Politics Is Sickening

[ Posted Wednesday, November 11th, 2020 – 17:47 UTC ]

Let me be clear from the start -- that headline is not meant to be metaphorical in any way. And I'm not even being figurative or quasi-metaphorical, in the "I get sick to my stomach when I think about politics" sort of way. Also, this title does not refer to the presidential election or what's going on in Washington at all. Sadly enough, that headline is meant to be taken completely literally. Because politics is sickening people across the country, period. On average, the chances of you catching COVID-19 are now clearly greater if you live in a red state than if you live in a blue state.

As the coronavirus pandemic has swept the country, a new phrase entered the lexicon of America: "doom scrolling." It was quickly smushed together into one word, and is now spelled: "doomscrolling." This is the propensity to continue reading lots of news, even when it is really bad. My own version of doomscrolling has been to check in with the Worldometers pandemic-tracking site on at least a daily basis. The data are nicely arranged in a table which tracks every U.S. state and possession individually. There are lots of columns showing various ways of measuring the pandemic, all of which can be clicked on to sort the whole list by that criteria.

The best way to look at data between disparate states, of course, is on a per capita basis. Clicking on the category: "Total Cases Per Million Population" (actually: "Tot Cases/1M pop") sorts the states by how well they are doing relative to each other. And when you sort this list using this per-capita basis, the difference between the top of the list and the bottom is stark, when seen through the lens of politics.

Only four out of the top 15 states with the highest infections rate per capita are run by Democratic governors. Of those, at least one is not really a blue state, and another is at least purple. Wisconsin is the worst state with a Democratic governor, and it comes in at 4th on the list with 47,891 cases per million people (which I'm going to call "cpm" so I don't have to type it every time). Then you have to go down to 11th place for the next Democratic-run state, Illinois, at 41,339 cpm. But while the 13th on the list (40,802 cpm) has a Democratic governor, Louisiana is not generally seen as being very blue. At the very bottom, in 15th place, is Montana (39,363 cpm), also a rather purple state in many ways.

When you reverse the list (and only count states, not possessions or any other non-state entry), you get only five out of the top 15 best states with Republican governors -- and three of those have to be seen as blue states that just occasionally elect Republican governors. Case in point: number one on the list, with only 4,063 cpm, is Vermont. The home of Bernie Sanders. But also a state which currently has a Republican governor. Close behind at number three is New Hampshire (9,501 cpm), a slightly redder state that Vermont, but not by much. The next two are pretty indisputably red states: West Virginia in 6th place (16,852 cpm), and Ohio in 9th place (22,872 cpm). But the last one, in 15th place, is Massachusetts (25,373). This really means that out of the top 15 states, only two can truly be considered red states.

Of course, measuring a state's politics by just which party holds the governor's office doesn't really tell the full tale. There have been stellar Republican governors who have charted their own course during the pandemic -- Maryland's Larry Hogan being the first that springs to mind (Maryland is the 16th-best on the list, just outside the range I counted). And there have been Democrats who have fallen down on the job as well. Add in the fact that state legislatures don't always line up politically with who holds the governor's office, and determining which party truly leads the state becomes more complex.

Even so, the difference is pretty stark between the top 30 percent of states and the bottom 30 percent. Here are the total lists of states as they stand right now (data constantly flows into this site, so the states do move around in the lists, I should mention):

Hardest-hit states, in order: North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Mississippi, Utah, Tennessee, Idaho, Alabama, Illinois, Arkansas, Louisiana, Florida, Montana.

Least-hardest-hit states, in order: Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, Hawai'i, Oregon, Washington, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, Connecticut, Colorado, California, Michigan, Massachusetts.

It's pretty easy to see my overall point, just by reading those lists and considering which states are seen as red and which are seen as blue. Vermont, the best state, only has 4,063 cpm, while North Dakota, the worst state, has a whopping 73,934 cpm. Both are sparsely-populated, which is why "cases per million" is necessary to see this astounding difference. You are over 18 times more likely to catch the virus if you live in North Dakota than if you live in Vermont. That is not just some sort of statistical error. In general, people in the states on the top of the list are only half as likely to get sick as people in those at the bottom. And that's just at the very least, as Vermont and North Dakota plainly show.

Politics is sickening people, in other words, at a dramatic rate. This is almost solely due to President Donald Trump's campaign to convince people that the whole thing was nothing to worry about and that wearing masks was some sort of sissified Democratic plot to make a political statement against Trump. Perhaps with him gone from the White House, the numbers in the red states might begin to improve. Utah's Republican governor finally gave in and issued his first mandatory masking order this week. Utah is currently the 7th-worst state in the nation, per capita. We'll have to see if it starts moving in the other direction after a few weeks of masks being mandatory in public.

This entire politicization of a medical emergency was nothing short of stupid and dangerous. That much, at least, is already evident. Joe Biden is right to plead with people to put aside the politics and put on a mask. At this point, it's doubtful that he'll be all that successful, because Trump has already politicized the issue so deeply and for so long. But perhaps there's hope.

Trump predicted the coronavirus pandemic would all just "go away" at some point, but that was never going to happen. He also complained that all the attention in the final weeks of the presidential campaign that the pandemic got from the media would also all just go away on the day after the election. But since the election was held, the numbers have spiked so alarmingly that they are impossible to ignore. We're regularly seeing over 130,000 cases a day. We could see 200,000 cases a day within a week or so, if the slope of this deadly curve continues.

What is absolutely astounding is that the federal government's answer to this third wave -- which is already over twice as bad as the second wave and multiple times that of the first wave -- is to do absolutely nothing. Trump hasn't personally attended a coronavirus task force meeting in months. It's doubtful anything meaningful even happens at these meetings any more, since Trump has only been listening to one source for a while -- a doctor who has no experience with pandemics but who conveniently sees eye-to-eye politically with Trump about what to do about it all (which is mostly "nothing"). All while Rome burns outside the door. Or even inside the door -- White House personnel continue to test positive for the virus, even in what should be the most-protected building in America.

There has been no response or even acknowledgement of the seriousness of the situation from President Trump or from the White House. Over 130,00 Americans are coming down with the virus each and every day now, and all we get is silence. Joe Biden has already begun to fill this void, but until he is sworn in there's not much he can tangibly do. At least he's taking it seriously, though.

This politicization of a medical emergency was always stupid and totally unnecessary. The longer it continues, the more people are going to get sick as a direct result. Republican leaders at the state level everywhere need to come out of their Trumpian fog and realize their states are in a crisis which has nothing to do with politics and never did. Their responses should also be non-political.

Up until now, though, they have been political. And looking at that table of how the states are doing relative to each other shows how dramatic an effect this has had on the public. What state you live in should not have anything to do with the chances that you will catch a pandemic or not, but sadly, it currently does. Politics is sickening too many people, and that really needs to end.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


31 Comments on “Politics Is Sickening”

  1. [1] 
    James T Canuck wrote:

    A 'Grammarly tick'?

    Agreed, again.

    One would think this would have been a splendid opportunity to hone in on the central issue of American healthcare chaos.

    Monetizing healthcare is obnoxious.

    You get what you pay for isn't the last thing on your mind when you can't afford to live.


  2. [2] 
    BashiBazouk wrote:

    I posted it before but I have been using:
    As it gives data for current trends (daily cases per 100,000 people.) Also shows data per country, state, county and congressional district.

  3. [3] 
    James T Canuck wrote:

    I think the damage may be done.

    Trump has been blowing smoke over there and over here his ultimate goal, herd immunity, was casually grazing on the weakly paid.



  4. [4] 
    John M from Ct. wrote:

    An excellent piece - and very sad. As you say, little can or will be done to save lives and reduce crippling illness until the new administration takes office in 2 1/2 months. Hundreds of thousands of additional people will take sick in that time, mostly in so-called red states with ideological resistance to basic public health precautions.

    We might add that, even in the new year, the likelihood of a full-scale federal relief bill covering unemployment, debt, rent, state obligations, and liability protection, is very low or even lower, depending on the Senate's ultimate make-up after the Georgia elections.

  5. [5] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Perhaps with him gone from the White House, the numbers in the red states might begin to improve. Utah's Republican governor finally gave in and issued his first mandatory masking order this week. Utah is currently the 7th-worst state in the nation, per capita. We'll have to see if it starts moving in the other direction after a few weeks of masks being mandatory in public.

    Unfortunately, the absence of Trump and the presence of Biden, along with mandatory mask orders, will not be enough to bring the virus under control in any American state, territory or island.

    From what I have been able to learn about this virus and how it spreads, I think the only option left for the US right now are lockdowns. That is the only way to get control over this virus and bring the numbers down to levels that are manageable and then, as the lockdowns are released, the implementation of very basic public health measures - widespread and rapid turnaround testing, case identification and isolation, tracing all contacts and quarantining all contacts, cluster investigation - in order to sustain the low levels of transmission and allow lives and livelihoods to restart while we wait for the mass distribution of vaccines.

    Without doing all of this, it will be virtually impossible to break the chains of transmission and I shudder to think what will happen over the course of the next two and a half months.

  6. [6] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    We might add that, even in the new year, the likelihood of a full-scale federal relief bill covering unemployment, debt, rent, state obligations, and liability protection, is very low or even lower, depending on the Senate's ultimate make-up after the Georgia elections.

    Hopefully, Biden and Harris and all of their surrogates in Georgia will soon be out in force driving that very point home - if Democrats win both seats, the Republican obstructionism will end and people will receive the support they need to see them through to the end of the pandemic restrictions to their lives and livelihoods.

  7. [7] 
    John M from Ct. wrote:

    Elizabeth [6]

    I wish I believed that will happen. As I read the Georgia results, both races were led by Republican voters who were diluted or split by third or marginal party candidates. In the runoffs I can only imagine the Republicans will win in a one-on-one with a single Democrat. I'd guess that the more outside money pours in, telling Georgia voters it's their job to save the national Democratic Party rather than to vote their own state-focused preferences, the more they will vote to spite the outside money.

  8. [8] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Yeah, I thought of that unintended consequence of increasing the R vote ... but, I wasn't talking about an influx of money other than directly into the hands of the people of Georgia!

    I was thinking more about some sort of public education campaign that would focus on how hard it would be to get Republican senators on board with the notion of helping the citizens of Georgia to cope with having lost jobs and income and that a Democrtic senate would ensure that all Georgians will get the financial assistance they need to see them through the worst of the epidemic and that Democrats will act ASAP with the necessary health measures to shut the virus down so people can get back to their lives and livelihoods.

    If this sort of singular message doesn't resonate with the people who will be voting for Georgia's senators then, I guess you are all up the proverbial creek without a paddle ... :(

  9. [9] 
    MyVoice wrote:

    Toolkit for BIPOC & Civic Engagement GOTV for GA Runoff Elections - Jan 2021

    It's a long shot, but get out your wallet, if you can, and/or volunteer so we can have a run at success. I have.

  10. [10] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Does that GOTV effort involve a public education campaign Re. stimulus and shutting down the virus vis-a-vis what Democrats will do if they make up half of the senate whereas what R's will block if they win even just one of these Georgia senate seats?

  11. [11] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    By the way, did anyone check out Classis Albums Live and their live performance at the Empire Theatre this evening as they peformed U2's The Joshua Tree, cut for cut, note for note?

    It was a fantastic concert!

    Tickets, physically distanced at the theatre in Belleville (limited to 50 people), cost about 50 bucks and you donate the same, or not, if you're watching the live stream at home on your big screen TV.

    Next Wednesday, it will be Led Zeppelin's Houses of the Holy and the following week, Let It Be!!!!!!

  12. [12] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    You can still watch this live streamed concert and donate for a while yet ...

  13. [13] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    cover and tribute bands are sort-of against my religion. i'm not sure where exactly in the talmud it says that they're not kosher, but there's a definite whiff of pork.

  14. [14] 
    MyVoice wrote:

    [10] Elizabeth Miller

    It's not the least bit prescriptive; it's a list of organizations and resources that serve as a starting point for getting involved in registering Georgia voters up through December 7th and getting out the vote. Presumably, one would try to connect with the group or groups that best represent his/her/their concerns, priorities, and opinions.

  15. [15] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    LizM -

    I've been to the place photographed on both the inside and the outside of the album Houses Of The Holy. Outside: naked kids (there are really only two of them, a brother and a sister, merged together photographically) on The Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland. A couple miles away, there is a ruined castle perched on a seaside cliff, which is where they shot both the inside and the back of the album's cover. Totally cool!



  16. [16] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Wow, Chris, that is very cool.

    I just read this,

    You'll have to tune in next week! These musicians are quite phenomenal - you really get the vibe of the classic albums and artists.

    Not sure why more theatres in your neck of the woods or mine aren't doing what the Empire Theatre in Bellville is doing through this pandemic when we are all craving live music ...

  17. [17] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Geography is not the state that matters concerning the politicization of the pandemic.

    It's the state of denial that matters.

    And the state of denial from both "sides" of the show that the other side is the one politicizing the pandemic is correct about the other side and incorrect about their own side not politicizing the pandemic.

    Blowing smoke up peoples asses is not a cure for the pandemic or any of the other problems that the CMPs use to manipulate people into buying into the show.

    Wake up. Wise up. Rise up.

    Get Real.

    Otherwise we will have to start referring to the red states and blue states as the dead states and through states.

    And the reason that it matters which of those states you live in is the country where these states are located.

    And until citizens demand that the politicians stop taking big money to finance their parties and candidates we will continue to get politicians that politicize every issue instead of working to solve the issues because if the issue is solved it can no longer be exploited to manipulate citizens to keep voting against their interests.

  18. [18] 
    nypoet22 wrote:


    that is completely irrelevant to the main post, which is clearly about people getting sick due to the lack of pie.


  19. [19] 
    John M wrote:

    [7] John M from Ct. wrote:

    "I wish I believed that will happen. As I read the Georgia results, both races were led by Republican voters who were diluted or split by third or marginal party candidates. In the runoffs I can only imagine the Republicans will win in a one-on-one with a single Democrat."

    Perhaps. Though it was less true in the Purdue / Ossoff race, which was more one on one. Purdue got 49.7 percent to Osoff's 48 percent. The Libertarian Hazel got 2.3 percent, which is probably what kept Purdue under 50. Ossoff has a decent chance in my opinion.

    The other race was quite different. Democrat Warnock got 32.9 percent of the vote, and Loeffler 25.9 percent of the Republican vote. Then there were a total of 18 !! others on the ballot, who all split the remaining vote. Including multiple other Republicans, Democrats, Independents and Green Party members. If you added just all the other Democrats votes in the race to Warnock, that would give him another 15.5 percent for a total of 48.4 percent. Again, very similar to Ossoff. So, will Georgians turn out out to elect their first black Senator, like they did for Obama, and tried to do for Stacey Abrams as governor?

    It really is going to depend on voter turn out. Will Republicans turn out to vote without Trump on the ballot? Will Democrats keep up their sky high turn out in a non presidential election? Will it be more like the 2018 mid terms?

  20. [20] 
    John M wrote:

    As for coronavirus, another grim concern to keep in mind is that hospitalizations and deaths ALWAYS lag behind new positive cases. Are Thanksgiving celebrations going to be super spreader events??? Will deaths follow just in time for Christmas with mobile morgues like we are now seeing in El Paso? I really pray for everyone, wear your damn masks always!!!

  21. [21] 
    James T Canuck wrote:

    Apparently, Trump has reached the 'Dejected and waffling' stages of grief...I think an intervention is called for.

    ...40 seconds in, think to yourself, 'you lost, get over it'



  22. [22] 
    TheStig wrote:


    World O Meter has added a pop up menu on their site as of 11/11:

    We and our (partners)

    store and/or access information on a device, such as cookies and process personal data, such as unique identifiers and standard information sent by a device for personalised ads and content, ad and content measurement, and audience insights, as well as to develop and improve products.

    With your permission we and our partners may use precise geolocation data and identification through device scanning. You may click to consent to our and our partners’ processing as described above. Alternatively you may click to refuse to consent or access more detailed information and change your preferences before consenting. Please note that some processing of your personal data may not require your consent, but you have a right to object to such processing. Your preferences will apply to this website only. You can change your preferences at any time by returning to this site or visit our privacy policy."

    Bottom line: You have the right to object to our spying on you.

  23. [23] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    Interesting. Here in red KY, we have a blue governor and we didn't make either of those lists. The same is true for blue Maryland and their red governor.

  24. [24] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    Here's a COVID anecdote.

    I have a friend who lives in a town outside of NYC. He's a teacher and he contracted the virus back in March. He's in his early 50s and he did get sick, but fell just short of needing to be hospitalized.

    Now he donates plasma regularly and he still has antibodies in November, so that seems like a good thing since there's uncertainty about their durability. On the other hand, he still has bouts of fatigue and his senses of taste and smell have still not returned to normal.

  25. [25] 
    andygaus wrote:

    What Biden won't be able to do is to make time go backward. When a disease is spreading in an exponential fashion, there is no substitute for early intervention. What Trump didn't do in February cannot be done by any person later. And if we're entering another period of exponential spread with scant countermeasures, Biden also won't be able to undo that. All he can do is to try to have Trump tried in the International Court at the Hague for genocidal negligence.

  26. [26] 
    James T Canuck wrote:

    Here's the drag...

    This is fucked, why you let this shit permeate into small minds is staggering...

    Only in America.


  27. [27] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    Of course, Biden can't turn back the clock.

    But, he most definitely can shut down this virus.

    Ask me how ... :)

  28. [28] 
    Kick wrote:

    James T Canuck


    Trump is definitely a giant *ussy that somebody needs to grab. He's not the least little bit a strong leader because he's too busy prattling on and on about how somebody or something "done him wrong" and constantly spewing his hatred via tweet and demanding fealty, but that loyalty only goes one way. He has turned the GOP into a bunch of Flying Monkeys living in perpetual fear of the con behind the curtain. #Pathetic

  29. [29] 
    Bleyd wrote:

    nypoet22 [18]

    They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Think that would work with apple pies?

  30. [30] 
    nypoet22 wrote:


  31. [31] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


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