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Politics Analysis

Right-wing politics costs lives, data shows

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Data shows that progressive governments, many with female leaders, have lower fatality and case rates of COVID-19 (Screenshot via YouTube)

The risk of death is substantially higher under Right-wing regimes, according to coronavirus facts and figures. Alan Austin examines the latest outcomes.

CITIZENS ARE at greater risk of dying from preventable disease in places with macho Right-wing governments than with Leftist or progressive administrations.

Anecdotal evidence for this abounds on the internet as instanced by a recent meme showing the national leaders of seven countries with particularly low coronavirus death rates — Germany, Taiwan, New Zealand, Iceland, Finland, Norway and Denmark. All women. They could have added Slovakia, Georgia and Bangladesh.

A more acerbic observation currently circulating is that several Right-wing alpha male leaders who initially refused to take the pandemic seriously have become infected. Sometimes referred to as “El Stupidos”, these include Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Guatemala’s President Alejandro Giammattei, President Juan Orlando Hernández in Honduras, President Alexander Lukashenko in Belarus and now President Donald Trump in the USA.

Compelling data

One country provides solid empirical evidence that political colour does save lives — or cost lives. The United States of America consists of 50 states and the District of Columbia which share the same economic and social system, a similar level of health care and, except for Hawaii and Alaska, the same geographic location.

Of these 51 states, 25 have Democratic governors and 26 have Republicans. The Republican states – to the Right on the political spectrum – have death rates more than double those with Democratic leaders.

The grim statistics

In the last two months, August and September, total deaths in the 51 states were a staggering 52,611. That is 160.3 deaths per million, one of the world’s worst outcomes. By way of comparison, Australia, with its disastrous second wave in August and September, copped just 26.9 deaths per million. Canada fared better with 9.6, Germany better still with 4.1 and New Zealand an impressive 0.6. So 160.3 in the USA is appalling.

But here’s the thing. Just four states account for more than 40% of those fatalities — Texas, Florida, Georgia and Arizona, all run by Republicans.

The Republican (red) states comprise 45.6% of the population, but experienced 64.6% of all COVID-19 deaths in August and September. The Democratic (blue) states comprise 54.4% of the population, but just 35.4% of deaths.

Expressed most starkly, the fatality rate for the Democratic states was 104.4 per million population over the two months. The rate for the Republican states was 227.1 per million. The difference is a factor of 2.2.

So the risk of dying of COVID-19 in Republican-run states is more than double – 2.2 times – that in Democratic states.

Notes on the methodology

The best information is from Worldometers, which updates data for all countries daily.

This analysis examines August and September in order to eliminate the very early months and thus show the outcomes of preventative measures currently in place.

This does not mean cumulative totals are irrelevant. They must certainly be monitored continually. But the worst-hit states in the early months were those with the busiest international airports which thus received the most infected travellers from China, Italy and elsewhere. These were New York, California, New Jersey and Illinois, all with Democratic administrations.

The worst-hit states

The highest August and September death tally was in Texas with 8,707, closely followed by Florida with 7,474. Deaths per million were 300 in Texas and 348 in Florida.

Mississippi with just under 3 million people was the stand-out failure relative to population. It experienced 810 deaths in August and 496 in September, a rate of 439 per million over the two months.

Deaths per million are shown in the green graph, above, for the 20 state worst affected. Of these, only four have Democratic governors.

No sign of gaining control

Several states have made no evident progress in curbing the spread of the infection or the rate of death. Arkansas reached a new all-time high case count of 1,111 on 4 September, then again on 11 September with 1,123. Another new high was reached last Thursday 1 October, at 1,124. The seven-day moving average death rate for Arkansas peaked at 21 on 29 September.

Other Republican states yet to see any substantial slowing of the rates of infection and deaths include Tennessee, Ohio, Missouri, Oklahoma, Indiana and Iowa.

The successes

There is one outstanding success – Vermont – which happens to have a Republican Governor, Phil Scott. Vermont had one death in June, one in July, another one in August and none at all in September. Total deaths since February are just 58.

Maine (Democrat) was second best with 18 deaths at 13.4 per million.

The next most successful states in August and September were:

  • New Hampshire (Republican): 24 deaths at 17.7 per million;
  • Connecticut (Democrat): 76 deaths at 21.3 per million;
  • New York (Democrat): 481 deaths at 24.7 per million; and
  • Colorado (Democrat): 213 deaths at 37.0 per million.

New York is particularly noteworthy as it was the worst-hit state by far in February and March when flights were allowed in without effective controls. New York copped 27,832 deaths per million in those two months at a staggering 837 per million. So the turnaround is impressive.

New York’s daily new cases graph, just above, compares starkly with that of Arkansas.

Policies make a difference

It may be surmised that other factors than official government policy could account for the difference in outcomes between the blue and red states. Perhaps citizens with strong libertarian convictions are reluctant to accept official instructions, are happy to take risks and also vote Republican. Perhaps populations with poor education and low awareness of scientific truths tend to vote Republican.

There is no credible evidence for these, however. The most plausible explanation is that policies which accord with the science have the intended effect. These include social distancing, hygiene, wearing masks in public places, testing, tracing and quarantining.

And did we mention Maine’s governor, Janet Mills, is a woman?

Alan Austin’s defamation matter is nearly over. You can read an update HERE and help out by contributing to the crowd-funding campaign HEREAlan Austin is an Independent Australia columnist and freelance journalist. You can follow him on Twitter @AlanAustin001

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