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The Covid-19 infection rate in rural America is about half the national rate. But during the month of April, the rural infection rate rose by a factor of more than 8, a much higher increase than that of metropolitan areas.
As of May 2, nonmetropolitan counties had 65,769 cases of Covid-19, with 2,508 of those cases resulting in deaths.
The map shows rural counties by infection rates. Counties with cases are sorted by infection rate and then shown in four different categories – or quartiles – with an equal number of counties in each category.
Scroll over individual counties (or visit our fullpage version of the map) to cases, deaths, infection rates, and population for each county.
Meatpacking plants were a major driver of the increases during April. Worthington County in southwest Minnesota has the highest infection rate of any nonmetropolitan county. The county has 899 cases. With a population of only 22,000, that gives the county an infection rate of over 4,000 cases per 100,000.
Worthington County’s JBS pork-processing plant closed last month after an outbreak of Covid-19 linked to the plant. The plant is set to partially reopen later this week, according to local reports.
Prisons are also a major part of rural hotspots.
The nation’s highest infection rate is in a county on the eastern fringe of the Nashville, Tennessee, metropolitan area. Trousdale County, Tennessee, has reported more than 1,300 cases of Covid-19. Most of the cases trace back to a state prison. While officially part of the Nashville metropolitan area, the county has a population of only 11,200. That gives Trousdale an infection rate of nearly 12%, which translates to an astronomical infection rate of 11,911 cases per 100,000 in population.
So you can see the broader national trends that lie behind the rural infection rate, we’ve also included below a map that shows all counties, both urban and rural, by infection rate. The map shows higher infection rates running through the Deep South and up the Eastern Seaboard. Other regions with higher rates of infection lie in the southern shores of the Great Lakes, the Four Corners region of the Southwest, and the Puget Sound region.