Thursday, August 13, 2020

New rural coronavirus infections declined in first week of August, but rural covid-19 deaths grew by 52%

Covid-19 red zones, Aug. 1-8. Daily Yonder map; click the image to enlarge it or click here for the interactive version.
The number of new coronavirus infections declined in rural counties over the first week of August, the first time that's happened since May. But the number of covid-19 deaths is still increasing.

Nonmetropolitan counties "had a 6 percent decline in new coronavirus infections from August 1-8. Rural counties had approximately 54,000 new cases during the period," Tim Murphy and Tim Marema report for The Daily Yonder. "The number of new cases in metropolitan counties started to decrease several weeks ago while the virus’ surge continued in rural areas. Metro counties had 314,000 new cases last week, a drop of 17% from the previous week."

The declining number of new cases is one of several indicators that the rural surge is leveling off. Additionally, the number of rural counties in red zones fell from 746 last week to 734 this week, Murphy and Marema report. Red zone counties are a White House task-force designation for counties with more than 100 new infections per 100,000 residents in a week (or one per thousand).

There are other hopeful signs: "Nearly two-thirds of all rural counties with new cases this week had a lower infection rate August 1-8 than they did the previous week," Murphy and Marema report. Also, "from August 1-8, only 817 rural counties had an increase in their new-case rate. The previous week, 888 rural counties had a higher new-case rate."

However, the Yonder notes that hundreds of rural counties have been on the red-zone list for weeks, some for more than a month, and that the rural death toll is rising. "The number of deaths in a one-week period grew by 52% August 1-8, with 1,035 fatalities. The total number of rural residents who have died from covid-19 stands at 11,313. That’s about 7% of the nation’s overall death toll of approximately 160,000 as of August 8," Murphy and Marema report. "Rural counties had a 70% increase in deaths from the end of June to the end of July."

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