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The rate of new Covid-19 infections in rural America climbed for the third week in a row last week, according to a Daily Yonder analysis.

Three-quarters of all rural counties were in the red zone last week, up from about two-thirds of all rural counties two weeks ago.  The red zone is defined as having 100 or more new infections per 100,000 residents in a seven-day period.

The increase in new infections was more modest in metropolitan counties, but the metropolitan infection rate remained slightly higher than the rural infection rate.

New Infections

New rural infections grew by nearly 20% last week and totaled just over 98,000 new cases. In metropolitan counties, new infections grew by about 9% compared to two weeks ago, reaching about 721,000 new cases.

These raw numbers are small compared to previous phases of the pandemic, but that’s more a reflection of the increase in home testing (which generally is not part of publicly reported data) than a measurement of the absolute incidence of Covid-19.

While weekly data is less useful for comparing current trends to previous phases of the pandemic, weekly change is still a useful guide for evaluating current trends. And by that measurement, Covid-19 is on the rise nationally.

Deaths

Rural counties reported 419 Covid-related deaths last week, an increase of about 17% from two weeks ago. Metropolitan counties reported 2,044 deaths, which is slightly lower than two weeks ago.

The rural death rate of 0.91 per 100,000 residents was 26% higher than the metropolitan death rate of 0.71 per 100,000 residents. The rural death rate has been higher than the metropolitan rate every week except one for the last year.

The cumulative rate of deaths caused by Covid-19 is about a third higher in rural counties than in urban ones.

This week's analysis of Covid-19 in rural America covers Tuesday, July 5, through Monday, July 11, 2022. Data comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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