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The rate of new Covid-19 infections dropped by 5% last week, indicating that the summer surge may be abating.

Covid-related deaths, however, continued to increase.

Rural counties reported just under 200,000 new infections last week, down 10,000 from two weeks ago. New cases in metropolitan counties fell by 3%, to about 826,000 new cases.

RELATED ARTICLE: Rural Covid Death Rate Twice as High as Urban One

Rural deaths climbed by about 13% last week, to 2,210. Rural residents accounted for about a quarter of all Covid-related deaths last week, even though they make up about 15% of the U.S. population.

In metropolitan counties, deaths increased by 14% to 6,886.

This week’s Covid-19 analysis covers Sunday, September 5, through Saturday, September 11. Data comes from USA Facts.

High Rates of Infection

  • Although the rate of new infections is declining, some states continue to have very high infection rates. Tennessee had the worst rural infection rate last week – over 900 new infections per 100,000 rural residents. Kentucky had the second highest rural infection rate – 782 per 100,000. Rounding out the bottom five were West Virginia, Florida, and Alaska.
  • At the other end of the spectrum, New England states had the lowest rural infection rates. Connecticut had only 0.82 new infections per 100,000 residents for the week. Next best were Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine. (The remaining New England state, Rhode Island, does not have any nonmetropolitan counties. Its statewide rate would make it sixth-best in the nation.)
  • All five states with the worst rural death rates were in the South or Southwest: Mississippi, Texas, Georgia, Louisiana, and South Carolina.
  • The state with the lowest rural death rates last week was Florida (which reported no rural deaths but had the nation’s fourth worst rural infection rate last week). Other states with the best rural death rates were North Dakota, Connecticut, Alaska, and South Dakota.

Red Zone Expands

  • More than 90% of the nation’s counties were in the red zone last week, meaning they had 100 or more new infections per 100,000 residents for the week. That’s nearly as high as the red-zone rate at the height of the winter peak of 2020-21. White House reports have recommended that localities in the red zone take additional measures to contain the virus.
  • Nearly 900 counties had “very high” rates of Covid infections – exceeding 500 new cases per 100,000 for the week.
  • Sixteen additional rural counties hit the red zone last week. Colorado added five. New York added four, while Missouri and Wisconsin each added three.
  • Twenty-four of the 47 states with rural (nonmetropolitan) counties had 100% of their rural counties in the red zone.

Note on data: Nebraska has stopped providing comprehensive data for Covid-19 infections and deaths.

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