After nine months since the first COVID 19 case was reported in a rural community, there are 1.2 million rural cases, and rural deaths from the virus are now consistently above 25 percent of the daily national total.
UPDATE: COVID-19 in Rural America – October 24, 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 after nine months since the first reported case outside of metropolitan areas on February 20, 2020.
MORE THAN 1 MILLION RURAL AMERICANS HAVE BEEN INFECTED WITH COVID-19
Total Reported COVID-19 Cases February 20- October 24, 2020
The first reported case of COVID-19 outside of metropolitan areas came on February 20, 2020. As of October 24, 2020, there were more than 1.1 million reported cases of COVID-19 and approximately 24,000 associated deaths in communities outside of metropolitan areas. All but four counties outside of metropolitan areas now have reported COVID-19 cases, and over 80 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 – October 24, 2020
Nationally, the number of new COVID-19 cases have begun to increase again and reported rural cases have also grown to some of their highest levels since the pandemic began. Between October 11 and October 24, rural areas reported an average of 12,807 cases per day – an upward trend of about 30 percent in the past 14-day period. Similarly, rural reported COVID related deaths were up to an average of 217 per day compared to 172 deaths per day over the previous two-week period.
RURAL COVID CASES NOW OUTPACE THE OUTSIDE METROPOLITAN POPULATION AS A WHOLE
Rural Share of COVID-19 Reported Cases
Initial impacts of COVID-19 were greatest in urban communities and these areas still have the largest share of cases and deaths. Since February 20, 2020, about 14 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 August 24, 2020, approximately 17 percent of new COVID-19 cases and 19 percent of deaths were reported in rural communities. On October 24, 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
Over 99 percent of counties outside of Metropolitan areas 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 September 24- October 24, the rural case and death rates increased most dramatically in the plains and upper Midwest, as well as in some Appalachian and southern communities.
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.