YES, BUT: More context necessary.



The Democrat-Gazette today gave top-of-page-one treatment to the news that the state had passed 50 percent in the number of people older than 12 who’ve been vaccinated for COVID-19.

Some more context:


A ranking by Becker’s Hospital News, updated today, had Arkansas ranked 42nd in vaccination rate as a percentage of total population. The U.S. adult population that has been fully vaccinated stands at 63 percent, according to the CDC.

We are not nearly out of the bottom 10.


There are consequences — lost lives.

A column in today’s New York Times illustrates.

The Covid-19 vaccines save lives. Unlike much of the world, the United States has an overabundant supply. And yet many areas and groups of people in the United States are undervaccinated. This has led to preventable deaths throughout the country.

To quantify just how many deaths, we set out to estimate how many lives might have been saved if all states had managed to vaccinate their residents as quickly as the state with the highest vaccination rate (usually Vermont in the period we looked at). This provides a benchmark for what would have been possible with vaccination rates that we know are, under at least some circumstances, achievable.

The results:

During the latest coronavirus wave, in July and August, at least 16,000 deaths could have been prevented if all states had vaccination rates as high as the state with the highest vaccination rate. The number of lives that could have been saved will grow unless vaccination rates in lagging states improve.

Looking at you Arkansas. It’s another replay of the terrible results in Trump states — high COVID and death rates, low vaccination rate. Democrats are more likely to be vaccinated.


If you tried to predict whether a state voted for President Biden using only its vaccination rate, you would predict 90 percent of states correctly. As a result of this partisan gap, undervaccination has allowed nearly 12,000 preventable deaths in red states during July and August, more than double the 4,800 in blue states.

The story is not only about deaths, it is also about the infection rate. Getting sick costs money and, in some cases, has lasting consequences.

This chart from the New York Times sharply illustrates the Arkansas story, where the governor still defends his COVID “strategy” with ceaseless appearances on national TV.

So hold the ovation on that 50 percent vax rate. And behold with alarm the parade of Republican politicians rushing to TV cameras and reporter microphones with adamant vows not to require vaccinations or tests or masks in their workplaces.

The race to the bottom among Republican demagogues for the secretary of state nomination is notable. They apparently see no evil in COVID. There’ll be no mandates in THAT office. Hell, none of them will declare Joe Biden was the undisputed victor in the 2020 election — incumbent John Thurston consorts with the batty pillow man; Mark Lowery says flatly that Trump won and Eddie Joe Williams said if there’d been a proper investigation, Trump might have won. They love to talk about vote “fraud” in a state with virtually no evidence of it.

No point asking them whether they believe lax health enforcement is killing people in Arkansas. Political faith trumps science with the Republicans every time.