Mortality gap widened as politics influenced U.S. health years before pandemic hit

The disparity in mortality rates between Republican and Democratic counties was due largely to structural, policy and behavioral differences in the more conservative counties, co-authors Neil Jay Sehgal, PhD, MPH, of the University of Maryland, and Dylan Roby, PhD, [associate professor], of the University of California, Irvine Program in Public Health, said in a news release. “Voting behaviors at the county level are likely to represent the compliance or lack of compliance with mask mandates, vaccine uptake and use of other protective policies to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic,” Roby said. The findings were based on COVID-19 deaths through October 2021 and county voting data in the 2020 presidential election.