Republican States Had Highest COVID Rates And Death Tolls, Study Finds

by : Emily Brown on : 12 Mar 2021 18:43
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A new study examining coronavirus cases between March and December last year has revealed that American states with Republican governors had the highest incidence and death rates.

While the highest incidence and death rates were initially found in states with Democratic governors, researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Medical University of South Carolina found that states led by Republicans started to surpass those rates from June onwards.


The study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, examined ‘incidence, death, testing, and test positivity rates’ of coronavirus from March 15 through to December 15, 2020, by which point there were 16 million confirmed cases and 300,000 deaths in the US.

Coronavirus testingPA Images

Researchers focused on per-capita infection and death rates in the 26 Republican-led states and 24 Democratic-led states and Washington DC, and made statistical adjustments for factors such as population density.

The authors write: ‘From March to early June, Republican-led states had lower Covid-19 incidence rates compared with Democratic-led states. On June 3, the association reversed, and Republican-led states had higher incidence. For death rates, Republican-led states had lower rates early in the pandemic, but higher rates from July 4 through mid-December.’


When examining the findings, the researchers note the early trends may be due to Democrats being in charge of states that ‘are home to initial ports of entry for the virus in early 2020’. The later shift in rates, then, may be down to Republican leaders being less stringent about safeguards.

Trump Tells Americans 'Don't Be Afraid' Of Coronavirus After Removing Mask At White HousePA Images

The study explains: ‘The subsequent reversal in trends, particularly with respect to testing, may reflect policy differences that could have facilitated the spread of the virus.’

Policy differences between Republican and Democratic leaders appear to have played a big part in the emerging trends, with the study noting that ‘the response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic became increasingly politicized in the U.S. and political affiliation of state leaders may contribute to policies affecting the spread of the disease.’


The authors cited another study that found ‘Republican governors were slower to adopt both stay-at-home orders and mandates to wear face masks,’ as well as other studies showing ‘that Democratic governors were more likely to issue stay-at-home orders with longer durations.’

They added: ‘Moreover, decisions by Republican governors in spring 2020 to retract policies, such as the lifting of stay-at-home orders on April 28 in Georgia, may have contributed to increased cases and deaths.’

Dr. Sara Benjamin-Neelon, of the Bloomberg School’s Department of Health, Behavior and Society, noted that the governors’ political parties may have ‘contributed to a range of policy decisions that, together, influenced the spread of the virus,’ and pointed out that the study emphasises ‘the need for state policy actions that are guided by public health considerations rather than by partisan politics,’ NBC News reports.


States with Democratic governors have some of the highest overall death tolls, as opposed to per capita rates, with California and New York having recorded the most deaths. The states with the third and fourth highest total deaths both have Republican governors, namely Greg Abbott in Texas and Ron DeSantis in Florida.

If you’ve been affected by coronavirus and want up to date advice, visit the Gov.uk help page here. If you need medical help call NHS 111 or visit online.

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: Health, America, Coronavirus, COVID-19, Death Toll, Democrat, Now, republican, US


American Journal of Preventative Medicine and 1 other
  1. American Journal of Preventative Medicine

    Associations Between Governor Political Affiliation and COVID-19 Cases, Deaths, and Testing in the U.S.

  2. NBC News

    States with Republican governors had highest Covid incidence and death rates, study finds