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The number of new Covid-19 infections in rural America fell by nearly 15% last week. Covid-related deaths in rural counties fell by more than 10% during the same period.

Meanwhile, nearly 900,000 rural residents were newly vaccinated last week.

A total of 44,620 new Covid-19 infections were reported in rural counties last week, down from nearly 51,000 the week before.

Covid-related deaths in rural counties fell to 652 last week, down from 711 the week before. Last week’s death toll was the lowest seen since mid-July.

This week’s report covers Sunday, April 18, through Saturday, April 24.

  • Michigan remained the nation’s coronavirus hotspot, but the rural infection rate there dropped 28% in the last week.
  • The number of rural counties in the red zone fell by about 10% to 541, the lowest number since the third week of March. The red zone is defined as having 100 or more new cases per 100,000 residents in a one-week period. The White House Coronavirus Task Force says localities on the red-zone list should take additional measures to contain the virus.
  • Twenty-seven states had net declines in the number of rural counties on the red-zone list last week. These were led by South Dakota, which dropped 17 rural counties from the red-zone list. Others with significant net changes were Texas (down 15) and Oklahoma (down seven).
  • Fifteen states had a net increase in the number of rural counties on the red-zone list. Iowa led the way with 16 additional rural red-zone counties. Alabama and Missouri each added six, while North Carolina added five.
  • Regional red-zone clusters changed only slightly from last week. Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania continued to have large proportions of red-zone counties, although overall infection rates improved. Other clusters of red-zone counties were in northern Illinois, the Florida peninsula, the upper South, New York’s southern tier, and New Hampshire.

Vaccinations

  • The number of rural residents completely vaccinated continued to climb, but urban vaccination rates were higher in 33 of the 47 states that contain nonmetropolitan counties.
  • About one in four rural residents is completely vaccinated for the coronavirus. That’s about 10% lower than the urban proportion.
  • Georgia had the worst vaccination rates in the nation. Only 8% of rural residents are completely vaccinated; 11% of urban residents are.
  • Connecticut, which has only one rural county, had the best rural vaccination rate – 38%. Alaska and Arizona were the next best with 37% and 36% respectively. Six more states have vaccinated more than 30% of their rural population – Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New York, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Washington.
  • Twenty states had rural vaccination rates that were at least 20% worse than their urban vaccination rates. The worst vaccination gap was in Florida, where the rural vaccination rate was 30% lower than the urban rate. Georgia was nearly as bad, with a 29% gap. Other states where the rural vaccination rate was at least 20% worse than the urban rate were Louisiana (26%), Nebraska (21%), Missouri (20%), and Massachusetts (20%).