mask mandates, or will they blame the Biden Administration for...I don't know, not tying people to a chair and manually forcing the COVID vaccine into their arms?

For weeks now, however, people have been asking me an even more basic, crass question about the impact of political tribalism on the 2022 midterm election:

Florida

For the past couple of months now, most of my COVID scatter-plot charts...whether measuring vaccination rates, new case rates or new death rates...have been based primarily on partisan lean. That is, at both the state and county levels, I've been using the percent of the 2020 Presidential vote won by Donald Trump as the basis for comparison.

I've also looked at vaccination rates by other criteria, of course: Population density, urban vs. rural status, education level and median household income levels...but none of these have had nearly as high a correlation as sheer partisan lean has (although I haven't checked any of those in over a month; perhaps the situation has changed by now).

COVID-19

I've gotten a lot of attention for my COVID "scatter plot bubble graphs" over the summer, laying out the COVID vaccination and case/death rates across every county nationally (well, mostly; Nebraska has stopped posting county-level data entirely, and Florida has only been posting county-level case data, not deaths, since June).

Data visualization is a tricky thing, though; sometimes line graphs are the way to go (that's what I did last year); other times scatter plots are more appropriate. But some people don't "get" either of these, so today let's look at some bar graphs.

COVID-19

For nearly a year, I posted a weekly analysis of the 100 U.S. counties (out of over 3,100 total) which had the highest cumulative rates of COVID-19 cases and deaths per capita. In addition, I also included a running graph which compared the ratio of COVID cases & deaths per capita between blue and red counties to track how this changed over time.

The results were extremely telling: In the early days of the pandemic back in March/April 2020, the blue counties were devastated for a variety of reasons, including heavy population density, the fact they were mostly located along the coasts (usually in cities with major international ports/airport hubs), and so forth. Democrats tend to live in heavily-populated urban areas, while Republicans are prone to live in more sparsely-populated rural areas, so this made sense.

For the first few months, both case and death rates were running as much as 4-5x higher in counties which voted solidly for Hillary Clinton in 2016/Joe Biden in 2020 than in those which voted for Trump in either 2016 or 2020.

NBC Logo

Back on July 1st I noted that a national Yahoo/YouGov survey concluded the obvious:

However, the biggest factors by far in this survey are Party Identification and Who you voted for in 2020:

  • 30% of Republicans still refuse to #GetVaxxed, as well as 21% of Independents...vs. only 5% of Democrats
  • 32% of Trump voters still refuse to #GetVaxxed...vs. just 3% of Biden voters

Joe Biden received ~81.3 million votes last fall. Donald Trump received 74.2 million.

That means, assuming this poll is relatively accurate and representative, there's around 2.44 million Biden voters who are apparently unreachable...but 23.75 million Trump voters who fall into that category. The other ~13 million refuseniks presumably voted 3rd party or didn't vote at all.

MA Health Connector

Last week I noted that MNsure, Minnesota's state-based ACA exchange, announced that while the general, open-ended 2021 Special Enrollment Period had ended back in mid-July, they're still letting any Minnesotan who received unemployment benefits at any point in 2021 the opportunity to enroll in ACA healthcare coverage & take advantage of the American Rescue Plan's Unemployment Benefit.

The key point is that Minnesotans can still do so even if they received UI benefits prior to the July 15th SEP deadline. This means that if you were on unemployment back in, say, January or February, and you still need healthcare coverage for the remainder of 2021, you can still visit MNsure.org and get coverage for the last 4 months of this year for $0 in premiums and with mostly nominal deductibles/co-pays (assuming you aren't eligible for employer-based coverage, Medicaid, etc. instead).

Peterson / KFF

A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece reminding people that the Affordable Care Act explicitly prohibits insurance carriers from charging higher premiums for enrollees who voluntarily refuse to get vaccinated against COVID-19 (presumably not including those who can't do so due to being allergic, being immunocompromised, being under 12 years old, etc), and noting several reasons why this is the case.

I concluded, however, by noting that:

Having said that, those who don't get vaccinated will start facing more financial penalties soon anyway...a point which is included in the NY Times article above itself:

In 2020, before there were Covid-19 vaccines, most major private insurers waived patient payments — from coinsurance to deductibles — for Covid treatment. But many if not most have allowed that policy to lapse. Aetna, for example, ended that policy on Feb. 28; UnitedHealthcare began rolling back its waivers late last year and discontinued them by the end of March.

3-Legged Stool (original)

Over the past few weeks, as the Delta COVID-19 variant has surged across the country and COVID vaccination rates have plummeted, there's been a growing cry from many vaccinated Americans. Here's just a few examples:

Step up private sector. Mandate vaccinations for employees and consumers. Looking at you health insurance companies. Add insane premiums for those eligible yet refuse to be vaccinated. Deny hospital coverage for chosen unvaccinated hospital care.

— Ethan Embry (@EmbryEthan) August 3, 2021

It’s clear that new messaging—along with the obvious employer mandate—is having an impact.

Now’s a good time to require vaccines to fly.

Insurance companies should also raise premiums for the unvaccinated. Smokers pay more. Covid is more deadly than smoking—and it’s contagious. https://t.co/ob9d9ofoIn

— Angry Staffer (@Angry_Staffer) August 1, 2021

Pandemic of the Unvaccinated

 

Let's be clear: There's a good ~48 million or so children under age 12 who haven't been approved to take the COVID-19 vaccine yet, roughly 14% of the population. There's also perhaps 8 - 9 million Americans age 12+ who are immunocompromised or have serious allergic reactions to vaccinations, meaning the vaccine would have no effect on them or they can't take it at all. Combined, that's around 17% of the total U.S. population who can't get vaccinated, leaving it up to the other 83% of us who can to do so.

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