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Rural Infections Decline by 20%; Number of Covid Deaths Falls Slightly

Rural Infections Decline by 20%; Number of Covid Deaths Falls Slightly

For the first time since early June, both Covid-related deaths and new infections declined last week in rural counties, according to a Daily Yonder analysis.

New infections in rural (nonmetropolitan) counties dropped by about 20%, to a total of 159,204. It’s the second consecutive week of declines in new infections.

Surprisingly, fewer Covid-related deaths were reported in rural counties last week. Deaths fell by a modest 3%, to 3,102. After previous surges, the number of Covid-related deaths continued to climb for several weeks after new infections had peaked.

Metropolitan infections and deaths also fell. That means rural counties continue to have worse infection and death rates from Covid-19. (See the graphs above.) The rural infection rate is two-thirds higher than the metropolitan rate (346 versus 207 per 100,000 residents). The rural death rate is 90% higher than the metropolitan one (6.73 versus 3.57 per 100,000).

The rural infection rate is higher than the metro rate in 37 of the 47 states that contain nonmetropolitan counties. The rural death rate is higher in 38 states.

Alaska is the nation's new hotspot, both for rural and metropolitan infections and deaths. Infections were up by more than 150% for both rural and urban areas. Statewide, deaths increased five fold to 83, up from 14 two weeks ago. Deaths in rural Alaska grew from three two weeks ago to 24 last week.

This week’s report covers Sunday, September 26, through Saturday, October 2. Data comes from USA Facts, supplemented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (See note at the bottom of the story for more information).


This story defines rural as nonmetropolitan counties, using the list created by the Office of Management and Budget in 2013. For more on rural definitions, visit the USDA Economic Research Service website.

Data is from USA Facts and runs through October 2, except for Nebraska, Florida, and New Jersey, where there were data gaps. For these states, we supplemented the data with information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC data covers the week ending October 3.

Posted on October 7, 2021 in News.
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