An Associated Press analysis has revealed that of the 376 counties with the highest number of COVID-19 cases, 93% of the counties went for Donald Trump in the presidential election.

Most were rural counties in Montana, the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa and Wisconsin, the AP reports.

“Public health officials need to step back, listen to and understand the people who aren’t taking the same stance” on mask-wearing and other control measures, Dr. Marcus Plescia of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, said.

“I think there’s the potential for things to get less charged and divisive,” he said, adding that there’s a chance a retooled public health message might unify Americans around lowering case counts so hospitals won’t get swamped during the winter months.

As ESSENCE previously reported, Mississippi is another red state that has politicized mask wearing to the detriment of its citizens.

“As far as the case trends, we have had really pretty good uptake by a lot of folks in the Black community with masking and social distancing,” Dr. Thomas Dobbs, a State Health Officer said. “We’ve worked very aggressively to make sure that the Black community understands where the risks are and what can be done to prevent that. “And I just will say … I think big parts of the white community, especially in areas that maybe weren’t as hard-affected (previously), have not been as compliant or engaged actively with social distancing and masking. And I think that does make a difference.”

Read more at the Associated Press.

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