How You Vote May Affect Your Health

Take a look at the State where you live. Did your elected leaders safeguard your health during 2020, the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic? These maps show State colors based on voter choices in the 2004, 2008, 2012, and 2016 presidential elections. Take a look at the bright colors on January 1, 2020 before most of us knew about Covid-19. Now look at the muddy colors on December 31, 2020 showing over 19 million confirmed cases. What happened?

On January 31, the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a Global Health Emergency and by March 13, a National Emergency was declared in the USA.[1] The Covid-19 virus spread quickly. Different elected officials responded differently. Some chose their own political agendas over working together to protect the citizens who elected them. Some chose to ignore science and to pretend that Covid-19 was nothing more than the flu. Unfortunately, Covid-19 has no regard for political agendas or State lines. We have all been affected and our colors dimmed.

Some voters questioned the government’s authority to shut down our economy. Interestingly, because Covid-19 jumped across State lines it became a threat to commerce. It’s difficult to imagine a tiny virus stopping big tractor-trailers, cars, airplanes, and ships. But, I drove the empty Los Angeles freeways. Fortunately, the people who wrote the United States Constitution included the “commerce clause” which authorizes quarantines to prevent spreading diseases. Read the details in the Commerce Clause Legalizes Quarantine.

The Civics & Covid-19 project divided Covid-19 data by USA voter choice. For example, Californians voted for democrats so the State of California is blue and California appears at the top of the blue table. Texans voted for republicans so the State of Texas is red and Texas appears at the top of the red table. Look at the “Recovered” columns in each table. Red States report more people recovering than blue or purple States (56% red and 71% light red, as opposed to 14% blue, 48% light blue, and 34% purple).[3]

Has anyone really recovered from Covid-19?

Covid-19 recoveries are difficult to monitor because Covid-19 is a new virus. Scientists don’t know what long-term harm it may cause. According to the Mayo Clinic, more research is needed to assess the long-term effects of Covid-19, such as lasting heart damage, scarring of the lungs, brain damage that can cause strokes and seizures, and an increased likelihood of blood clots.[5]

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) does not require anyone to report how many people recovered. Not every health department reports this. For example, California reports zero. States reporting recoveries often make estimates. For example, in Texas, recovery estimates at the state level are based on computations using three percentages published in the “16–24 February 2020 Report of the WHO” [4]. WHO wrote that “approximately 80% of laboratory confirmed patients show mild to moderate symptoms.” [4] page 12 “Using available preliminary data, the median time from onset to clinical recovery for mild cases is approximately 2 weeks and is 3–6 weeks for patients with severe or critical disease.” [4] page 14

Using this report published back in February 2020, Texas came up with an algorithm: the number of confirmed cases minus the number of deaths plus any older cases being newly reported. They adjust this estimate assuming that about 20% of cases require hospitalization and adding the number of hospitalized patients after about 32 days and all other patients after about 14 days. Using this complex equation, Texas reported that 1,423,001 people had recovered from Covid-19 in 2020.

According to my interviews, some people in Texas believe that this number is a fact not an estimate. Perhaps this confusion prompted an article in the Dallas Morning Times questioning whether anyone has really recovered from Covid-19. In this article, Dr. Philip Huang, director of Dallas County’s health department said that Dallas County health officials don’t report recoveries because they don’t think they can reliably compile the data.[5]

When I interviewed a proud Trump supporter from Arizona, she told me that Covid-19 is no worse than the flu and 30 million people have recovered. I found one source verifying that 27.9 million have recovered world-wide.[8] Apparently, she was talking global statistics. This Newsweek article cites statistics curated by Johns Hopkins.[2] Texas used these same statistics to make estimates. I use these statistics for the Civics & Covid-19 analysis. You can investigate how your State reports recoveries by looking at the table. If you want dig deeper then review the data sources curated by Johns Hopkins.[2] Drill down to uncover the estimating techniques used by your State. Decide for yourself. Do you want to bet your life or the lives of your family and neighbors on these recovery estimates?

Are Covid-19 death statistics real?

Take a look at the death rate. The death rate was twice as high in blue States at 2%, as opposed to 1% in red and purple States. The CDC publishes guidelines for reporting Covid-19 deaths [6] so we can rely on these statistics as being consistent. “The deaths are real deaths” Dr. Anthony Fauci told an ABC interviewer.[7]

Looking forward to 2021

Personally, from 2009 to 2015, I traveled internationally leading FDA compliance projects in laboratories across the globe. I also ended up in emergency rooms in China, France, Spain, and Taiwan because I had a chronic lung disease that resulted in loss of sense of smell and permanent lung damage. My doctors do not know whether this disease was the “grandparent” of Covid-19 or not. But I am taking every precaution. You may not think losing your sense of smell is important. But my fiancee leaves the room when I eat sardines and blueberries. Smells fine to me. And my son had to tell me the basement reeked because a pair of rats moved in while I was traveling. Didn’t smell like sh*t to me! Thankfully there have been no gas leaks that I did not smell before striking a match.

I realize some people are bitterly disappointed by the official results of the 2020 presidential election. But no matter how you voted, President Biden has promised, “I’m going to be an American president. I don’t see red states and blue states. What I see is…United States”[9]. Relying on Covid-19 experts, he has announced national guidance requiring us to wear masks for 100 days and to be vaccinated with our doctor’s approval[10]. Trump supporters, republicans, democrats, and independents interviewed for this article agreed, Let’s give Biden a chance. The Civics & Covid-19 team will keep track and report trends in the 2021 data after Biden’s first 100 days.

At RoboThot.ai we like working with volunteers and mentoring interns. If you want to learn more about politics and data science, check out https://robothot.ai/ , click on the Covid-19 icon

References

[1] A Timeline of COVID-19 Developments in 2020 By American Journal of Managed Care, January 1, 2021. https://www.ajmc.com/view/a-timeline-of-covid19-developments-in-2020

[2] COVID-19 Data Repository by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University. 2021. https://github.com/CSSEGISandData/COVID-19

[3] Civics & Covid-19, 2020. https://robothot.ai/DataTutorial-Covid-19/2020/2020_total_state_color.php?D=2021-01-01

[4] Evidence for Limited Early Spread of COVID-19 Within the United States, January–February 2020 by CDC COVID-19 Response Team; Michelle A. Jorden, MD; Sarah L. Rudman, MD; Elsa Villarino, MD; Stacey Hoferka, MPH, MSIS; Megan T. Patel, MPH; Kelley Bemis, MPH; Cristal R. Simmons, MPH; Megan Jespersen, MPH; Jenna Iberg Johnson, MSPH; Elizabeth Mytty, MPH; Katherine D. Arends, MPH7; Justin J. Henderson, MPH; Robert W. Mathes, MPH; Charlene X. Weng, MS; Jeffrey Duchin, MD10; Jennifer Lenahan, MPH; Natasha Close, PhD; Trevor Bedford, PhD; Michael Boeckh, MD; Helen Y. Chu, MD; Janet A. Englund, MD; Michael Famulare, PhD; Deborah A. Nickerson, PhD; Mark J. Rieder, PhD; Jay Shendure, MD, PhD Lea M. Starita, PhD. Weekly/ June 5, 2020 / 69(22);680–684. On May 29, 2020, this report was posted online as an MMWR Early Release. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6922e1.htm?s_cid=mm6922e1_w

[5] “Why aren’t coronavirus recoveries always reported?” By Catherine Marfin, Dallas Morning News, October 2020. https://www.dallasnews.com/news/2020/10/08/how-does-anyone-really-know-when-someone-has-recovered-from-covid-19/

[6] CDC National Center for Health Statistics Vital Statistics Reporting Guidance, 2020 at

https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/reporting-guidance.htm

[7] “Fauci rebuts Trump on COVID’s toll”. Los Angeles Times. January 4, 2021

[8] Over 27 Million People Have Recovered From COVID-19 Globally, By Alexandra Schonfeld. October 21, 2020. https://www.newsweek.com/over-27-million-people-have-recovered-covid-19-globally-1541048

[9] October 2020 Presidential debate. https://www.cnn.com/politics/live-news/presidential-debate-coverage-fact-check-10-22-20/h_4fe3f38c115405ace4332c475fe9c0d8

[10] The Biden Plan For An Effective Re-Opening That Jumpstarts The Economy, 2020. https://joebiden.com/reopening/

Researcher, technologist, and paralegal student