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The number of new Covid-19 infections in rural America remained relatively steady last week while the rate of Covid-related deaths dropped by about a third, according to a Daily Yonder analysis.

Metropolitan counties saw declines in both new infections and Covid-related deaths last week.

Last week’s data doesn’t show dramatic changes that might indicate a new surge.

Rural counties reported about 61,100 new infections last week, down about 7% from two weeks ago. Metropolitan counties reported a 15% reduction in new cases, from 647,000 two weeks ago to 554,000 last week.

An additional 277 rural Americans died from Covid-19 last week, down from 433 two weeks ago. In metropolitan counties, the number of Covid-related deaths fell by about 20%, from 2,184 two weeks ago to 1,728 last week.

For the first time in more than a year, the weekly death rate was not higher in rural counties than in metropolitan ones. Rural and metropolitan counties had the same rate of Covid-related deaths last week – 0.6 per 100,000 residents over a seven-day period.

Cumulatively, the rate of death is more than a third higher in rural counties than metropolitan ones. Rural counties have had about 383 Covid-related deaths per 100,000 residents since the start of the pandemic, while metropolitan counties have reported about 279 deaths per 100,000 residents.

Rural infection rates have been lower than metropolitan rates since the end of the Omicron surge early this spring. In only six states the rural infection rates were higher than the metropolitan rates. These were Alaska, Montana, Oregon, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

Methodology. This analysis is based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention community profile covering Tuesday, June 14, through Monday, June 20, 2022. Rural is defined as nonmetropolitan, which are counties that are not located within a Metropolitan Statistical Area, according to the federal Office of Management and Budget (2013).

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