COVID 19 reported cases and deaths are at their highest levels in rural communities since the pandemic began. There are now more than 1.6 million rural cases, and cases have increased by more than 50 percent in the last month alone.   

UPDATE: COVID-19 in Rural America – November 15, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is a global health crisis affecting nearly every community – including rural America. While there are still many uncertainties, the health crisis changes daily and the pandemic’s impact on rural communities continues to grow and evolve. The Housing Assistance Council (HAC) presents summary findings of COVID-19 in rural America as of mid-November.

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To access an interactive version of this map, click on the graphic.
THE NUMBER OF RURAL COVID-19 CASES INCREASED BY NEARLY 60 PERCENT IN THE LAST MONTH ALONE

Total Reported COVID-19 Cases February 20- November 15, 2020

The first reported case of COVID-19 outside of metropolitan areas came on February 20, 2020. As of November 15, 2020, there were more than 1.6 million reported cases of COVID-19 and approximately 24,000 associated deaths in communities outside of metropolitan areas. Between October 15 and November 15, communities outside of metropolitan areas reported 605,000 new cases of COVID-19. To put this into perspective, it took seven months (February to August) to reach 600,000 cases in rural America. All but three counties outside of metropolitan areas now have reported COVID-19 cases, and nearly 90 percent of outside metro counties have also reported associated deaths related to the virus.

RURAL CASES ARE AT THEIR HIGHEST LEVELS SINCE THE PANDEMIC BEGAN

Newly Reported COVID-19 Cases February 20 – November 15, 2020

Nationally, the number of new COVID-19 cases has surged dramatically and reported rural cases also continue to grow to their highest levels since the pandemic began. Between November 2 and November 15, rural areas reported an average of 25,356 cases per day – an upward trend of about 64 percent in the past 14-day period. Similarly, rural reported COVID related deaths were up to an average of 307 per day compared to 222 deaths per day over the previous two-week period.

RURAL COVID CASES CONTINUE TO OUTPACE THE OUTSIDE METROPOLITAN POPULATION AS A WHOLE

Rural Share of COVID-19 Reported Cases

Initial impacts of COVID-19 were greatest in urban and suburban communities and these areas still have the largest share of cases and deaths. Since February 20, 2020, about 15 percent of the total reported COVID-19 cases were identified in rural communities. But the rural share of COVID-19 cases continues to rise nationally.  On November 14, 2020, 21 percent of new cases and 34 percent of new deaths were reported outside of metropolitan areas.

RURAL COVID-19 CASES ARE HIGHEST IN THE SOUTH AND INCREASING IN THE UPPER MIDWEST

Reported Rural COVID-19 Rates per 100,000

All but three counties have reported COVID-19 cases, but the virus’ impacts vary widely across the nation’s rural geography. There have been several instances of extremely high per-capita infection rates in rural areas – notably on some Native American lands and communities with meat packing and correctional facilities.  From October 15- November 15, the rural case and death rates increased most dramatically in the plains and upper Midwest, Southeastern, and Western states.

Covid-19 Cases per 100,000 Outside Metro Area - November 15, 2019
To access an interactive version of this map, click on the graphic.

About the Data

The information in this brief derives from Housing Assistance Council tabulations of data from The New York Times, based on reports from state and local health agencies, and the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2014-2018 American Community Survey.
In these analyses, the terms “rural” and Outside Metropolitan Areas are synonymous and refer to counties and counts outside of OMB designated Metropolitan Areas. 
The Housing Assistance Council is a national nonprofit organization that helps build homes and communities across rural America. 
www.ruralhome.org