I live in Bible Belt KY and @tatereeves is mostly full of crap. White evangelical religion is important, but attitudes toward Covid are more about the authority of pastors, the group life of church communities, and conservative political identity than “belief in eternal life.”
Secular patterns are also involved and probably more important. In fact, the over-arching value for rural whites in this areas is “family” instead of “faith.” It’s hard to over-estimate the importance of family in this region. I remember a student withdrawing from school for six weeks to join in a deathbed watch in Louisville (two hours away) for an uncle. As a “Yankee” from Upstate NY, that was unimaginable. In fact, my aunt in Pennsylvania banned me from the funeral of my favorite uncle–“You have a job to do” she told me.
Within the family context, there’s BOTH a powerful orientation toward self-sacrifice within a family context that makes people get out of deathbeds to greet a daughter coming home from soccer practice, take in relatives, worry themselves half to death over addicted children, and sacrifice everything for a child’s education.
But there’s simultaneously an ethic of indulgence that feeds into the rampant pill, meth, heroin, and meth addictions, extreme over-eating, and daredevil stunts with ATV’s, cars, and motorcycles. Health takes a seat at the back of the bus and just as many people age quickly from booze, obesity, and addictions as from extreme worry.
My NP wife says that Covid patients our age (65-67) look more like they’re in their 90’s. I’ve read that rural whites have an “illness” culture with prevention and wellness seen as foreign if not absurd. Doctors and pharmacists being seen as outsiders adds to that foreignness.