During the COVID-19 pandemic, scientific guidelines were rejected by many conservatives in the U.S. This polarization could have contributed to conservative counties’ higher mortality rates. Given the potential for political ideology to influence health behaviors that increase death rates during a pandemic, it is important to understand how group characteristics affect reasoning during heightened health-threat. Using the Moral Foundations Theory, in this study (N = 380), I examined whether people rely on their moral foundations to make judgments on others’ health-motivated transgressions, considering situations without health context, a context involving a lesser health threat, and a context involving a COVID health threat. Prior studies suggested that those with progressive ideology would judge health-threat moral transgressions as less egregious in contexts with increased health threat, unlike conservatives. Having established that progressives have higher affective (but not cognitive) empathy than conservatives, I examined the effects of empathy (cognitive and affective), moral foundations (Individualizing associated with progressives and Binding with conservatives), and political ideology (on a continuous spectrum) on health judgments. Data were best explained by a model with Individualizing foundations mediating the effect of empathy on Political Identity and Political Identity mediating the effect of foundations on health-salient judgments. There were also direct effects: judgments in the "no health" context relied on both Individualizing and Binding foundations and on affective empathy. Judgments about the lesser threat relied on affective empathy, Binding foundations, and Political Identity. Judgments about a COVID health threat relied on Binding foundations and Political Identity. In sum, Individualizing foundations had a direct effect only for contexts without a health threat, suggesting that progressives did not use their moral foundations directly to make judgments on health motivated transgressions, instead drawing from their political ideology to make those judgments. In contrast, conservatives used foundations directly for all contexts, and the foundations were mediated by Political Identity for the health threat judgments. These findings suggest that health threats (including those posed by pandemics) are a political issue in the U.S., which has implications for how health messaging should target aspects of empathy (in particular, affective) and moral foundations for specific audiences.