The president has COVID. A number of his close confidants, including Kellyanne Conway and Chris Christie, have COVID diagnoses of their own. It appears that Supreme Court Nominee Amy Coney Barrett’s Rose Garden Nomination Ceremony was a “superspreader” event that spread COVID among all levels of government — from the Presidency to the Senate.
However, frustratingly, the Trump Administration completely misused these tests — putting everyone who attended the event at risk. According to the NYTimes, these tests are specifically designed to test someone who already has symptoms for COVID. In this scenario, the test has a 95% success rate of correctly identifying someone who has COVID as positive. However, if someone has COVID and is asymptomatic (which would likely be the case with a guest at the Rose Garden — I doubt anyone would knowingly attend with symptoms), the test can miss as many as one in three cases (that’s a paltry 67% accuracy).
The White House insists that everyone tested negative before the event as if this absolves them of any responsibility for the fallout that’s ensued. However, if they’re talking about the results of the rapid tests (which is likely), the results aren’t reliable and the White House statement is meaningless. It remains unclear whether the White House used the tests thinking they were getting 95% accuracy, or whether they were aware that there was just a 67% accuracy given the circumstances they were in. If it’s the former, the Administration is astoundingly incompetent (surprise!). If it’s the latter, there might be a secret plot to assassinate the president and thin the ranks of the GOP because that’s grossly negligent. Either way, the White House was committed to using the instant tests as a solution to avoiding masks at public events despite all public health expert recommendations otherwis. After all, it would be bad optics to have everyone in a mask after Trump mocked Joe Biden for wearing a mask too often.
That being said, I wanted to see if there’s something systematic about the GOP and their approach to COVID-19. Are they taking this thing less seriously than the rest of us? Evidence suggests they might be doing so. And can we see it bear out in the data in a simple way?
- “GOP Staffers Detail Ridicule for Wearing Masks at Capitol”
- Staffers have told Politico that:
- “While mask use isn’t banned, it’s also not encouraged, and has been derided on several occasions by the [chief of staff]”
- “Ridiculing people for wearing masks is not uncommon”
- Staffers have told Politico that:
- “Masks are required at RNC 2020 in Charlotte. But many are not wearing one“
- “An Arizona congressman who tested positive for the coronavirus criticized Republican lawmakers for refusing to wear masks in the Capitol”
Thirteen (87%) of these states’ governors are Republican. Some of them — like Florida’s — are pushing for a full reopening of their state, defying what seems to be common sense and certainly worrying public health officials.
This isn’t meant to be a systematic review of the GOP’s approach to COVID. That probably exceeds the scope of this blog. But I did notice a pattern in COVID diagnoses by party, and I wanted to check out if the difference was statistically significant. It turns out that it is, and the most likely reason is that one party is observing public health protocols, while the other is openly flaunting them.
When I started this blog, I didn’t want to get too political. Obviously, that didn’t really happen. It turns out I really like blogging about current events, which are inherently political. I’m still trying to find a niche for the blog, so bear with me as I search for it.