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The number of new Covid-19 infections dropped for the third consecutive week, but the rural infection rate remains significantly higher than the metropolitan rate.

The gap between the rural and metropolitan death rates is even more pronounced, according to a Daily Yonder analysis.

New infections fell by about 12% in rural counties last week, compared to a 11% drop in metropolitan counties.

Covid-related deaths in rural counties fell by about 14%, while the death rate fell about 13% in metropolitan counties.

For the week ending Saturday, October 9, the rural infection rate was about two thirds higher than the metropolitan rate. The rural death rate was 89% higher than the metropolitan death rate.

New cases are trending downward nationally, but 12 states had higher rural infection rates last week than they did two weeks ago. Nevada saw the biggest jump in rural infections, with an increase of 84% last week compared to two weeks ago. Nevada is part of Covid hot-spots covering parts of the northern Great Plains, Rocky Mountains, and interior West.

Other states that saw double-digit percentage increases in rural infection rates were New Hampshire, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Connecticut, North Dakota, and Montana.

States that reduced their rural infection rates by more than 30% were Nebraska, Alaska, Texas, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, West Virginia, and Maine.

Despite the decreases, nearly 90% of the nation’s 1,976 rural counties were in the red zone, meaning they had infection rates of more than 100 new cases per 100,000 residents in a single week. The White House has advised localities that exceed this threshold to take additional steps to contain the virus. The number of rural red-zone counties fell by 85 last week, to 1,734. Three hundred of these counties had very high infection rates – over 500 new cases per 100,000 for the week.

Texas and Georgia moved the most rural counties out of red zone last week. Texas had a net loss of 29 rural red-zone counties, and Georgia had a net loss of 22.

This week’s Daily Yonder Covid-19 analysis covers Sunday, October 3, through Saturday, October 9. Data is from USA Facts and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.