Do a compare and contrast of the red and green maps above. They are the most astonishing thing I saw today.
They are from a NY Times deep data dive into the Covid mortality stats post-vaccine availability, titled “Why Covid Death Rates Are Rising for Some Groups.”
The Times sure buried the lede.
The red map shows the Counties where the death rate increased since adult vaccine eligibility; the green map shows the opposite: those Counties where the death rate decreased.
Complex issues (like Mortality rates) typically have numerous variables and circumstances that discourage making broad conclusions. The world is complicated and reducing that complexity to one factor invites error. However, given the medical miracle that is the life-saving mRNA-based vaccines, I cannot look at these two maps without experiencing a deep sense of sadness for the avoidable loss of life that has taken place.
The Times reported the good news: “Death rates fell in most counties across the country, and in about one in five counties, the death rate fell by more than half.” But they also reported some horrific news: “But in about one in 10 counties, death rates have more than doubled.”
Many Americans took full advantage of vaccines — see the green map — embracing the latest science, behaving rationally, their instinct for self-preservation driving intelligent decision-making. Since the vaccine became available for all adults in April 2021, the death rate from Covid from about 25% (going from 14% to 11% of all deaths).
But as the red map shows, not all Americans are participating, with inevitable bad results: “The virus is now responsible for a higher share of deaths from all causes for younger Americans and white Americans than it was before all adults were eligible for vaccines.”
A few states stand out for their horrific post-vaccine availability results. Florida is a disaster; Kentucky and West Virginia have had large mortality spikes; Eastern Texas is a mess, while Western Texas has done much better. A huge swath from the center of the country to the Northwest has also done poorly: Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, Oregon, Washington. Like Texas, California is a tale of two regions, with Northern California faring far worse than the SoCal. Parts of Georgia are a mess, and the top half of Michigan is in crisis.
As I suggested, it is complicated: A combination of local culture, each specific governor, general health, and co-morbidities all play into this.
But so too are the effectiveness of vaccination + boost campaigns. “States with lower vaccination rates tend to have had higher Covid-19 death rates,” the Times noted drily.
Many of these were easily avoidable deaths. We should be able to do so much better than this.
Why Covid Death Rates Are Rising for Some Groups
By Denise Lu and Albert Sun
NYT, December 28, 2021