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The number of new Covid-19 infections grew last week, while the number of Covid-related deaths dropped.

New rural infections climbed by about 9%, reaching 45,353. This is the second consecutive week that cases have increased, after a three-month decline that began at the start of 2021. Rural America’s current rate of new infections is 80% lower than it was at the peak of the winter surge in early January.

The number of new Covid-related deaths in rural areas totaled 835, a decline of 5% from two weeks ago.

This week’s report on Covid-19 in rural America covers the period Sunday, March 28, through Saturday, April 3.

  • The number of rural counties in the red zone held steady last week. The red-zone list grew by only three counties, to 549, or about a quarter of the nation’s 1,976 rural counties. The red zone is defined as having 100 or more new cases per 100,000 in a week. The White House says localities in the red zone should take additional steps to contain the spread of the coronavirus.
  • The relative stability of the number of red-zone counties disguises regional changes. Kentucky added 33 rural counties to the red-zone list last week. Two thirds of the state’s rural counties are in the red zone.
  • Nebraska added 15 rural counties to the red zone. About a third of the state’s rural counties are now on the list.
  • Ohio added 12 rural counties to the red zone.
  • Michigan, which has been a trouble spot throughout the spring, added six rural counties to the red zone last week. Nine out of every 10 of the state’s 57 rural counties are in the red zone.
  • Michigan also had seven of the 18 rural counties with very high new-infection rates, defined as 500 or more new cases per 100,000 for the week.
  • Michigan’s rate of new infections was the worst in the country in both rural and urban areas. The state’s overall rate of new infections (450 cases per 100,000 for the week) was nearly twice that of the next highest state (Connecticut, with a rate of 245 new infections per 100,000).
  • States with the biggest decline in rural red-zone counties were Texas (down 21), Tennessee (down 12), Virginia (down 10), and Idaho (down 6). 
  • Nineteen states decreased their number of rural red-zone counties last week, and another six saw no change.