A long-feared autumnal rise of infections and serious illnesses has in recent weeks been strikingly pronounced in Republican-leaning counties, according to a new analysis of health data from Harvard University researchers.

The research, which has not been peer-reviewed, shows that “red” counties with the most intense leanings toward Republicans have had the largest recent increases in cases, while “blue” counties that lean Democratic have tended recently to be flat.

The Harvard professors suspect that the Republican-leaning communities have been less inclined to follow public health guidance, including recommendations about mask-wearing and social distancing. The collision of the pandemic with election-year politics has had ripple effects that have undermined the collective response to this health crisis.

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