While to date big cities and major urban areas have seen the greatest number of coronavirus cases and deaths, a new KFF analysis finds the growth rate is now higher in rural areas, where the population tends to be older, younger people are more likely to have high-risk health conditions, and there are fewer intensive-care beds.
The analysis finds that in the two-week period ending April 27, non-metro, mostly rural counties saw a 125% increase in coronavirus cases (from 51 to 115 cases per 100,000 people) and a 169% increase in deaths (from 1.6 to 4.4 deaths per 100,000 people). Meanwhile, metro counties saw a 68% increase in cases (from 195 cases per 100,000 people to 328) and a 113% increase in deaths (from 8.0 deaths per 100,000 people to 17.0).
Some counties with the highest rates of cases and deaths are located in Georgia, Oklahoma and Montana, which are beginning to ease social-distancing measures originally implemented to slow the spread of coronavirus. The analysis suggests such states could face particular challenges in easing such restrictions, given recent case and death trends in their rural counties.