Despite President Donald Trump’s brazen negligence in handling the coronavirus, the president actually performed better this year than he did in 2016 in counties with high COVID-19 death rates, according to an internal analysis from Reuters.
The report, which included results from 139 counties in 19 different states, found that Trump made a 4% jump in votes ― increasing from 50.1% in 2016 to 54.1% in 2020 ― in areas highly impacted by the coronavirus.
Trump also won the majority of votes in states with the highest COVID-19 death rates, including Florida and Texas. Under the leadership of Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), a big Trump supporter, Florida has yet to issue a statewide mask mandate since COVID-19 hit the U.S. in March; a trickle-down effect from the president who has consistently undermined the effectiveness of mask-wearing to curb the spread of coronavirus.
More than 230,000 Americans and over 1 million people worldwide died of COVID-19. Many American voters supported the president anyway.
“The president has spent months minimizing the virus and the pain of the loved ones of the more than 230,000 Americans taken by COVID-19. It’s no surprise that the deception paid off,” said Andrea Mulcahy, a Florida resident whose husband, Tim, died of COVID-19 in July at only 52 years old.
“It’s also heartbreaking that more Americans don’t understand the horror that so many of their neighbors have lived and continue to live,” added Mulcahy, who is a member of COVID Survivors for Change, a nonpartisan nationwide community of people who have been impacted by coronavirus.
The president has spent months minimizing the virus and the pain of the loved ones of the more than 230,000 Americans taken by COVID-19. It’s no surprise that the deception paid off.Andrea Mulcahy, Florida resident whose husband died of COVID-19
Trump has done everything in his power to downplay the virus, even after he contracted and was hospitalized for the virus in October. The president repeatedly ignored expert advice on mask-wearing and even mocked Democratic opponent Joe Biden for wearing one. Despite experts warning against it, the president continued to hold campaign rallies, which led to 30,000 more COVID-19 cases, according to one study.
If social distancing measures and other restrictions were put in place earlier in the year, over 35,000 deaths in the U.S. would have been prevented, according to research from Columbia University published in May. “If we had right from the very beginning shut everything down, it may have been a little bit different. But there was a lot of pushback about shutting things down back then,” Anthony Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease doctor, said in April.
Along with killing hundreds of thousands of Americans, the pandemic created an economic crisis of historic proportions. Unemployment numbers skyrocketed this year: Over 57 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits since mid-March. And the Republican-led Senate has refused to take up another COVID-19 relief bill, leaving Americans waiting even longer for any government help, if it comes at all.
The economy was clearly on voters’ minds. The majority of Joe Biden voters (around 60%) said the coronavirus pandemic is the most important issue currently facing the U.S., according to exit polls from The Associated Press. In contrast, Trump voters were more worried about the economy with around 50% saying that the economy and jobs numbers were the most urgent issues facing the country.
Biden and running mate Kamala Harris repeatedly said if they were elected to the White House, the government’s approach to curbing COVID-19 would change drastically. Biden has said he would put science first and listen to experts, while relying on time-tested public health strategies to track and reduce the spread of the virus ― something the Trump administration consistently rejected.
In spite of his surprising results in districts hit hard by COVID-19, Trump may ultimately lose the election.
Mulcahy noted Wednesday morning’s possible swing back to Biden as more mail-in ballots were counted. “I’m hopeful that leaders who actually have a plan to stop the pandemic will be sworn in come January.”
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost.