In a new story for The Daily Yonder, Liz Carey and Tim Marema investigate exactly why the rural mortality rate from COVID-19 is so much higher than the urban/metro rate in America. A lower rate of vaccination isn’t the only reason; pre-existing conditions, reluctance to follow social-distancing measures, and low capacity at local health care facilities also have an effect on rural COVID deaths.

From the story: “Raising the rural vaccination rate to the metropolitan rate would have resulted in 5.7 million additional completed vaccinations in rural America. The CDC estimates that unvaccinated Americans are dying of Covid-19 at a rate 14 times higher than vaccinated Americans.

But lower vaccination rates aren’t the only factor in rural America’s Covid-19 deaths. Behavioral factors are also part of the cause, Henning-Smith said.

“We know that rural residents have been, for a variety of reasons, less likely to adhere to preventive measures,” she said. “They’re less likely to wear masks or socially distance.”

A study earlier this year found that rural residents were less likely to observe public health measures to combat Covid-19. They were less likely to limit the number of people they allow in their homes, less likely to wear a mask in indoor public places, and less likely to maintain social distancing, according to a report from McKinsey, a management consulting firm.”

As the new Omicron COVID variant makes its way through the winter months, its not how many more rural Americans will die of COVID, but when.

To read the rest of the story on the Yonder, click here.

To see the related article with all the data, click here.