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Michigan and northwest Texas were rural hotspots in the spread of Covid-19 last week.

Nationally, new infections increased by 10% in rural counties, the third consecutive week that the new-case count has climbed. Infections last week totaled 49,690.

In urban counties, new infections climbed by 6%, to about 425,000.

A sharp increase in Covid-related deaths in rural America last week could be related to reclassification of cause of death. Covid-related deaths climbed from 835 two weeks ago to 1,502 last week, an increase of nearly 80%.

In urban counties, new deaths climbed by 29% to 5,807.

The surge in Michigan deepened last week. The number of rural counties with very high rates of new infections (500 or more cases per 100,000 residents) tripled, growing from seven counties two weeks ago to 21 last week. Metro counties with very high infection rates grew from six to 13 last week. (Counties with very high infection rates are shown in black [rural] and gray [urban] on the map.)

Texas also saw a big increase in the number of counties with very high infection rates. Counties with very high rates climbed from two just two weeks ago to 19 (15 rural, four metro) last week. All but one of those counties are in the northwest corner of the state, which includes the Panhandle.

This week’s Covid-19 report covers Sunday, April 4, through Saturday, April 10.

  • The list of U.S. counties in the red zone grew by 81 last week, with 586 (up 37) in rural America and 567 (up 44) in urban America. (The red zone is defined as having 100 or more new cases per 100,000 residents in one week. The White House Coronavirus Task Force has advised localities on the red-zone list to take additional measures to contain the virus that causes Covid-19.)
  • States that added large numbers of red-zone counties include Texas (16 additional red-zone counties), Iowa (13), and Tennessee (10).
  • States and regions where large numbers of counties remain on the red-zone list from two weeks ago include Minnesota, the Florida peninsula, and a large swath of the Northeastern U.S. running from Pennsylvania to western Maine.
  • States that dropped counties from the red-zone list include Kentucky, where 23 rural counties fell off the red-zone list.  Nebraska dropped 20 counties from the red-zone list last week.
  • The rural rate of new infections remained lower than the rate in metropolitan counties. However, the rural death rate was higher than the urban death rate. (See graphs below.)