I have been convinced from the start of the pandemic that Trumpism is a risk factor for spreading the virus. Today the Washington Post picked up this position and ran with it (see https://www.washingtonpost.com/…/coronavirus-has-come-trum…/). It is an obvious conclusion once you start looking at the data, but I’ve been sharing these associations and data for a couple of months now.
It is now official that the average cases per million in the top 25% of most heavily Trump supporting states has exceeded the rate in the second 25%. This is remarkable because the most Trump supporting states have a lower average population density that should be an advantage in reducing spread of covid-19.
The new daily cases curves show that the rate of increase in the top half of Trump supporting states is rapid, and approaching that in the early stages in our more urban and Democratic-tending states. When you sort out the states this way, the effects of interventions are clear, both in the stay at home orders (on the graph) and, more recently in compliance with recommendations to wear face coverings. We’ve got the President claiming that face coverings are being used just as a symbol of disapproval of him (what?) so any assumption about the association between not wearing a mask and support for the President is solid. And also a high correlation with selfishness, lack of scientific education, lack of reading, lack of comprehension, and generalized failure to pay attention to reality as it is.
Thankfully, the California Governor has now made mask wearing in public compulsory. As it should be. It is the only way we can carry on with the necessary basics of society without worsening the situation, and the evidence suggests that with high compliance for a few weeks we could start seeing consistent reductions in new daily cases, something California as a whole has not achieved yet. First we have to deal with the political resistance to masks. It really is tiring and could have been fixed at the start if we had a president capable of rational leadership.
Science is, and will continue to be, messy, with steps forward and steps back. A paper in PNAS that I cited in one of my public social media posts the other day has come under scrutiny, both for questions about the rigor of the content and for the pathway by which it was published. It went through a pathway this journal allows that sidesteps the usual peer review process by being “communicated” by a member of the National Academy of Sciences. On this path, the member secures their own peer reviews (picking the reviewers) and submits them with the paper. This leads to some problems because members do not always use good judgment in recruiting reviewers who will be suitably critical. So a paper that conclusively pointed to mask use as the means to control the pandemic is under fire. A preponderance of evidence still shows the importance of masks; but that paper will have an asterisk until further notice. But again, this is the self-correcting process of science; if garbage gets published on an important topic, someone is going to dispute it and correct the record.
Other things happen with the raw data that get corrected. It turns out the State of Washington was combining data on active and past infection rates, similar to what had happened previously with Georgia. They claim an honest mistake based on dealing with the number of tests (https://www.seattletimes.com/…/washington-states-coronavir…/) and the result is that infection rates looked lower than they would have otherwise. Thankfully, professionals correct these mistakes and we move on.
Arizona needs a professional to take the helm and formulate a better response to the situation than whatever is going on now. Like social distancing and mask wearing. All you good people in Arizona, take care and vote for someone competent for governor next time around. It isn’t like he wasn’t warned (https://www.azcentral.com/…/dumb-idea-lift-covi…/3017467001/).