Major Gapin Death Rates Persists Between Red and Blue States in the US


Updated on - Written by
Medically reviewed by Kathy Shattler, MS, RDN

Despite high numbers of vaccinations in the COVID-affected U.S, death rates are still somewhat high. Currently, death rates in red states (those which support the Republican Party) are 38% higher than in blue states (those which support the Democratic Party).

Political polarization in the U.S. has seen Americans part even further in key pandemic response efforts. According to Pew Research, “On many subjects related to COVID, public attitudes differed not only by a political party but within each party, depending on where people turned for news and information.” 

With surveys completed by Pew Research, it is now known that Democratic states believe the virus is a major threat to the U.S population’s health, while Republican states thought this less so.

Politicization Plays a Major Role in Death Rates

Though politicization of the virus plays a significant role in the differing death rate perceptions while political beliefs strongly influence citizens’ behavior and the uptake of vaccinations. “ A recent study published in the National Institute of Medicine’s National Library of Medicine (NCBI) found that “politicization has undoubtedly contributed to hesitancy toward the uptake of the COVID vaccine.”

The study further added, “It is urgent for scientists and clinicians to better understand:

  1. the roots of politicization as related to COVID-19 vaccines
  2. the factors that influence people’s receptivity to scientific misinformation in politicized contexts
  3. how to combat the politicization of science to increase the use of life-saving vaccines.”

With unvaccinated U.S. citizens more likely to become hospitalized and die from COVID, this gap in red and blue states shows a current reluctance for some to become vaccinated, wear masks or follow restrictions. 
As news sources reported, “For unvaccinated Americans, the decision to not wear a mask or follow other restrictions, ultimately caused increased transmission, which in turn, resulted in more severe outcomes, experts suggest. The end result is a wide gap in COVID-19 death rates between red and blue states, one that is particularly amplified when examining the most and least vaccinated states.”

Cumulative Death Rates in the Red States is a Whopping 30% Higher

As news sources report, “Data sourced from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that the ten states with the highest vaccination rates all voted for Biden in 2020, while nine of the ten states with the lowest vaccination rates voted for Trump.” 

  • On average, the death rates in states that voted for Trump were more than 38% higher than in states that voted for Biden, post widespread vaccine availability.
  • The ten states with the lowest percentage of full vaccinations had death rates of almost twice as high as those states with the highest vaccination rates.
  • The ten states with the lowest vaccination rates were between 50 and 54.5% of the total population.
  • The ten states and jurisdictions with the highest vaccination rates, which all voted for Biden, saw an average of about 82.2 related deaths per 100,000 residents. 
  • About 75% of residents had been fully vaccinated in all ten states.
  • According to federal data, more than 250 million Americans have received a shot — representing about 76.8% of the total population. Fifty-seven million eligible Americans over the age of five remain completely unvaccinated.

As of February 2022, just 56% of Republicans have been vaccinated as compared to 70% of Independents and 92% of Democrats. In addition, a third of Republicans reported that they definitely would not get vaccinated.

1.1 Million Additional Deaths to be Expected

Worryingly reported on the news, “In the absence of a vaccination program, an analysis from the Commonwealth Fund found that there [will be] approximately 1.1 million additional COVID deaths and more than 10.3 million additional COVID hospitalizations in the U.S.”

For those still unvaccinated, federal data has shown that they are nine times more likely to die from COVID and six times more likely to require hospitalization than those who are vaccinated.

It’s not a State Issue, It’s a Personal One

Whether Republicans continue to be less concerned about the dangers of COVID and remain skeptical of medical advice about preventing its spread, and democratic citizens continue to express concern about COVID, the increase in BA.2 infections remain a concern. 

When it comes to pandemic-related health decisions, beliefs, attitudes, and behavior toward public health measures, it must become less of a political and cultural identity and more of a personal decision. 

As the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) puts it, “Human decision-making and information processing are influenced by motivations that color how people evaluate scientific arguments, evidence, and political information… Individuals are vulnerable [to vaccine misinformation] because they rely on identity affirmation rather than a systematic assessment of information” in these settings. 

NCBI continues, “A reliance on ‘identity affirmation’ in processing scientific information means that people often are motivated to evaluate new information in a way that protects their prior beliefs, worldviews, and social identities: when forming beliefs and making decisions, people may seek out information that supports their existing views, selectively avoid or counter-argue against information that challenges an existing belief or identity, and evaluate information that is congruent with an existing belief, worldview or identity as stronger than opposing arguments.”

When the U.S. leaders and authorities are easing restrictions and masking requirements, following restrictions, along with the masks and vaccine mandates, has and will continue to have a significant difference in protecting individuals from infections, hospitalizations, and ultimately death. 

No matter where they reside, U.S. citizens are thus advised to continue to do what is personally relevant to them and their health and follow health and safety measures should they wish to remain COVID-free and out of hospitals.


Medically reviewed by:

Kathy Shattler

Stacey Rowan Woensdregt has more than 15 years of experience in print media, online media, copywriting, and digital marketing. She has written for many bespoke magazines and media houses and has worked within top digital marketing agencies around the world. Her niche markets include architecture, property, health and wellness, holistic medicine, art and lifestyle, and business.

Medically reviewed by:

Kathy Shattler

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