COVID-related American death data shows dramatic differences between Republican and Democratic counties, with the reddest tenth of the nation in October chalking up a death rate six times higher than that of the bluest tenth, NPR reported.
That radical divergence for Republican counties has since dropped to a still startling 5.5 times higher, according to Charles Gaba, an independent health care analyst who has been tracking partisanship pandemic trends.
NPR’s analysis found that since May, when COVID-19 vaccines became widely available, counties that voted in 2020 for Donald Trump by 60% or more have suffered nearly triple the rate of COVID-related deaths, compared with counties that voted for Joe Biden by the same margin.
NPR gleaned the data by examining deaths per 100,000 people in 3,000 counties.
Though demographics varied widely among the counties, NPR determined that the single biggest factor in the dramatic difference was “misinformation” about COVID-19, which was linked to lower vaccination rates. That held up even when controlling for age, which is the “primary demographic risk” for COVID-19 mortality, NPR noted.
The study found that the higher the vote share for Trump, the lower the vaccination rate.
Republicans are now the largest single demographic group of the unvaccinated in America, NPR reported. Being unvaccinated dramatically increases the risk of death from COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“An unvaccinated person is three times as likely to lean Republican as they are to lean Democrat,” said Liz Hamel, vice president of survey research at the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health policy think tank.
Polling by the foundation revealed that Republicans are far more likely to believe false statements about COVID-19 and vaccines. All but 6% of Republicans believe that one or more false statements about COVID-19 and vaccines might be true, and 46% believed four or more statements might be true.
Only 14% of Democrats tend to believe four or more false statements about the disease.
According to Hamel, underestimating the severity of the disease appears to be a major reason Republicans aren’t getting vaccinated.
Check out NPR’s full findings, its methodology and coverage of heartbreaking loss to COVID-19 here.
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.