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New Covid-19 infections increased slightly last week in rural counties, climbing by 9% compared to two weeks ago, according to a Daily Yonder analysis.

Rural counties recorded about 18,200 new cases, an increase of about 1,500 from two weeks ago.

In metropolitan counties, the number of new cases fell slightly.

Rural deaths from Covid-19 fell by about 12%, from 713 two weeks ago to 630 last week. In metropolitan counties, 2,724 people died from Covid-19 last week, a decrease of about 5% from the week before.

The weekly rate of Covid-19 deaths was about 40% higher in rural counties than in metropolitan ones last week. The weekly death rate has been higher in rural counties than metropolitan for nearly a year.

The cumulative death toll from the pandemic is also higher in rural counties than metropolitan ones. Since the start of the pandemic, 172,000 rural Americans have died from Covid-19, which equates to about one death for every 267 rural residents. Metropolitan counties have recorded 771,290 Covid-related deaths, which equates to about one death for every 366 metropolitan residents.

  • The metropolitan rate of new infections was about two times higher than the rural rate last week.
  • The number of U.S. counties with very high rates of new infection (over 500 new cases per 100,000 for the week) declined last week. Only nine counties (all of them rural) fell into this category, a decline of six from two weeks ago. At the peak of the Omicron surge early this year, nearly 95% of U.S. counties had very high infection rates.
  • The number of counties in the red zone, however, increased. The red zone is defined as having 100 or more new cases per 100,000 residents. The number of rural counties in the red zone increased modestly from 122 two weeks ago to 155 last week. In metropolitan areas, the number of red zone counties more than doubled, from 144 two weeks ago to 318 last week.
  • Alaska had the highest rural infection rate last week, followed by six Northeastern states: Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, and Connecticut.
  • Wyoming, Indiana, and Utah had the lowest rural infection rates.
  • Data from Kansas is missing from this week’s report.

The Daily Yonder’s analysis is based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and covers Monday, April 11, through Sunday, April 17.

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