WebMD News Brief

U.S. Rural Areas Also See COVID-19 Increases

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June 29, 2020 -- As states in the South and West, such as Arizona, Texas, and Florida set daily records for new coronavirus cases, rural towns are recording higher numbers as well, according to the Associated Press.

At the beginning of the pandemic, New York City and other large urban areas emerged as hotspots due to the large populations and frequent interactions between people that enabled the coronavirus to spread easily. Now states such as Kansas, Idaho and Oklahoma are seeing increases.

The numbers are still low, but they are climbing higher, the news outlet reported. In early June, the seven-day average in Kansas was about 96 per day. Now it has doubled.

Also in early June, the seven-day average for Oklahoma was around 81 per day. Now the state is reporting more than four times that, with 376 new cases on Friday. During that same time, Idaho also quadrupled from 40 to 160 daily cases.

On Friday, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas ordered residents to wear face masks in public. He called on businesses to turn away customers without masks.

“I know wearing masks can be uncomfortable, but this is a necessary step to ensure we can save lives and keep our economy open,” he said in an announcement on Friday afternoon. “We wear masks to protect our loved ones, those around us, and their loved ones.”

Rural counties in states with record highs are also increasing, including areas in Arkansas, California, Florida, Missouri and Texas that doubled during the past week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

In Lassen County, California, and Hot Spring County, Arkansas, large spikes were linked to outbreaks in prisons, the AP reported. In McDonald County, Missouri, cases tripled when Tyson Foods tested employees at a chicken plant.

Overall, rural counties in the U.S. saw a record number of new COVID-19 cases for a second week in a row, according to The Daily Yonder in Knoxville, Tennessee. Between June 17-24, rural counties recorded more than 23,000 new cases. The week before, rural counties reported more than 19,000 cases.

In Wisconsin, Marathon County marked its highest weekly increase this week since cases started to climb at the beginning of June, according to WSAW.

“We’re seeing transmission happen faster than ever before in our pandemic,” Judy Burrows, a spokeswoman for the Marathon County Health Department, told the news station.

“We did a really good job for the first 2-3 months in the pandemic in slowing the spread of the disease,” Burrows said. “Since the beginning of June, we have seen a rapid increase in the number of cases, and it’s concerning. It really seems to be everywhere.”

WebMD Health News Brief Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on June 29, 2020

Sources

Associated Press, “As cases surge in US, rural areas seeing increases as well.”

City of Kansas, Missouri, “Face coverings to be required indoors in KCMO.”

Johns Hopkins University, “COVID-19 United States Cases by County.”

The Daily Yonder, “Rural Counties Set Record for New Cases of COVID-19.”

WSAW, “COVID-19 cases reach highest new weekly count in Marathon County as cases climb in rural Wisconsin.”

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