Despite the fact that there are nearly 8 million cases of coronavirus in the U.S., the pandemic is still heavily politicized in the country.
President Trump largely eschews mask wearing and falsely claimed during a town hall this week that “85% of the people wearing masks catch” Covid-19 despite becoming infected and sick himself. And amid the president’s behavior on a national stage, Republican-leaning areas of the U.S. are now experiencing a surge in coronavirus cases.
“To the extent that public health measures have become politicized, it really should be no surprise that we see that the spread of the disease also runs along political lines,” Dr. Steven McDonald, a New York-based emergency medicine physician, said on Yahoo Finance’s The Ticker (video above). “When you have a Republican president telling Republican supporters that mask wearing is not necessary, even after he’s had coronavirus from a maskless event, it’s no surprise that we see surges in Republican areas.”
Data compiled by web developer Dan Goodspeed shows just how badly Republican-leaning areas have been hit in the last four months as compared to Democratic-leaning states:
‘The rise in the death rate will be soon to follow’
Coronavirus initially spread quickly on the American West coast and the Northeast, with New York City becoming the global epicenter for a time, before transmission declined rapidly after governors implemented statewide mask mandates and stay-at-home orders.
The South experienced its own wave of cases after governors lifted restrictions early into the pandemic, and transmission remains troublingly high in that region. In recent months, coronavirus spread as moved across the Midwest. Now, states in the West including Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Idaho are seeing their own spikes in cases amid lax social distancing policies.
“The concern there is that these are geographies that don’t have the same density of hospitals and doctors as you do in the Northeast or the metropolitan South or California,” he said. “New York was completely overwhelmed — but at the same time, we have many many hospitals in the New York City metropolitan area. That’s really not the case where the disease is now surging and so, that means that critical patients have fewer critical beds that they can be slotted to. That makes me very nervous.”
North Dakota and South Dakota currently have the most confirmed cases per capita among U.S. states, according to data from the New York Times. South Dakota’s governor, Kristi Noem, a Republican and staunch Trump supporter, declined to impose any mask mandate or business restrictions within her state. She’s also attributed the surge in cases to increased testing, although that doesn’t account for the surge in hospitalizations her state is also experiencing.
“People are acknowledging that the hospitalization rate is increasing,” McDonald said. “First you see the rise in cases, then the rise in hospitalizations, then the