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New cases of Covid-19 fell by nearly 50% last week in rural America, dropping to their lowest level in four months, according to a Daily Yonder analysis.

Covid-related deaths in rural counties dropped by a third compared to two weeks ago.

Rural counties reported about 65,000 new Covid-19 infections last week, compared to 120,000 two weeks ago. Since the peak of the Omicron surge in mid-January, rural infections have dropped by 90%.

About 1,750 Covid-related deaths were reported in rural counties last week, down from 2,600 two weeks ago. Since the start of the pandemic, rural counties have reported nearly 165,000 Covid-related deaths. That’s one death for every 247 rural residents. Metropolitan counties have reported nearly 750,000 deaths, one for every 378 metropolitan residents.

Only about a third of the nation’s 1,976 rural (nonmetropolitan) counties were in the red zone last week. The red zone is defined as having 100 or more new infections per 100,000 residents over a seven-day period. Just three weeks ago, nearly all of the nation’s rural counties were in the red zone.

Vermont had the highest rural infection rate last week. But state officials say that the high numbers do not reflect a resurgence of the coronavirus but represent cases previously reported at the state level that were being assigned to specific counties for the first time.

Connecticut had the lowest rural infection rate last week, followed by Georgia, Indiana, Nebraska, and Kansas.

South Dakota had the biggest improvement in rural infection rates, dropping by 78% compared to two weeks ago. South Carolina had the second biggest improvement, falling by 72% (See the sortable table below for more information.)

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