The American Journal of Preventive Medicine published a study on Tuesday that concluded that, in the second half of 2020, Republican-led states had higher Covid-19 case rates and death rates than Democrat-led states. States with Democratic Governors had higher case and death rates in the early months of the pandemic, but trends reversed during the summer. States with Republican Governors had higher case rates after June 3 and higher death rates after July 4.
Republican-led states were almost 2 times higher than those in Democrat-led states at their peak. The peak difference was June 28 for cases and August 5 for death rates, reported the COVID Tracking Project, which looked at statistics March 15 through December 15, 2020.
Several Democrat-led states are geographically located near seacoasts and airports that serve overseas markets, such as New York and California. While these states had a higher incidence of cases and deaths early in the pandemic, they also took strong measures to combat the environment and symptoms and were leaders in testing and wearing masks to curtail exposure.
“Governors’ party affiliation may have contributed to a range of policy decisions that, together, influenced the spread of the virus,” Sara Benjamin-Neelon, senior study author and professor at Johns Hopkins University, said in a news release. “These findings underscore the need for state policy actions that are guided by public health considerations rather than by partisan politics.”
Republican Governors were slower to adopt mask mandates, stay at home orders and social distancing in public. Republican Governors were also quicker to roll back these measures.
The new study does not want to imply that the political affiliation of the Governor was a cause of Covid-19 case or death rates, but may point to the policies that Governors followed that might have led to a difference in case rates or death rates.