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 early September 2020.
TOTAL REPORTED COVID-19 CASES FEBRUARY 20- SEPTEMBER 10, 2020
The first reported case of COVID-19 outside of metropolitan areas came on February 20, 2020. As of September 10, 2020, there were more than 732,000 reported cases of COVID-19 and over 16,700 associated deaths in communities outside of Metropolitan Areas. All but 14 counties outside of metropolitan areas now have reported COVID-19 cases, and nearly three-quarters of outside metro counties have also reported associated deaths related to the virus.
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. But the rural share of COVID-19 cases continues to rise nationally. On August 10, 2020, approximately 12 percent of new COVID-19 cases and 18 percent of deaths were reported in rural communities. On September 10, 2020, 17.9 percent of new cases and 19.7 percent of new deaths were reported outside of metropolitan areas.
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 are 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 August 10- September 10, the rural case and death rates increased most dramatically in the upper Midwest and in some Appalachian and southern counties.
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.