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COVID-19 Death Rates Are Higher In NC’s Rural Counties. Here’s Why.

Charts and graphs of COVID-19 surveillance reports
Hertford County Government

Though COVID-19 struck North Carolina’s suburban and urban communities earliest, the virus has begun to sweep through the state’s rural communities at an alarming rate. 

According to recent reporting in The Charlotte Observer, about 33 of every 100,0000 residents in the state’s 80 rural counties had died from the coronavirus as of Sept. 9. Their reporting found the rates of death per 100,000 as 26 in suburban counties and 24 in urban counties. Among the factors that may be contributing to this are inconsistent mask-wearing, large social gatherings, difficulty in procuring COVID-19 testing and both residents’ distance from hospitals and hospitals’ lack of resources to treat advanced COVID-19 cases. Ames Alexander, investigative reporter for The Charlotte Observer, joins host Frank Stasio to discuss what he found digging into what is happening in rural counties.

Stacia Brown comes to WUNC from Washington, DC, where she was a producer for WAMU’s daily news radio program, 1A. She’s the creator and host of two podcasts, The Rise of Charm City and Hope Chest. Her audio projects have been featured on Scene on Radio, a podcast of the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University; BBC 4’s Short Cuts; and American Public Radio’s Terrible, Thanks for Asking.
Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.
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