Thursday, December 7, 2023

Covid Chronicles. Chapter 92: Warren PA experiences sharp spike in new Covid cases


Read chapter 91here 

Friday, December 4, 2020    

According to tracking done by the New York Times, Warren County’s 7-day average of new Covid cases remained at 0 from March 1 until July 16. During our June visit, more than three months into the pandemic, the county had reported just 5 cases. Throughout the summer and into the fall, it consistently ranked lowest among all Pennsylvania counties in the number of positive cases per 100,000 people, one of the primary CDC indicators that provides an easy way to make an apples-to-apples comparison among various localities. 

In Wisconsin, for example, Dane County (population 545,000) has reported the second largest number of cases (29,053 as of December 6) behind Milwaukee County (no. 1 in the state with a population of 945,000 and 72,568 total cases). Dane County’s positivity rate of 5,497, however, is below the state average (7,130). In fact, Dane ranks 63rd among the state’s 72 counties. Of the top 10 counties, more than half of them of them have a population of less than 50,000. (Milwaukee County ranks 21st with a rate of 7,683, which Warren County’s rate – 1,110 – is well below even Vernon County in Wisconsin.) 

Even with its extremely low number of cases, I can’t say we felt completely at ease in Warren, enough though to let down our guard a bit during our stay. As it turned out, outside of Friday’s dinner at Snuffy’s, where everyone acted as if it were 2019, we never felt we placed ourselves at risk. We might have felt differently, however, if Christie’s had been at capacity, with a boisterous crowd of people at the bar. And at the Peppermill, all of the waitstaff wore masks, and plastic partitions were installed between every booth. (A smart move, as the restaurant appears to cater to an older crowd.) 

Warren County’s low number of Covid cases throughout spring and summer followed by a significant spike in the fall replicates what happening in rural northern Wisconsin counties. As a result, I have to wonder if a sense of complacency settled over residents who live off the beaten path. 

Oh, it’s an urban problem, just those damn liberals in blue counties. 

(Milwaukee and Dane in Wisconsin, Philadelphia and Allegheny in PA. ) 

As rural residents of the United States discovered in November, there is no escaping the virus. It will find you no matter where you live. And if you haven’t changed your lifestyle, as in wearing a mask and social distancing, you are placing yourself at a significantly heightened risk of being infected. 

What’s most instructive to me is how many rural counties experiencing recent spikes in new Covid cases doubled down on Trump in the 2020 presidential election. In many cases, he actually increased his percentage of the vote. In Warren County, he received 1,760 more votes than he did in 2016. Biden, on the other hand, added 921 votes to Clinton’s tally. After four year of incompetence, lies, graft, mismanagement, self-enrichment and all kinds of other bad behaviors, I was disheartened that so many voters feel that Trump is the better candidate, more qualified to lead. 

I’d like to take a stroll through the minds of these cultists to document and catalog the piles of garbage that have accumulated there. How such people manage to get out of bed each morning. They’re brain-dead. And at this point, I’m not ready to buy into the white working- class explanations that the chattering class is battering about, especially as it applies to the rural counties that doubled down on Trump last month. In Wisconsin, the majority of them are losing population. In Iowa, population loss in most rural counties, bastions of Trump support, have been losing residents for more than 100 years. 

As Craig Gilbert, a longtime Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter who covers voting trends, noted in a summary of 2020 election in Wisconsin. 
But the numeric voting power of these communities [that flipped from Obama in 2016 to Trump in 2020] was limited; the total votes cast by these 536 municipalities — about 452,000 — was slightly less than the number cast by the state's biggest county, Milwaukee. 
What happened in Wisconsin is shift in voter behavior in larger communities, particularly in the suburban WOW counties adjacent to Milwaukee. Suburban women really don’t like Trump. 

It’s getting worse.

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