North Carolina Rural Communities Seeing Rapid Growth in COVID-19 Cases

Raleigh, NC

Since September, new COVID-19 cases have been increasing faster in rural counties, according to a new report by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. 

“It’s particularly worrisome to see high rates of COVID spread in our rural counties as healthcare can be harder to access. Most rural hospitals are small, and some are already feeling stretched to their capacity limits,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, M.D. 

The report, which looks at data since the start of the pandemic, found that since September 2020: 

  • Nearly twice as many new cases have been reported from rural counties compared to urban or suburban counties.
  • The majority of cases in rural counties are increasingly white, non-Hispanic as compared with previous months. 
  • COVID-19 related deaths in rural counties also increased significantly, and account for the majority of deaths statewide compared with deaths in urban and suburban counties. 
  • Among deaths in rural counties, deaths among white, non-Hispanic and Black/African American cases have increased over time.
  • The majority of COVID-19 cases in rural communities are in people 49 years and younger.
  • The increase is being driven by community spread, not congregate living settings like nursing homes or jails.

The report can also be accessed at https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/dashboard/reports

North Carolinians can slow the spread of COVID-19 by practicing the 3Ws: Wearing a face mask whenever they are with others that do not live in their household, waiting 6 feet apart and avoiding crowds, and washing hands often. 

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