The Washington Post has sobering news for those not vaccinated against COVID-19: In many states, the pandemic is as deadly as ever.
The country’s falling Covid-19 case rates represent an unrealistically optimistic outlook for half of the nation – half who are still not vaccinated.
As more and more people are being vaccinated, Covid-19 cases mainly occur in the ever-narrowing stratum of the unprotected population. So the Washington Post adjusted its case, death, and hospitalization rates to account for this – noting that the virus continues to rage in some places among those who haven’t received a vaccination.
The Post’s analysis, written by Dan Keating and Leslie Shapiro, is fairly straightforward, using CDC data and adjusting the number of people vaccinated and controlling the possibility of infection even in those who received their doses. The results are as predictable as they are blatant.
For example, among the unvaccinated in Washington state, the rate of hospital admissions and deaths is the same as in January, the most virulent month of the COVID-19 pandemic. The national unvaccinated mortality rate “is about the same as it was two months ago and is barely decreasing”, while “the adjusted hospitalization rate is as high as three months ago”. The case rate is still falling, which makes sense because (in line with research showing a huge decrease in transmission from those who received the vaccine) more people who are vaccinated mean less spread of the virus .
However, for those who haven’t received the vaccine, COVID-19 is spreading just as quickly as it has ever been. The Post analyzed data from Maine, Colorado, Michigan, and Washington State; all had “adjusted rates about twice the adjusted national rate”. Some states like Minnesota, Oregon, and Pennsylvania are “a little lower”. Some peaks in the number of cases among the unvaccinated can also be traced back to variants of the virus.
Keating and Shapiro acknowledge that looking at death rates alone is not an indication of whether the pandemic is subsiding, as death rates are a delayed indicator of people who have been infected weeks before. So they looked at the hospitalization rate, which is more telling. In Maryland, for example, unvaccinated young adults are hospitalized at the same rate as in January. In Washington state, the Department of Health has warned that unvaccinated people ages 45 and over are 11 to 18 times more likely to be hospitalized than those who have been vaccinated.
This is not rocket science. It’s just a virus that does exactly what you expect by continuing to infect as many people as possible. And while some people go unvaccinated for medical reasons or because they just can’t vaccinate themselves or their children even if they want to, by and large these people don’t get infected because they are still taking precautions.
Washington’s Minister of Health Umair A. Shah, interviewed for the Post article, puts it very simply:
“I hope this doesn’t become a story of two societies,” he said. “The people who are vaccinated and protected can go back to life and take off their masks.
“Those who do not wear a mask or wash their hands are not vaccinated. These are exactly the people who meet often and are with like-minded people. They will continue the pandemic in these clusters. “
But the problem is that it’s already a “story of two societies” right from the start. Thanks to Trump and the GOP, it looks very much like it will end up too.