By Kenny Choi

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — As many Bay Area counties begin to loosen COVID restrictions as numbers improve, there’s a growing trend in COVID deaths, showing a difference in red versus blue counties in California.

Early on in the pandemic, Latino communities were heavily impacted by COVID. The Mission Neighborhood Health Center in San Francisco is one site where the push to get vaccinated has been working.

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The lines aren’t long anymore, but nearly every day there are still members of this community who stop by the center to get inoculated.

The message has been heard loud and clear. According to the San Francisco Department of Health, 82% of eligible Latinos in the city have gotten at least one dose.

“They really heeded the call to get vaccinated,” said Fernando Gomez-Benitez of the Mission Neighborhood Health Center. “Through the Latino Task Force and UCSF, they really did a push in educating people to get tested even before the vaccine.”

But it’s many of the rural areas now that are disproportionately feeling the impact of COVID, and during the course of the pandemic and vaccination rollout, there’s been a growing difference between counties leaning Republican versus Democratic.

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According to data analyzed by the San Francisco Chronicle, the 23 counties where more than 50% of residents voted for Trump in 2020 have gradually taken on a larger share of the death burden across California. Those counties, which represent 8% of the state population, went from just 2.9% of statewide COVID deaths in March 2020, to 15.1% just last month.

“It shifted because of the vaccines,” said UCSF professor of medicine and Infectious Diseases Peter Chin-Hong. “It shifted because in California and particularly in the Bay Area, there have been interventions reaching out to these communities and vulnerable populations.”

The same data shows Democratic counties have received the vaccine at a higher rate than Republican counties. It’s a trend that mirrors what’s happening in other parts of the country.

“Where 70% of voters voted for the Republican Party the death rate is about 32 per 100,000,” said Chin-Hong. “If you look at counties where less than 10% voted for Trump, the death rate is 10 per 100,000.”

Last month, the Pew Research Center poll found that 86% of Democratic voters had received at least one shot compared with 60% of Republican voters.

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