A new report from USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) finds rural residents appear to be more vulnerable to serious infection or death from COVID-19.
USDA says since the most recent surge beginning in late September, the highest case rates were in rural counties, particularly those that have no town larger than 2,499 residents. In late November and early December, infection rates in rural areas appeared to be slowing, while new cases in urban areas continued to grow.
Rural COVID-19 deaths per 100 infections were 1.86 in the first two weeks of December, 48 percent higher than the corresponding urban rate of 1.26. USDA says the rural population appears to be more vulnerable to serious infection in several ways, including age and underlying medical conditions.
The report says people may also be more vulnerable when they have difficulty accessing medical care, measured as lacking health insurance, or residing more than 32 miles from a county with an intensive care hospital.