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Analysis: COVID-19 cases, deaths rising faster in rural areas

New COVID-19 cases and deaths are now rising faster in rural counties, according to new analysis (Source: “New coronavirus cases are rising faster in rural America. Some raise concerns as Ohio allows business to restart,” Lima News, May 7, 2020).

While the number of cases and deaths per 100,000 people is still lower in rural areas than in urban centers, a recent analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that mostly rural counties saw a 125% increase in coronavirus cases and a 169% increase in coronavirus-related deaths in the two weeks prior to April 27, surpassing metro counties.

“I think in some rural communities the message hasn’t been communicated clearly enough that everyone is potentially at risk,” said Dr. Carrie Henning-Smith, a researcher with the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health.

Rural counties are demographically at higher risk, too. These counties are older, on average, and have higher rates of underlying health conditions, higher rates of unemployment and higher poverty rates when compared to urban areas, Henning-Smith said.