Coronavirus hits Democratic communities harder than Republican counterparts

As the coronavirus continues to spread throughout the country, large urban cities and academic institutions — which typically vote Democratic — have been among the hardest hit.

According to the CDC, every state in the country has reported cases of COVID-19, including Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. New York, Washington, California, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Florida, and Georgia have been some of the hardest states, with New York and Washington reporting well over 1,000 cases each.

To be certain, COVID-19 is hammering the entire U.S., regardless of geographic location or political affiliation. And the coming economic calamity is expected to leave no industry or region unscathed.

Yet as the virus brings activity on both coasts — which overwhelmingly voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016 — to a grinding halt, the demographics underscore how Democratic areas are being more heavily impacted than Republican ones.

And while low-wage workers of all stripes will likely bear the brunt of the economic hardships caused by the spread of the virus, it is black and Hispanic workers — and black women especially — that stand to be negatively impacted the most.

According to Pew Research, black and Hispanic voters overwhelmingly lean Democrat. Over 60% of black voters are registered Democrats compared to just 3% that are registered Republicans. The gap among Hispanics is smaller but still significant:  roughly 40% of Hispanic voters are Democrats, while only 14% registered with the GOP. 

New York remains the epicenter of America’s outbreak, with thousands of confirmed cases.

Spreading in blue communities

The virus is able to spread more readily in the areas of higher population density — which accounts for why New York City, Seattle, and Los Angeles are exhibiting the highest number of illnesses in their respective states. 

According to the CDC, there are over 4,600 confirmed cases in New York State, and in New York City, there are nearly 4,000 infections and rising. That was double the figures that had been released just the day prior.

Meanwhile the partisan skew is obvious: The unabashedly liberal Big Apple hasn’t voted for a Republican president since 1924; and in 2016, Clinton won roughly 87% of Manhattan’s vote against fellow New York resident Donald Trump. 

In neighboring New Jersey, the state reported roughly 750 cases, with 195 positive cases reported in Bergen County, which encompasses the towns of Hackensack and Mahwah. Clinton carried the county by 13 points in the 2016 general election; in 2018, 36% of the county’s population were registered Democrats, compared to 21% of Republicans.

Of Washington’s 1187 positive cases, 562 are located in King County, which includes the city of Seattle. In surveys, more than half of Seattle voters identified as Democrat or leaning Democratic.

California has also been hard hit by the spread of COVID-19. The state has nearly 700 cases of coronavirus with 231 cases in Los Angeles County. 

In Florida, Miami-Dade and Broward Counties which encompass the nearby cities of Miami and Fort Lauderdale have reported 75 cases — the most in the state. In Georgia, Fulton County (which includes Atlanta) has been the hardest hit, with 33 confirmed cases, while neighboring Cobb County follows with 25.

Middlesex County, located just outside Boston in Massachusetts reported the highest number of cases in the state: 83. Nearly 40 cases were reported inside Boston itself. 

As is common with New York City, Seattle, and Bergen County, these communities also lean Democrat, and voted for Clinton in 2016.

And given the spread of coronavirus in these areas, there’s a noticeable partisan split in the way people are processing the crisis. Democrats are overwhelmingly more fearful of the dangers of COVID-19 compared to their Republican counterparts, surveys show. 

According to a recent poll from NBC News and the Wall Street Journal, nearly 70% of Democrats worried that someone in their families would fall ill from the virus, compared to just 40% of Republicans. 

Universities close

In addition to cities, universities and colleges are other areas with large populations left reeling from the impact of coronavirus. 

Hundreds of American colleges have decided to shut, forcing students to vacate student-housing immediately, while cancelling events like graduation and study abroad. While some college campuses are keeping classes going as usual, others have shifted to online learning. 

College campuses tend to lean left: According to a report from Tufts, 55% of college-aged voters during the last general election cast their ballots for Hillary Clinton. That’s compared to just 37% who voted for Donald Trump. 

And in a UCLA Higher Education Research Institute’s (HERI) survey of college freshmen, roughly 35% identify politically as liberal or far-left, while only 22% identified as conservative or far-right.

No Medicaid expansion

But people living in red states will also feel the effects of COVID-19 if they need medical care. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 14 predominantly Republican states have chosen not to expand Medicaid, the health program for lower-income Americans. 

A Democrat-led plan in the House expanded Medicare coverage for the elderly, while requiring Medicaid to expand coverage for the purposes of COVID-19 testing.

And while the legislation that passed through the House of Representatives over the weekend provides paid sick leave for millions of workers, there are still exemptions made for businesses with less than 50 employees, and others.

All told, it is estimated that up to nearly 12% of American workers could fall through the cracks created by loopholes in the legislation.

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

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