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Utah's rural residents have reason to take COVID precautions

Posted at 5:55 PM, Aug 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-03 19:55:05-04

SALT LAKE CITY — The White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, Dr. Deborah Birx, made headlines on Sunday.

She wanted to alert people who might feel like COVID-19 was less of a problem because they didn't live in the city.

“What we're seeing today is different from March and April. It is extraordinarily widespread. It’s into the rural, as well as urban areas,” Birx said in an interview on CNN’s State of the Union.

To test that in Utah, we first found that the U.S. Census Bureau shows six urban areas in six Utah Counties: Cache, Weber, Salt Lake, Utah and Washington.

We used that to track the percentage of urban and rural cases in Utah since March.

In the chart below, the red line is at 15 percent, which is the percentage of the population living in rural counties.

The brown column shows the percentage of new cases each week in rural areas.

Early in the pandemic, the statistics reflect early outbreaks in Summit and Wasatch Counties. They were part of a larger early trend of winter resorts getting “seeded” with the virus.

After that, you can see that Utah’s rural residents are not quite as likely as city folk to come down with the virus, but they are somewhat close: hovering in recent weeks around 9-10 percent of total cases.