As the Associated Press reports, the data available from Johns Hopkins, WorldOMeters, and other tracking sites make it clear that the highest level of COVID-19 is not expected by a casual observer. The worst locations are not in high density cities or in areas with high travel levels. They are small, rural counties. In fact, most of them are rural counties in rural states like Iowa, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
And 93% of the counties with the worst coronavirus infection rate voted for Donald Trump. In fact, they overwhelmingly voted for Trump. And the worse the infection, the worse the local situation, the more likely they were to vote for Trump.
All of this may seem extremely straightforward. However, this is because the lens the AP is presenting is looking at the data a little backwards. It's not that counties are voting for Trump because they have higher COVID-19 rates. The fact is that these districts have higher COVID-19 rates, especially because they support Trump.
In an article published in Nature shortly before the election, researchers from Yale and New York University approached the problem from a different angle. Using data from the 2016 election, they examined how people in Counties Trump relate to people in Counties Clinton. What they found was a large difference that explains the AP results.
Trump Counties practiced less social distancing. People in these counties also wore masks less often. And the more a county supported Trump, the worse those security measures were. People in Trump counties were more likely to ignore stay-home instructions. They tend to ignore mask mandates. They were less likely to practice safe social distancing. And even as the disease spread, this partisan difference only got worse.
And there was another factor:
"In addition, consumption of conservative media at the county level (Fox News) was associated with reduced physical distance."
COVID-19 is worse in Trump Counties … because they are Trump Counties. Listening to Trump, watching Fox News and believing the messages that the conservative media are putting on is not all disgusting. it is fatal
"… the observed party-political differences in distancing were associated with subsequently higher COVID-19 infection and death growth rates in pro-Trump countries."