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Here's how the most- and least-vaccinated states fared against the delta variant

Emily Baumgaertner, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

The latest wave of COVID-19, driven by the delta variant, has brought hospitals back to the brink and destroyed hopes of a return to normalcy anytime soon.

But the damage from the coronavirus has been far from homogenous, in large part because of geographic differences in vaccination rates.

To help understand how those differences have played out, the Los Angeles Times looked at the five states with the lowest rates of full vaccination and compared them with the five states with the highest rates.

Mississippi, West Virginia, Idaho, Alabama and Wyoming — all deeply red states — each have a vaccination rate of about 40%.

That figure ranges from 67% to 69% in the solidly blue states of Rhode Island, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Vermont — in that order.

Those five states suffered much more than the five red states in 2020, primarily because New England was an early epicenter of the pandemic.


By this January, the total number of deaths per 100,000 residents was 152 in the blue states and 106 in the red states.

That gap soon began to narrow. The reasons almost certainly have more to do with policy and politics than with vaccines, which at that point were in short supply and reserved primarily for health workers.

Wary of more deaths, the Democratic governors of Rhode Island, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut all declared states of emergency.

All imposed mask mandates as well as travel restrictions that required people arriving from out of state to either quarantine or test negative for the virus. People were much more likely to follow federal recommendations for social distancing.


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