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The number of new Covid-19 infections has increased significantly for the fourth consecutive week, according to a Daily Yonder analysis. The death rate remained relatively unchanged last week compared to two weeks ago.

New infections in rural counties climbed 60% last week to a total of 46,141. The rate of new infections has more than tripled since the last week of June.

The number of Covid-related deaths recorded in rural counties last week declined by 11 to 343.

The rate of new infections was virtually identical in rural and metropolitan counties last week, 100 new cases per 100,000 in rural counties vs. 104 new cases per 100,000 in metropolitan counties.

This week’s analysis covers Sunday, July 15, through Saturday, July 24. The data is from USA Facts.

An Increase in Red-Zone Counties

The map above highlights “red-zone” counties – localities where new infections total at least 100 new cases for every 100,000 in population over one week. The White House Coronavirus Response Group recommends that counties in the red zone take additional steps to contain the virus.

  • The growth in new infections is climbing fastest in the Deep South and in states adjacent to Missouri and Arkansas, the epicenter of the resurgence caused by the delta variant of the coronavirus.
  • Mississippi had a four-fold increase in red-zone counties last week, climbing from 15 to 67. Forty-one of the new red-zone counties were in rural areas. Nearly 80% of Mississippi’s 65 rural counties are in the red zone. Just one month ago, Mississippi had no red-zone counties.
  • Alabama’s red-zone counties jumped from 20 two weeks ago to 54 last week. Nearly 80% of the state’s 38 rural counties are on the red-zone list.
  • The number of red-zone counties in Texas more than doubled, from 59 two weeks ago to 137 last week.
  • All but one of Arkansas’ 75 counties is in the red zone.
  • Other states seeing significant increases in red-zone counties were Kentucky (from 21 red-zone counties two weeks ago to 56 red-zone counties last week), Kansas (from 30 to 45 red-zone counties), Tennessee (from one to 33 red-zone counties), Oklahoma (from 11 to 32 red-zone counties), and Illinois (from 26 to 39 red-zone counties).

Iowa, with Higher Vaccination Rate, Resists Surge

  • To the north of Missouri, Iowa saw a decline in red-zone counties, from 13 two weeks ago to five last week. In the latest Daily Yonder vaccination analysis, Iowa ranked 15th in its rural vaccination rate (43.8% of the population completely vaccinated). Missouri ranked 42nd (27.7%).
  • Arkansas, where the rate of new rural infections doubled last week, ranked 41st for rural vaccinations (29.5%)
  • Other states in the region with below-average rural vaccination rates and large numbers of red-zone counties were Louisiana (27.1% of rural population fully vaccinated), Tennessee (30.6%), Florida (31%), Oklahoma (31.8%), Mississippi (32.2%), Texas (32.2%), Kansas (35.2%).

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