Monday Morning Thoughts: This Graphic Tells the Story of COVID

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By David M. Greenwald
Executive Editor

If you drive outside of large population centers where people are by and large still masking up and drive into rural areas you not only see most people not wearing masks but many of them unvaccinated.

Some have argued that people in rural areas are relatively safe from COVID due to lower population densities, and while that was in fact true during the first wave of COVID back in March to May of 2020, that has not been true since.

As the graphic shows, since the summer of 2020, there has been a large gap between the death rate in rural areas versus metro areas.  That gap tends to shrink when the waves subside and growth huge as the another wave hits and as vaccination rates have increased since last winter, that gap has only increased.

Right now, cumulative deaths per capita are 28 percent higher in Rural vs. Urban America.  Rural deaths have been outpacing urban ones for more than a year.

A Washington Post analysis this weekend found that in areas that are tightly packed and COVID has the potential to spread more easily are actually the areas that are doing the best right now – the reason, “widespread vaccination.”

“Death rates are far below the national average in the most-vaccinated, often-urban areas,” the Post reports.

There is also a red-blue divide here.

The Washington Post’s Philip Bump reported last week that deaths in red counties are more than 50 percent higher than in blue counties.

But the Post analysis adds, “even that might undersell just how beneficial vaccination is in preventing the worst that the coronavirus has to offer — particularly when adopted on a grand scale in a given area.”

The Post analysis notes that many have focused on the notion of “herd immunity” which some believe to be 70 percent or above, but point out, “That concept has proven elusive, particularly as the delta variant has rendered the vaccines less effective at preventing the spread — while still extremely effective at preventing hospitalizations and deaths.”

Nevertheless, those metrics are perhaps more important than they initial appear.  What the Post found is that “in the densely populated areas in which we’ve approached overwhelming adoption of the vaccines, the death rates are often a fraction of the national average — a significantly greater gap than between the most-vaccinated and least-vaccinated states.”

This is probably going to become far more rather than less important as the Omicron variant hits.

First of all, the failure for us to get the population vaccinated is part of what led to Omicron variant in the first place.  It is a reminder that what happens halfway across the world can get to us in a matter of days.  And so if we don’t make sure that not only our nation, but the world is vaccinated, then we will remain at risk for variants that can increasingly elude current immunity.

The evidence emerging so far is that vaccination may not prevent people from getting infections altogether, it has reduced the severity of the illness.

Dane County, Wisconsin is a good example, home of Madison and University of Wisconsin.  It has one of the highest vaccination rates in the country at 86 percent of people 12 and older being fully vaccinated.

Dane County has had 0.4 daily deaths per million despite being in one of the hardest hit regions.

New York City has around 80 percent vaccination rate and has registered a per-capita death rate of about one-third the national average.  Remember it was New York that got blown up by the initial wave of COVID, since then they have been a basic model for how to handle the disease.

Some argued that the lessons learned in dense New York should not apply to the rest of the world – the data shows that they were wrong.

The Post analysis concludes: “while the most-vaccinated states are significantly, incontrovertibly and increasingly better off than the less-vaccinated states, the difference is even starker at the county and city level — and even as many of these highly vaccinated counties also happen to be the most densely populated.”

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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13 thoughts on “Monday Morning Thoughts: This Graphic Tells the Story of COVID”

  1. Keith Olson

    First of all, the failure for us to get the population vaccinated is part of what led to Omicron variant in the first place.  It is a reminder that what happens halfway across the world can get to us in a matter of days.

    I wonder how you feel about Biden enacting travel bans from eight different countries in Africa including South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini, Malawi and Mozambique because of the new variant OMICRON?

      1. Keith Olson

        Biden and our country didn’t know that at the time.  I happen to agree with Biden that restrictions were in order.

        Do you feel Biden’s travel ban from Africa was xenophobic?

        1. Ron Oertel

          The difference regarding how the media covered this (depending upon “who” is president) is striking, and provides perhaps the clearest evidence yet regarding mainstream media bias.

          I noticed it immediately.

          Though truth be told, some of that is also Trump’s fault regarding how he portrays himself and the comments he makes.

          I’d like to see Trump himself become a regular contributor to the Vanguard’s comment section. That would be amusing.

        2. Alan Miller

          I’d like to see Trump himself become a regular contributor to the Vanguard’s comment section. That would be amusing.

          Well, RO, you’re ruined the surprise . . .

          A few days after Johnny Carson died, David Letterman revealed on air that his friend Carson, after retiring as the Tonight Show host, regularly contributed jokes for Letterman’s monologue, just for the fun of it, with Letterman agreeing he would not reveal Carson as the source while Carson was alive.  In tribute, Letterman replayed several of the jokes Carson had written.

          Similarly, Alan Miller has regularly been contributing comments for the Davis Vanguard comment section on behalf of his good friend Donald Trump.  This was not supposed to be revealed while Trump was alive, but RO ruined it.

          Suddenly, things make a lot more sense, don’t they?

        3. Ron Oertel

          I think that “Team Trump” could have used Alan M., on their team.

          Trump cornered the market on “hoaxes”, though.

          I will say that I found some of what Trump said to be amusing.  In reference to an image of another politician that “Barack Palin” once posted in regard to Trump’s nickname for that politician.

          Some either mistakenly (or purposefully) misunderstood the point behind that nickname. An issue similar to “cultural misappropriation”, for lack of a better phrase.

  2. Alan Miller

     

    the failure for us to get the population vaccinated . . .

    The failure for us?

    It is a reminder that what happens halfway across the world can get to us in a matter of days.

    Maybe we should stop letting people fly around the world during a pandemic.

    And so if we don’t make sure that not only our nation, but the world is vaccinated,

    How exactly do you propose to ‘vaccinate our nation’ ?  Our nation is quickly running into the wall of the unwilling.  Do you propose we force-vaccinate the rest?

    And militarily force-vaccinated the world?

    Maybe start first by having Biden not only say he’s for releasing the formulas for the vaccines, but take Moderna a Pfizer militarily by force and make them do it.  That would reduce the rate of variants.

    then we will remain at risk for variants that can increasingly elude current immunity.

    See above.

    The evidence emerging so far is that vaccination may not prevent people from getting infections altogether, it has reduced the severity of the illness.

    Yeah I figured that out in July when a bunch of vaccinated people I knew got Covid-19.  The government kinda forgot to tell us how the vaccine worked.  Maybe if they stopped lying ‘for our own good’, we’d trust them more.

    BTW, I kept wondering where people were getting all this anti-mask, anti-vaccine, pro-ivermectin info, as it wasn’t coming across my radar.  Then someone sent me one video ‘about the Omicron variant’.  All these similarly-themed videos started being pumped into my YouTube channel.  So YouTube and Facebook take it upon themselves to quash free-speech by supposedly banning Covid-19 ‘disinformation’, and then pump that same ‘disinformation’ (that pumps the disinformation in toned-down wording so it meets YouTube guidelines) into our ‘suggested video’ feed, so we’ll watch more YouTube ads.  I looked into this and understand Facebook does something similar (though I don’t do Facebook because it’s evil).

  3. Bill Marshall

    What is ignored is the first wave… 2/3 waves is statistically inconclusive, but might be ‘suggestive’ then very open to interpretation as one is inclined to…

    And the graphs are of deaths… another variable is non-metro areas having limited ICU’s, other medical intervention… that alone could explain the difference, even more than those posited by the author…

    There are many variables… beware of those who focus on a few, then use a graph as was done here.

    Infection rates would be a better indicator, but there again, the testing varies depending on many variables… simplistic theories and conclusions are just that… simplistic…

    And there is always inherent and unconscious bias in positing theories, and drawing conclusions based on the data set chosen.

  4. Alan Miller

     

    There is also a red-blue divide here.

    Has anyone tried swinging a dead cat at the Davis Farmer’s Market and seeing how many hours it would take you to even hit a Republican?

    Lead up to . . . has anyone done a study to seen the percentage of Anti-Vaxxers in heavily blue towns that are actually far-left vs. far-right?

    No use worrying about those pesky right-wing AVXXers in a town that flies on only a single wing.

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