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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Who Americans voted for in 2016 is a strong predictor of how they reacted to the deadliest pandemic in a century, according to a new study published in Nature.

Why it matters: The coronavirus doesn't care who someone voted for; it infects and kills whenever it is given the opportunity. By doing less social distancing, Republicans are giving it more opportunities, with predictable results.

The big picture: "Partisan differences in physical distancing were linked to higher growth rates of infections and fatalities in pro-Trump counties than necessary," the authors write.

Details: Using the geotracking data of about 15 million people per day, the study found that counties that voted for President Trump in 2016 saw a 24% decrease in movement and visits to non-essential services between March 9 and May 29 of this year. Counties that voted for Hillary Clinton saw a 38% drop.

  • This partisan gap remained after factoring in variables like counties' coronavirus case counts, population density, income, racial makeup and age makeup.
  • The study also found that less physical distancing was linked to higher coronavirus infection rates 17–23 days later, and an increase in fatality rates 25–31 days later.
  • "These results imply that Trump-leaning counties could have curbed their infection and fatality growth rates if they had distanced to the same degree as Clinton-leaning counties did," the authors conclude.

Between the lines: Although the authors thought they'd see the partisan gap decrease as the pandemic got worse over the spring, it actually increased with time.

  • And stay-at-home orders only exacerbated the gap, as they were more effective in Democratic counties.
  • The partisan response is likely at least partially attributable to Americans' polarized media consumption. The study found that counties that consumed more Fox News than Democratic-leaning outlets like MSNBC and CNN had less physical distancing.
  • "Republican-leaning media downplaying the virus at the start of the pandemic may have signaled to Republicans that they should not take the virus very seriously, in turn potentially in part causing the observed partisan differences," the authors write.

What we're watching: It seems very unlikely that this dynamic has changed since the end of May.

  • And regardless of who wins the presidency, it also seems unlikely that pandemic partisanship — or Fox News — is going away any time soon.
  • That cake is baked.

Go deeper

Jan 29, 2021 - Health

NYC set to restart indoor dining in February, weddings in March

Outdoor dining in New York City in January. Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday that if the current coronavirus positivity in New York City holds, indoor dining will reopen at 25% capacity on Feb. 14, one of the busiest dining days of the year.

Why it matters: The forced closure of indoor dining in December caused major backlash, as New York's struggling restaurant industry had already been hit hard by pandemic restrictions. Restaurants will still be required to close at 1o p.m.

Updated 23 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director warns "now is not the time" to lift COVID restrictions — Exclusive: Teenagers' mental health claims doubled last spring.
  2. Axios-Ipsos poll: Americans' hopes rise after a year of COVID
  3. Vaccine: J&J CEO "absolutely" confident in vaccine distribution goals — Vaccine hesitancy is shrinking.
  4. World: China and Russia vaccinate the world, for now.
  5. Energy: Global carbon emissions rebound to pre-COVID levels.
  6. Local: Florida gets more good vaccine newsMinnesota's hunger problem grows amid pandemic — Denver's fitness industry eyes a pandemic recovery.
Jan 29, 2021 - Health

J&J says its one-shot vaccine is 66% effective against moderate to severe COVID

Photo: Thiago Prudêncio/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Johnson & Johnson announced Friday that its single-shot coronavirus vaccine was 66% effective in protecting against moderate to severe COVID-19 disease in Phase 3 trials, which was comprised of nearly 44,000 participants across eight countries.

Between the lines: The vaccine was 72% effective in the U.S., but only 57% effective in South Africa, where a more contagious variant has been spreading. It prevented 85% of severe infections and 100% of hospitalizations and deaths, according to the company.

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