I was moved to write this after reading ralphdog’s excellent “An Update from the Rural Covid Frontlines.” We live in a rural-designated Washington county: San Juan, pop. 18,498. At this point in time, we have the highest rates of vaccination in the state: fully vaccinated 74.9%. Population over 65 fully vaccinated: 83.6%. ZERO deaths. 77% LESS cases than Washington at large.
Contrast this with a lesser populated (14,000) county, Pend Oreille. 37.3% of it’s population is fully vaccinated. Population over 65 fully vaccinated: 60%. 24 deaths (rate per thousand is 44.6% higher than rest of Washington). 18.9% MORE cases (per 100K residents).
The reason I compare these counties is to highlight how toxic the Trump/republican ecosystem (politics & culture) is. In 2020, San Juan county returned a 74.3% vote for Biden/Harris (2nd highest in state). Pend Oreille voted 67.3% for Trump/Pence.
The plight of rural counties is not that they’re rural: it is that they are right wing supporters of a toxic republican party. It is that they worship their icon of white grievance, Donald Trump. As a result, they WILL die “to own the libs.” They WILL burrow into their already impoverished news cycles. Facebook will be more credible than any news media outlet. Science will be mistrusted. And because these people live in rural settings, they will overwhelm the local clinics and hospitals with the consequences of their bad-faith decisions.
When covid-19 disaster occurs, they then rush to the doctors, to the scientists, to the medicine they rejected on purely cultural/emotional/political grounds. They hog these resources they formerly ridiculed. Ultimately, they have zero faith in their bogus potions and their powerless god.
The rest of us have to pick up the pieces and deal with the fallout-many times at the expense of medical care we need. And it is ALWAYS at the expense of our long suffering health care workers, who are vilified even as they attempt to care for this toxic population. This entitled, white supremacist, reactionary culture, poisons not only their families, friends and co-workers, but all those around them. They are a virus in and of themselves.
Several people have pointed out I used “dehumanizing” language in my concluding statement: “They are a virus in and of themselves.” First of all, thank you for the feedback, including mentioning our amended rules of the road. I would amend my close this way: “Akin to the danger posed by covid-19 itself, these people increasingly pose an existential threat to our society.” I leave the wording in the diary in order to show the reason for these comments.
There have been numerous comments on differing levels of wealth and education. I do not dismiss these, but they are inadequate in explaining the stark differences in vaccinations and rates of covid-19 hospitalizations and death. Vega has an excellent comment on this subject.
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.