The number of new Covid-19 infections in rural America grew modestly last week, while new Covid-related deaths fell by more than half.
New infections in the nation’s 1,976 rural counties grew 2%, reaching 50,697 cases. New cases grew by about the same rate in urban areas.
New Covid-related deaths totaled 711. That number, a decline of 53% from the previous week, is the lowest we’ve seen since mid-July.
The geographic distribution of rural Covid-19 hotspots remained consistent last week compared to the week before. Michigan led the nation in new infections, as it has for the entire month of April. Other regions with high rates compared to the rest of the nation were Minnesota, Pennsylvania, New York, all of New England, the Florida peninsula, northern Illinois, and central Colorado.
The Texas Panhandle, which had multiple counties with very high rates of infection two weeks ago, cooled a bit last week, But 27 counties in the northwest portion of the state still have high rates of new infections.
The Daily Yonder Covid map shows counties with very high rates of infection (500 or more new cases per 100,000 in population) in black (rural) and gray (metropolitan). Red-zone counties, defined as having 100 or more new cases per 100,000 in one week, are shown in red (rural) and pink (metropolitan). Counties with under 100 new cases per 100,000 for the week are shown in green (rural) and light green (metropolitan).
This week’s rural Covid-19 report covers Sunday, April 11, through Saturday, April 17.
- The number of rural counties in the red zone grew by 19 last week to 605. About 30% of all rural counties are in the red zone.
- Twenty-two of Michigan’s 55 rural counties have very-high rates of new infection (shown in black on the map). Fifty-five of the state’s 57 rural counties are in the red zone.
- States that saw increases in rural red-zone counties were Kentucky and Nebraska, which each added six rural counties to the red-zone list. Illinois, Maine, and South Carolina each added five rural counties to the red-zone list. Mississippi added four, while Michigan, South Dakota, and Washington each added three.
- Test positivity, a measurement of how well Covid-19 testing is detecting spread of the virus, was relatively good nationally. In rural counties, 5.3% of tests were positive. In urban counties, 6.2% of tests were positive. Michigan’s test positivity was over 15% for both urban and rural counties, an indication that the spread of the virus is likely higher than testing data reveals.
- Missouri removed approximately 11,000 cases the state says were duplicates from their Covid-19 report last week. Missouri is included in this weeks map, but county-level data in the county-by-county popup is omitted in all but a handful of counties.
- Newly available vaccination data shows that 22.2% of rural Americans have been fully vaccinated for Covid-19. The rate for metropolitan residents is slightly higher, at 23.7%.
- Alaska had the highest rate of rural vaccinations, with 35% of the rural population fully vaccinated. Other states with over 30% of the rural population vaccinated are Arizona (34%), Connecticut (33%), Maine (31%), and Maryland (31%).
- Georgia had the worst vaccination rate in the nation, for both rural and urban areas. Only 7% of the state’s rural population vaccinated. The rate in metropolitan counties is 10%.
- Seventeen states had higher vaccination rates for rural counties than urban ones.
- Florida had the worst gap between rural and urban vaccination rates. The rural vaccination rate in the state was 7 percentage points lower than the metropolitan rate (17.2% vs. 24.3%).
- Ten states had a rural-vaccination gap of more than 3 percentage points.
CORRECTION: Earlier versions of this post said vaccination rates reflected the percentage of population that had received at least one dose of vaccine. Actually, the numbers reflect the percentage of residents who have been fully vaccinated for Covid-19.