Drilling Deeper into Whatcom County: Covid-19 & Political Orientation

This article is co-authored with Matt Cropper, Zoran Stojakovic, and Eric Tyberg. We thank Mike Mohrman and Tom Kimpel for technical assistance.

Swanson and Tyberg reported earlier that nationwide, counties carried by Trump in 2016 took the lead in Covid-19 cases and deaths by the end of October and that Trump’s super spreader campaign rallies along with the lack of mask wearing and social distancing by his followers may have spread more sickness and deaths among republicans than among democrats, especially in the immediate run-up to the election. They followed this up by looking at counties in Washington and found similar results. In this article we examine Whatcom County in more depth by looking at Covid-19 infection rates among its seven school districts, Bellingham, Blaine, Ferndale, Lynden, Meridian, Mount Baker, and Nooksack Valley.

In getting to our results, the 2020 presidential votes by election district were aggregated into the county’s seven school districts for which we already had population totals and Covid-19 case count totals over the last two weeks, the latter obtained from the Whatcom County Unified Command.

Four of the school districts were carried by Biden-Harris: Bellingham; Blaine; Ferndale; and Mount Baker. The remaining three, Lynden, Meridian, and Nooksack Valley, were carried by Trump-Pence. When we aggregated the four districts carried by Biden-Harris, we found a total population of 135,594 and 1,294 Covid-19 cases reported over the last two weeks. These numbers lead to an infection rate of 954.3 per 100,000 people. For the three districts carried by Trump-Pence, we found a total population of 32,092 and 445 Covid-19 cases over the past two weeks. These numbers lead to an infection rate of 1,386.6 per 100,000 people.

The infection rate in the three school districts carried by Trump-Pence is about 1.4 times higher than the infection rate found in the four school districts carried by Biden-Harris. These results are consistent with earlier findings when the counties in the US as a whole were examined and when the 39 counties in Washington were examined. For the US as a whole the 2,656 counties carried by Trump in 2016 exhibited infection rates approximately two times higher than the 487 counties carried by Clinton. In Washington, the 27 counties carried by Trump in 2016 posted an infection rate 1.4 times higher that found in the 12 counties carried by Clinton. Note that the 27 counties by Trump in 2016 were also carried by Trump in 2020 while the 12 counties carried by Clinton in 2016 were carried by Biden-Harris in 2020.

It appears that the effects of treating the Covid-19 pandemic as a hoax, along with the lack of mask wearing and social distancing by Trump’s followers can be seen even down to sub-county levels, in this case the school districts in Whatcom County. One wonders what we would see if we could drill down even deeper, to the individual level. If the demographics for individual Covid-19 cases included political orientation, the evidence to-date suggests that there would be higher rates among those who voted for Trump-Pence.

About David A. Swanson

Posting Citizen Journalist • Member since Mar 31, 2020

David A. Swanson is Edward A. Dickson Emeritus Professor of Sociology, University of California Riverside. He served as a member of the U. S. Census Bureau’s Scientific Advisory Committee [...]

Comments by Readers

Mike Sennett

Nov 19, 2020

When Mr. Swanson posted his article, “The Last Stand”, on October 17, the COVID death toll was at 216,025 as of October 15. As of November 18, the slaughter of Americans from the Trump virus has breached the quarter million mark, and the flood of dead bodies is approaching 2,000 per day.

Waiting for someone to show up here and sanitize these numbers by breaking down the survival rates per age group, with exclamation points! 

Meanwhile….the Trump Golf Count site reports the Duffer in Chief has visited his golf courses 287 times with 143 confirmed outings on the links as of November 15.

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David A. Swanson

Nov 19, 2020

Hi Mike,

These three studies should get you started.

Estimated years of life lost due to covid-19

https://healthcostinstitute.org/hcci-research/the-impact-of-covid-19-on-years-of-life-lost

Excess deaths due to Covid-19

https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/covid19/excess_deaths.htm

Variation in race.ethnicity in Covid-19 mortality by age in the US

https://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1003402

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