New infections and Covid-related deaths both increased significantly last week in rural America, according to a Daily Yonder analysis.

Metropolitan counties saw marginal increases in both infections and Covid-related deaths, compared to two weeks ago.

New Infections

New infections grew by 14% last week in rural (nonmetropolitan) counties, the fifth consecutive week of increases. Rural counties reported 116,000 new cases from Tuesday, July 19, to Monday, July 25. That’s the highest rate of new infections since the end of the Omicron surge in late winter. 

The actual rate of new infections is likely much greater, public health researchers say, because of home testing, which is not generally part of publicly reported infections. Officially reported cases still provide an important clue in week-to-week comparisons of infection rates.

Deaths

Deaths, a trailing indicator of infections, increased by 27% in rural counties last week, compared to just a 3.3% increase in metropolitan counties. Rural areas reported 605 Covid-related deaths last week, compared to 476 two weeks ago. In metropolitan counties, 2,461 Covid-related deaths were reported.

The Covid death rate has been higher in rural America than in metropolitan counties for all but one week in the last year. The rural death rate was about 50% higher than the metropolitan death rate last week. Cumulatively, the rural death rate is 36% higher than the metropolitan rate.

Data is from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention community profile report.

Rural is defined as counties that are not part of a Metropolitan Statistical Area, according to the federal Office of Management and Budget (2013).

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