IndyStar: White, rural spread defined Indiana’s deadly fall coronavirus surge
INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana Democratic Party, the organization that advocates for the future of Indiana and its families, today criticized the Indiana Republican Party for failing to protect the lives and livelihoods of our families in rural Indiana during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to yesterday’s groundbreaking report in The Indianapolis Star, the coronavirus’s dangerous spread throughout rural communities in the state could have been mitigated had Governor Eric Holcomb and the Indiana Republican Party put politics aside and properly educated Hoosiers about the severity of the pandemic.
It bears repeating: this is the modern-day Indiana Republican Party. They are a post-policy, post-fact, post-science Party that only dictates their agenda through grievance and anger, not any sort of vision to lead Indiana and its families to a better future. It’s simply why the INGOP won’t take up common-sense ideas like raising the minimum wage, respecting Indiana’s teachers and public schools, and decriminalizing simple cannabis possession. And it’s why voters cannot trust them.
Key points to the story are below:
IndyStar // Emily Hopkins and Shari Rudavsky
“Rural areas were not completely spared during the first part of the pandemic, but early outbreaks in these communities can typically be traced to specific industries such as tourism or meatpacking, according to Carrie Henning-Smith, deputy director of the Rural Health Research Center.
Except for a surge in rural counties at the end of April — largely driven by an outbreak tied to a Tyson Food pork processing plant in Cass County — per capita cases and deaths were higher in Indiana’s urban areas than in rural areas throughout the spring surge.
‘Then once we got to mid- to late-summer,’ Henning-Smith said, ‘COVID was running wild in rural areas across the country.’” […]
“Hoosiers in rural counties also die at a higher rate than residents of urban counties.
One reason for this is because rural areas trend older, and older people are more susceptible to the virus. But it’s also because rural residents face challenges to accessing health care, said Henning-Smith.
Rural residents are less likely to be insured, have more underlying health conditions and are more likely to be located a long distance from a hospital or clinic, she said. Rural hospitals are also likely to be smaller, have fewer ICU beds and are lacking specialists like pulmonologists who could help treat COVID-19 patients.” […]
“The fact that rural areas tend to lean conservative politically and that conservatives often discounted the virus only compounded this dynamic. According to the COVID States Project Survey, 41% of Republican respondents said they had attended or were planning to attend a holiday gathering in December, compared to 23% of Democrats.
Respondents of both parties increased mask wearing, but Democrats increased faster. They both also decreased social distancing, but Democrats decreased more slowly.
“The messaging from Republican elites has been — I’m trying to think of a good way to put this — has been less aggressive in terms of recommendations of personal health preventive behaviors,” said David Lazer, a professor at Northeastern University who co-leads the COVID States Project.
Indiana’s Gov. Eric Holcomb, a Republican, has been upbraided by some in his party for his stay-at-home order restrictions on businesses. Groups of anti-masked protesters gathered at the statehouse over the summer to voice their objections to the governor’s mask mandate.
The backlash was so fierce that it helped fuel a Libertarian challenger ahead of November’s election. Donald Rainwater’s campaign targeted voters who were outraged by Holcomb’s COVID-19 restrictions. While Holcomb was comfortably re-elected in November, Rainwater made history as the most successful Libertarian candidate in two decades.
Animus over the restrictions has carried over into the general assembly, where state lawmakers introduced bills aimed at reining in the power of the governor and local public health officials to mandate health measures.” […]