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Small towns had lower COVID-19 death rates than inner cities and rural areas, CDC reports

Death rates from COVID-19 in 2020 were lower in smaller metropolitan areas than in inner cities and rural counties, according to government data released Tuesday.

In 2020, the age-adjusted death rate for COVID-19 was highest in major central metropolitan areas, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. In those counties, where more than a million people live within the same city limits, 97.7 out of 100,000 people have died from COVID.

That was 30% higher than mid-size metropolitan counties with 250,000 to 999,000 residents, where the rate of 75 deaths was lowest, according to a data note from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.

The CDC’s breakdown offers “more accurate analysis” of COVID death rates than a broad comparison of rural and urban areas, according to a summary of the findings.

“For both men and women, death rates were lowest in small urban areas, such as large fringe metropolitan areas and small or medium metropolitan areas,” the data summary states.

The CDC found that Americans of all ages and genders living in rural counties were more likely to die from COVID than those in most metropolitan areas.

In large outlying metropolitan counties where more than a million people live in the suburbs, the death rate was 79.9. It was 78.2 in small metropolitan areas with fewer than 250,000 people.

By comparison, the death rate in rural micropolitan counties of 10,000 to 50,000 people was 86.5. And in non-central rural counties with no city, town, or group of more than 10,000 people, the COVID death rate was 90.6.

Dr. William Schaffner, professor of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said the report confirms several studies showing higher COVID death rates in rural areas.

“Medical care is often further away in rural areas,” Dr. Schaffner said. “Furthermore, the age structure is often older and certain underlying medical conditions such as diabetes as well as lung and heart disease may be more common in rural areas.”

COVID vaccination rates have also been “significantly lower” in rural areas than in urban areas, he added.

Dr. Amesh A. Adalja, a senior researcher at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, said it was “difficult to draw strong conclusions” from the CDC report because rural areas traditionally have higher death rates.

“At the start of COVID-19, urban areas were the first to be affected and their hospitals were flooded,” said infectious disease specialist Dr Adalja. “It’s unclear why some rural areas also experienced high death rates in 2020, but it may be related to the prevalence of comorbidities, hospital density, or other variables.”

Dr. Panagis Galiatsatos, a physician at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, said the report shows the need for inner cities to stock up on face masks for future pandemics.

“Appropriate masks, when worn correctly, are effective against the spread,” Dr Galiatsatos said. “In urban areas, where some homes have multiple tenants or are multi-generational, allocating masks would help, especially since many people with COVID could not abide by the closures due to their occupation requiring them to come to work. .”

For more information, visit the Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.



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