New Covid-19 infections inched up for the second week in a row in rural counties last week, while deaths related to the coronavirus continued a five-week decline.

A similar pattern was evident in the nation’s metropolitan counties, according to the Daily Yonder's analysis of Covid-19 data.

New infections in rural counties (defined as nonmetropolitan) grew by 11% last week, increasing to 15,471 new cases, up from 13,983 two weeks ago.

A total of 324 Covid-related deaths were reported in rural counties last week, a decline of 16% from two weeks ago, when rural counties reported 387 Covid-related deaths.

This week’s report covers Sunday, June 26, through Saturday, July 3. (Our weekly vaccination report is delayed by the July 4 holiday.)

Rural Growth Centers

  • The Midwest and South led the way in increased rural infections. Nationwide, rural cases grew by 1,488. Arkansas, with 538 more rural infections last week over two weeks ago, accounted for more than a third of that growth. Most of the rest of the growth occurred in Oklahoma, Illinois, Kansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana.
  • A majority of the growth in metropolitan infections came from Florida. The state’s increase of nearly 4,600 new infections in metro counties was responsible for nearly 60% of the national increase in metropolitan infections.

Red-Zone Counties

  • Missouri’s surge in cases has established itself in Arkansas now. Arkansas added 12 rural counties to its red-zone list last week, the largest increase in the nation. Red-zone counties are defined as having new-infection rates of over 100 cases per 100,000 residents in a one-week period. The White House Covid-19 task force advises localities in the red zone to take additional measures to control the virus.
  • Missouri added three counties to its rural red-zone list last week, bringing its total to 29.
  • Kansas doubled its rural red-zone counties from five to 10.
  • Illinois’ rural red-zone count increased from two counties two weeks ago to nine last week.
  • Texas had the biggest improvement in red-zone counties, dropping from 25 two weeks ago to 18 last week.
  • Twenty-one states had no rural counties on the red-zone list. That figure includes Washington and Oregon, which each went from four rural red-zone counties two weeks ago to none last week.

Rural vs. Metropolitan Rates

  • The rural infection and deaths rates were slightly higher in rural counties than in metropolitan ones. This has been the case for the last month.