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The number of new Covid-19 cases in rural America grew again last week, marking the second week in a row that rural cases increased while metropolitan cases declined.

New rural infections increased by 5% from Saturday, August 29, to Saturday, September 5, from 49,100 to 51,600. During the same period, the number of new cases in metropolitan counties declined slightly, dropping by 0.2%, to approximately 237,000. Metropolitan cases have declined for six consecutive weeks.

Several other key measurements worsened for rural counties during the period:

  • The number of rural counties on the “red-zone” list grew from 767 to 806, breaking the record set last week. The first week of June, only 136 rural counties were on the red-zone list. (Red-zone counties are those with at least 100 new cases per 100,000 in population for a seven-day period.  The definition comes from the White House Coronavirus Task Force and indicates that the pandemic is out of control in those locations.)
  • The number of new cases that originated in rural red-zone counties grew by more than 17%, an indication that the virus is deepening in these harder-hit areas. This is the first time the number of cases originating in rural red-zone counties has increased in four weeks.
  • Rural and urban infection numbers are headed in opposite directions, meaning rural areas are now generating a disproportionately high number of new infections. Starting in early August, rural counties started to account for a larger share of Covid-19 cases (this week at 18%) and deaths (now 19%) than their population (at 14.03%).

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