This study explores social factors that are associated with the deaths caused by COVID-19 after the declaration of economic reopening on May 1st by President Trump. In particular, we seek to understand how county-level support for Donald Trump interacts with social distancing policies to impact COVID-19 death rates. Overall, controlling for several potential confounders, counties with higher levels of Trump support do not necessarily experience greater mortality rates due to COVID-19. The predicted weekly death counts per county tend to increase over time with the implementation of several key health policies. However, the difference in COVID-19 outcomes between counties with low and high levels of Trump support grew after several weeks of policy implementation as counties with higher levels of Trump support suffered relatively higher death rates. Counties with higher levels of Trump support exhibited lower percentages of mobile devices staying at home and higher percentages of people working part-time or full-time than otherwise comparable counties with lower levels of Trump support. The relative negative performance of Trump-supporting counties is robust after controlling for these measures of policy compliance. Counties with high percentages of elderly persons (aged 65 and above) tend to have greater death rates, as do more populous counties in general. This research indicates that policymakers would be wise to consider the risks inherent in controlling public health crises due to divisions in political ideology and confirms that vulnerable communities are at particularly high risk in public health crises.
Death by Political Party
The Relationship Between COVID-19 Deaths and Political Party Affiliation
April 7, 2021
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