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Greatest increases of COVID deaths projected in Republican states

According to a Yahoo Finance analysis of the University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) coronavirus death toll model, states with Republican governors are projected to have greater death increases than those with Democratic governors. 

The Yahoo Finance analysis looked at the death toll projections for all 50 states and Washington, D.C., and compared them to the current number of deaths as reported by IHME for consistency. What’s more, the analysis found that Republicans govern roughly 70% of the states in the country with the highest increases in death projections.

Of the top 10 states with the greatest death toll increases, 8 are states with Republican governors. All states in the top 10 are projected to have death tolls that rise well over 150% from their current figures, according to the University of Washington model.

The top state is Arizona, which is projected to experience a 541% increase in deaths from COVID-19. According to the IHME model, Arizona is projected to have 2,987 deaths from the virus. Currently, according to IHME, the state’s death toll stands at 466. (The other Republican-led states include: South Dakota, Missouri, Alabama, Iowa, Florida, Mississippi, and North Dakota.)

Arizona partially reopened the state on May 4, allowing some stores to reopen for delivery, walk-up and window services. Gov. Doug Ducey issued an Executive Order allowing restaurants to resume dine-in service on May 11, while barbershops and salons reopened on May 8.

Graphic by David Foster/Yahoo Finance

Of the top 5 states that are projected to experience the biggest increases in their death tolls, only one had a Democratic governor. 

By Aug. 4 Minnesota is projected to have 2,073 deaths — a 271% increase from the current death toll of 559.

It’s a frightening reality facing many government officials as they mull just if and how they should reopen their states.

According to the University of Washington’s modeling, the easing of lockdown orders and the relaxation of mitigation techniques like social distancing has caused their projections of deaths from coronavirus to nearly double. After originally predicting that roughly 73,000 people in the U.S. would succumb to the contagious virus, the number now stands at nearly 138,000.

During his congressional testimony on Tuesday, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci warned states and regions on reopening without adhering to White House guidelines.

Reopening he said, needs “to the best extent possible to go by the guidelines which have been very well thought out and delineated.” And if they didn’t, he added, after being questioned by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), the results could be dire. 

“The consequences could be really serious,” he said.

On the flip side, the majority of states that are looking at zero-to-little death increases have Democratic leadership. 

Six of the bottom 10 states have Democratic governors. All are looking at increases of less than 50% from the current death figures to the projected numbers by the beginning of August. Even more surprising is the appearance of Washington and New York in the bottom of the list, despite being hardest hit by the virus when accounting for absolute positive cases and deaths. 

People are seen dining outdoors as Boca Raton restaurants re-open in accordance with Palm Beach County's Phase 1 reopening of businesses during the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic on May 11, 2020 in Boca Raton, Florida. Credit: mpi04/MediaPunch /IPX

Where Trump defeated Clinton in 2016

The analysis matches what Dr. William Frey has seen in his own investigation of the impact of coronavirus. 

Frey, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, has been tracking the prevalence of the virus in counties across the country.

As coronavirus spreads, Frey has found that it’s largely impacting counties where President Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in the 2016 general election.

Since the numbers of counties with the highest prevalence of the virus is growing in Trump counties, Frey said, “I assume the numbers of deaths are going to follow.”

But as more and more red states and regions are impacted by the virus, conservatives continue to push for the reopening of states’ economies.

Frey says part of the reason might lie in Trump’s “politicization” of the virus when it was predominantly slamming blue cities like New York, Seattle, and New Orleans. 

“At that point, people in these smaller places and red places didn’t feel like they were at risk and might have felt like they were being kept at home for no reason at all,” he said. “So they probably established that mindset before the spread became more vivid.”

The Yahoo Finance analysis found that with the exception of Minnesota, all of the top 10 states projected to have the greatest increases in COVID-19 deaths are currently open in some capacity. In contrast, half of the bottom 10 are currently under lockdown or plan to reopen soon, but have not as yet.

As the virus continues to slam red states and areas, there is a chance voters might rethink their political choice come November. 

“I think Trump is taking a big gamble in making this a political issue,” Frey said. “It could blow up in his face. It’s a calculated risk but it could be a bad one for him.”

Kristin Myers is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.

Read more:

Projected US coronavirus death toll rises to 138,000 as more states mull reopening

Reopening states: No ‘clear’ federal guidance: Kansas City Mayor

Reopening meat plants amid coronavirus a 'huge step backwards': Iowa mayor

Reopening states will cause 233,000 more people to die from coronavirus, according to Wharton model

Wealthiest Americans raking in billions from coronavirus pandemic: report

Georgia business owners split on Kemp’s decision to reopen economy amid coronavirus

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