2) There are long standing controversies around the lockdown and the reopening, often twinned with arguments about risk and economic costs.
6) In the piece, we talk about population density as one explanation of this. The infection rate is highly correlated with county-level density. And so is political identity, a subject we wrote about last year https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/29/upshot/suburbs-demographics-red-blue.html
4) In aggregate, 45 percent of Americans live in counties that supported President Trump in 2016 but have seen 27 pct of reported infections and 21 percent of deaths.
3) Some of this is definitely ideological, and tied to how people perceive the role of government. But in our story, we also explore the idea that people’s perceptions are shaped by first-hand experience.
7) However, we also note that pop density does not align perfectly with the pandemic. There are lots of outbreaks in rural places, and some research about low correlation between density and the virus within cities and in other nations.
10) In aggregate, though a) these places are sparsely populated; b) infection growth in blue counties less, but is far greater than 0 so c) the gap in cumulative devastation is slowly closing but still huge.
13) But if seeing is believing, then the disparity in how the virus is playing out could certainly contribute to how people assess the situation and how to respond.
8) Another way of thinking about it: Even in rural places, there are temporary moments of high density, when people gather at work, social settings, church etc.
9) But about those rural outbreaks. Yes, as you might have seen, the cumulative infection rate is growing faster in red counties than blue counties. As of Friday, we counted more than 240 red counties with elevated rates.
11) Moreover, in at least some of these places, the virus is disproportionately impacting non-whites - in Iowa, ⅓ of infections are attributed to Latinos, and in general, non-whites are far more likely to vote blue than red.
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