Daily Bread for 9.26.21: The Vaccine Divide and the Economic Divide

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of 82.  Sunrise is 6:47 AM and sunset 6:43 PM for 11h 55m 49s of daytime.  The moon is a waning gibbous with 73% of its visible disk illuminated.

 On this day in 1789, George Washington appoints Thomas Jefferson the first United States Secretary of State.

Mark Muro and John C. Austin write The vaccine divide will drive even worse economic divides:

Now, the latest phase of the pandemic—with vaccines widely available but significant vaccine hesitancy and denialism in the face of the Delta variant—is tracing its own geography. And it is following and exacerbating the same intractable red-blue divide that has organized so much strife in America in recent years.

Since 2016, we have been analyzing the sharp divides in U.S. economic variables—whether they track output, employment, income, population density, or education levels—across the stubborn gap between “red” areas that voted for President Donald Trump and “blue” ones that have been voting Democratic. Now, as we explained to Bloomberg Businessweek last month, vaccine rates—a critical influence on economic recovery and growth—need to be added to that list of divides, as they will likely delay a return to normal in “red” communities.


Examining information on the local share of fully vaccinated people age 12 and above, county by county, we found that the vaccination rate in counties that voted for Joe Biden in 2020 was 61% late last month. In Trump-voting counties, by contrast, the vaccination rate was just 47%—a gap that has widened substantially since April.

That means that the vaccine divide—now aligned with the red-blue divide—will likely exacerbate the other economic divides that are already weakening the nation. Whereas the more heavily vaccinated blue counties will be better able to withstand the economic effects of the Delta variant, red communities will likely struggle as the virus keeps frustrated shoppers, travelers, and workers at home.

The latest figures from Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services show that 48.1% of Walworth County residents have completed at least one vaccine dose, while 56.5% of Milwaukee County residents and 73.6% of Dane County residents have done the same, as have 61.3% in still-red-but-not-as-red as it used to be Waukesha County (see The suburban ‘WOW counties,’ traditionally a GOP fortress in Wisconsin, show signs of cracks).

The statewide one-dose rate for all residents is 56.5%.

Many of the deepest red counties in the state have notably low one-dose vaccination rates (Taylor County 31.7%, Clark County 33%, Rusk County 37.4%).

One doesn’t have to be Democrat — as I am not — to see that High-growth areas in Wisconsin linked to rise in Democratic voting, U.S. census shows This likely works two ways: high-growth areas inclining to Democrats, but also Democratic policies more readily attracting new establishments and opportunities.

Nothing, however, says stagnant and unappealing backwater quite like areas beset with anti-mask and anti-vaccine fanaticism. 

There’s a warning here for anyone in Whitewater’s municipal building or the Whitewater Unified School District’s central office: overlooking the views of residents and families that equate vaccination with Third Reich genocide (by fashioning hypodermic needles into the shape of a swastika) or that equate wearing masks during a pandemic with the Nazi requirement that Jews wear a yellow badge is a moral error.

This overlooking is an appeasement of historical ignorance and an impediment to public health.

It’s also a fast track to slow growth. Talented newcomers and businesspeople will not choose a place that ignores fundamental distinctions between truth and error.

Officials might like to get along with everyone, but the merit of that approach depends on what it means to get along. 

A reasonable parent, for example, would not entrust his or her child to a pediatrician who couldn’t tell the difference between penicillin and leeches.

There’s no worthiness in a formal education — high school, college, or professional — that leads to appeasing superstitions and outright lies.

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