Many big cities are seeing the number of COVID-19 cases fall, but rural counties are seeing the opposite, according to a new analysis by the Daily Yonder, a rural nonprofit news outlet.
Daily Yonder editor Tim Marema, who co-authored the analysis, said they examined the number of cases in rural areas because they tend to have older populations with higher rates of pre-existing conditions.
"If it spreads in rural America, it could be a big problem for those residents because of their vulnerability," Marema said. "So then the question becomes, is it spreading?"
The analysis shows that the percentage of new cases coming from rural counties – those with fewer than 50,000 people – more than doubled from March 29 to on April 27. Small metro counties – under 250,000 people – saw a similar increase.
Still, nonmetropolitan counties, which represent about 15% of the nation's population, account for only about 10% of the nation's COVID-19 cases, the analysis found. Farming and mining counties generally have lower infection rates, Marema said, while towns with meat packing plants, prisons, vacation homes and manufacturing plants have seen higher numbers.
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
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