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Rural NC Warned Of Critical COVID-19 Community Spread

A map of North Carolina's counties, each county  is color coded for their community spread of COVID-19. Light yellow represents a significant community spread, orange represents a substantial community spread, and red represents the most critical spread
NC Counties categorized by tier of community spread. Data from November 6-19, 2020

While North Carolina’s urban centers were the sites of COVID-19 concern in March and April, the more sparsely populated parts of the state are now facing the highest rates of community spread of the coronavirus. Today, clusters of infection remain centered in the state’s urban centers, but broader community transmission is increasingly common outside the cities.

Based on data from the first half of November, Durham, Wake, New Hanover and Mecklenburg counties are all classified yellow, in the lowest tier of risk in the state county alert system. Meanwhile, the color-coded county map warns of critical community spread in more rural areas like Bertie, Vance, Hoke, Robeson, Wilkes and Swain counties, all painted red. That classification system is determined through a combination of three metrics: case rate, percent of positive tests and local hospital impact. Host Anita Rao and reporter Jay Price discuss how workplace hazards and fatigue are affecting rural counties. Price is WUNC’s military and veterans affairs reporter.

A graph showing rural deaths related to COVID-19 spiking beginning in August and continuing to make up more of the overall state caseload into mid-October
Credit NC DHHS
Leading up to the holidays, rural areas already comprised an outsized proportion of positive cases. That trend has worsened, with rural areas making up twice as many new cases as urban and suburban areas.

Grant Holub-Moorman coordinates events and North Carolina outreach for WUNC, including a monthly trivia night. He is a founding member of Embodied and a former producer for The State of Things.
Anita Rao is an award-winning journalist and the host and creator of "Embodied," a weekly radio show and podcast about sex, relationships & health. She's also the managing editor of WUNC's on-demand content.
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