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The number of new Covid-19 infections remained steady last week in rural America, but troubling levels of new infections placed an additional 68 rural counties on the White House red-zone list – an indication that authorities in those counties need to do more to control the spread of the virus.

A record-breaking 54% of the nation’s 1,976 rural counties were on the red-zone list last week.

New infections in rural America climbed only marginally last week but still managed to set a record for the second week in a row. Last week there were 60,968 new infections in rural counties, an increase of 58 .

The White House Coronavirus Task Force defines red-zones as localities where the rate of new Covid-19 infections is 100 or more new cases per 100,000 residents. White House guidelines say locations on the red-zone list should consider additional measures to contain the virus, such as limiting operating hours or closing bars and restaurants, requiring the use of face coverings, and limiting the size of social gatherings.

This Daily Yonder coronavirus analysis covers Sunday to Saturday, September 27-October 3.

More Information

  • Covid-related deaths in rural America increased 12% last week, totaling 1,142. Covid-related deaths in rural counties have exceeded 1,000 per week for the past two months.
  • Conditions continued to erode in the Midwest, Great Plains, and Intermountain West. Nebraska added 23 rural counties new to the red-zone list. Kansas added 17, and Montana added 14.
  • All but a handful of counties (both urban and rural) were on the red-zone list in Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota, and South Dakota.
  • Most new infections and deaths occur in metropolitan counties, but the proportion of rural cases and deaths is increasing.
  • Rural counties were responsible for 23.5% of all Covid-19-related deaths last week. Rural cases constituted 20.5% of all new U.S. infections. Nonmetropolitan counties (the definition this analysis uses for rural) constitute 14% of the U.S. population, meaning that new deaths and infections are disproportionately rural. This trend has been in effect since early August.
  • While new cases and deaths have increased in rural counties, they are declining in metropolitan counties. The number of new metropolitan infections fell for the third week in a row to 235,720 last week. The number of deaths from Covid-19 in metropolitan counties declined by 10% to 3,719.

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