David Leonhardt provides an informative graph about the changing pattern of deaths between those counties where Trump won (which he labels ‘red covid’ counties) and those where Biden won (which he labels ‘blue covid countis)
In the early stages of the pandemic, the deaths in blue areas greatly exceeded those in the red areas. This was likely due to democratic voters living in largely urban areas where the increased density of population led to more rapid transmission. But the curves crossed once vaccinations were introduced since the blue regions were accepting of the vaccine and got it in greater numbers.
He discusses one particular place Ocean County, NJ.
Ocean County, in central New Jersey, is a mixture of beach towns like Barnegat Light and exurban towns like Toms River and Lakewood. Household income in the county exceeds the U.S. average.
Yet Ocean County is among the least vaccinated places in the Northeast. Only 53 percent of residents have received at least two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine (or one dose of Johnson & Johnson). Only 26 percent have received a booster shot.
The large number of unvaccinated residents in Ocean County has led to a horrific amount of Covid illness and death. Nearly one out of every 200 residents has died from the virus. [My italics-MS] That is worse than the toll in Mississippi, the U.S. state with the largest amount of Covid death per capita, and worse than in any country except for Peru.
What explains the vaccine skepticism in Ocean County? Politics, above all. The county is heavily Republican. Donald Trump won it by almost 30 percentage points in 2020, and many Republicans – including those who are older than 65 and vulnerable to severe Covid illness – are skeptical of the vaccines.
We should bear n mind that even in the blue parts of the country, there are many people with red area anti-vaccine sympathies and so the death gap between vaccinated and unvaccinated is likely larger than even that graph suggests.