The wave of Covid-19 infections that began nearly two months ago in rural counties continued to generate a record number of new infections and deaths last week, in both rural and metropolitan counties alike.

New Covid-19 related deaths in rural counties totaled 2,448 last week, an increase of 20%. In the past nine months, just under 32,000 Covid-related deaths have been reported in rural counties.

New infections in rural counties last week totaled 216,045, a 10% increase from the previous week. Rural counties have reported record-breaking case numbers for nine consecutive weeks.

The Daily Yonder rural coronavirus report covers the previous week, Sunday to Saturday, November 14-21:

  • Nine out of every 10 rural counties is now in the red zone, meaning it has a weekly new infection rate of 100 or more per 100,000 population. The “red zone” definition comes from reports issued to the states by the Trump administration’s White House Task Force on the Coronavirus. The reports, which contain health data and recommendations for controlling the virus, have not been made public but many are available through the Center for Public Integrity, which has a searchable database.
  • The rural red-zone county list grew by 75 last week. All but 200 of the nation’s 1,976 rural counties are on the red-zone list.
  • Nearly half (45%) of rural counties are in the Daily Yonder’s new “very high” category, meaning they have infection rates that top 500 new cases per 100,000 in population in a week. (On the map above, nonmetro “very high” counties are shown in black. Metro “very high” counties are shown in dark blue.)
  • Metro areas are now catching up rural counties, which bore the brunt of the first months of the current surge. Ninety percent of the nation’s 1,165 metro counties are in the red-zone list now. About a quarter of metro counties have weekly new-case rates of more than 500 per 100,000.
  • Metro counties also set records last week for new cases (938,195) and Covid-19-related deaths (6,942).
  • Rural areas continued to experience new cases and deaths at a higher rate than metro counties. (See the graphs below.)