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The number of new Covid-19 infections in rural America climbed 18% last week, fueled by high transmission rates in the South.

The number of Covid-related deaths in rural America grew by nearly 70%.

New infections spread more quickly in rural counties than in metropolitan ones last week, resulting in a rural infection rate that is 25% higher than the metropolitan rate. The current rate of Covid-related deaths is more than two times higher in rural counties than metropolitan cones (see graphs below).

Southern states accounted for two-thirds of the new infections and half of the Covid-related deaths in rural America last week.

This week’s Daily Yonder Covid-19 report covers Sunday, August 15, to Saturday, August 21. Data comes from USA Facts.

Increases in Both Rural and Metro Areas

  • The number of new rural infections totaled 161,326 last week, up from 137,204 two weeks ago.
  • Deaths from Covid-19 totaled 1,513 in rural counties last week, up from 893 two weeks ago.
  • In metropolitan counties, new infections grew by about 8% to about 796,000. Covid-related deaths in metropolitan counties increased by about a third to 3,844.

South Remains the Hotspot

  • Florida had the worst rate of new rural infections last week, with nearly 1% of the state’s rural residents contracting a new case of Covid-19 last week (a rate of 930 new rural cases per 100,000 population).
  • Four other Southern states were in the top five: Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee.
  • Oregon had the sixth-highest rural infection rate last week.

Red-Zone Counties Increase

  • Although Southern states had the largest number of new rural infections, the Delta-variant surge has spread far beyond the South. More than 80% of the nation’s nonmetropolitan counties are in the red zone, meaning they had more than 100 new infections per 100,000 population last week. The White House coronavirus task force has recommended that localities in the red zone take additional measures to contain the virus.
  • Nine states had all of their rural counties in the red zone last week.
  • More than 400 rural counties had new infection rates above 500 per 100,000. These “very high” counties are shown in black on the map. (Metro counties with very-high infection rates ae shown in gray.)