Covid-19 ‘Red Zone’ Covers One-Third of Rural Counties

The Daily Yonder | By Bill Bishop | July 20, 2020

A third of all rural counties are in a “red zone” for Covid-19 cases, according to a definition devised by the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

In a document prepared for the White House group, “red zones” were defined as places that had 100 or more Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people in the last week. The document was dated July 14 and found that 18 states met that definition.

(The document was not officially released. It was obtained by the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit news organization. You can find the document here.)

The Daily Yonder calculated this rate for all counties based on the number of new cases reported from July 11 through July 18. We used the cases counted by USA Facts.

Urban America was in worse shape. A higher proportion of urban counties were in the “red zone” during this week, according to our figures. Just over 41 percent of urban counties were in the “red zone” compared to 32.2 percent of rural counties. Also, 12% of rural counties reported no new cases in the week we studied. Only 1.6% of urban counties reported zero cases during this week.

The map above shows all the “red zone” counties. Explore a full-page version of the map.

The White House report recommends that “red zone” areas “should revert to more stringent protective measures, limiting social gatherings to 10 people or fewer, closing bars and gyms and asking residents to wear masks at all times,” according to the Center for Public Integrity.