The rate of cases in counties with strong recreation economies was more than three times higher than other rural counties. (Daily Yonder graphic using data from USA Facts and USDA ERS county economic types)

Rates of coronavirus infection in rural counties with large tourist and recreation economies are more than three times higher than for rural counties with other kinds of economies, according to a Daily Yonder analysis.

Rural counties continue to have much lower rates of infection than the nation’s largest cities. But rural recreation counties have rates of infection that are greater than for smaller metropolitan areas.

The Yonder used data collected from state health agencies by USA Facts.  We relied on the Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service for descriptions of each county’s economy. We then calculated the number of coronavirus cases per million population.

Explore a full-size version of the map.

In rural recreation counties, there were 98 cases of coronavirus for every million people, based on the number of cases reported in the data released on March 24. In farming counties, the rate was 22.4 per million. In manufacturing counties it was 25.2 per million; in mining counties, 24.7 per million.

In the central city counties in metropolitan areas of a million or more, the rate based on Tuesday’s figures was 292 per million. In the suburbs of those cities, it was 225 per million.

But in all cities under a million and in rural counties, the average rate was between 40 and 50 per million.

The rural recreation counties with the largest number of cases Tuesday were in Western state ski areas, such as Eagle County in Colorado and Summit County in Utah. Of the 10 rural counties with the most cases on Tuesday, seven were recreation counties.

The exact number of cases is a moving target. But every indication is that the numbers and rates of infection are increasing. Between Monday and Tuesday, the infection rate increased between 25 percent and 35 percent from rural America to the centers of the major cities.

The number of cases in rural counties increased from 1,313 on Monday to 1,713 on Tuesday. Three more people died of the coronavirus in rural counties, bringing the total number of deaths in rural America to 18.

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