WashPost Writer: Sadly, Trump's Rural Voters Face Virus with Few ICU Beds in Hospitals

March 21st, 2020 11:21 PM

Elizabeth Vaughn at RedState noticed that The Washington Post can’t help but show contempt for rural voters who pulled the lever for Donald Trump. Don't they know Democrats are the "party of health care"?

Kaiser Health News found that “More than half the counties in America have no intensive care beds, posing a particular danger for more than 7 million people who are age 60 and up ― older patients who face the highest risk of serious illness or death from the rapid spread of COVID-19."

Their headline was “Millions Of Older Americans Live In Counties With No ICU Beds As Pandemic Intensifies.”

Enter Washington Post political writer Philip Bump, who amped this story up to an 11. His story is headlined “1 in 8 Trump voters lives in a county with no ICU beds.”

Comparing the county-level data from Kaiser Health News to 2016 presidential election data, we discovered a remarkable bit of data: About 8.3 million people who voted for Trump in 2016 live in counties where there are no ICU beds or no hospitals. That amounts to about 13 percent of the total votes Trump earned in that election, or one out of every eight votes.

Those counties are also home to about 3.8 million people who voted for Hillary Clinton, a figure which makes up only about 5 percent of her total. Most of the counties voted for Trump by wide margins; he won them by an average of 41 points. He won 10 times as many counties with no ICU beds as did Clinton.

For every person 60 or older in a county which voted for Clinton and has no ICU beds, there are 10 times as many people in that age group in counties that backed Trump and have no ICU beds.

Bump says this isn't political, but that's certainly how it can be interpreted: Isn't it ironic that rural voters would back a president who might muck this coronavirus thing up and cost the lives of older voters in rural hospitals?

The issue here isn’t politics. It is that many Americans have limited access to the sort of medical care the virus might necessitate. It’s that many others live in places where that access will quickly be strained by the volume of covid-19 cases that are expected to emerge.

For a president so heavily focused on his base, though, it is worth noting how heavily that former group overlaps with his most fervent support. 

It would certainly look political if the Trump administration prioritized rural hospitals right now when those areas have a very small fraction of the confirmed cases.