Dear Commons Community,
Most of the worst outbreaks in the United States right now are in rural places in the Midwest and Western Mountain regions. Where earlier peaks saw virus cases concentrated mainly in cities and suburbs, the current surge is the most geographically dispersed yet, and it is hitting hard remote counties that often lack a hospital or other critical health care resources. Since late summer, per capita case and death rates in rural areas have outpaced those in metropolitan areas. As reported in the New York Times.
“The total number of coronavirus cases and deaths in rural places remains smaller than those in cities because of the comparatively low population in rural areas. But the rural share of the virus burden has grown over time.
Now, about one in four deaths from the virus is recorded in a rural county. That stands in contrast to March and April, when almost every death was in a metropolitan area, as the virus tore through the Northeast, after early clusters in the Seattle area and populous parts of California.
These maps show the case rates in rural areas at different points of the national outbreak:
During the summer surge, rural outbreaks occurred more often than they had in the spring, but reported cases per million remained higher in cities and their suburbs than in rural counties.
It was not until August, when the outbreak was receding from Sun Belt cities like Houston, Miami and Phoenix that per capita rates of cases and deaths in rural areas surpassed those in metropolitan areas.
Now, with the national case count and hospitalization rates approaching a third peak, none of the country’s biggest hotspots are in a large city. Almost all the counties with the largest outbreaks have populations under 50,000, and most have populations under 10,000. Nearly all are in the Midwest or the Mountain West.
Though the outbreak’s geographic spread is expanding, many of the same kinds of places remain at risk for clusters of infections. In Norton County, Kan., the hardest-hit county in the country relative to its population, all 62 residents of one nursing home have been infected with the virus, and 10 have died. A state prison in the county also has an outbreak.”
We hope the virus passes through these areas swiftly.