Research Alert: May 1, 2020

Metropolitan/Nonmetropolitan COVID-19 Confirmed Cases and General and ICU Beds

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in rural areas of the U.S. continues to grow. This has sparked concern about the availability of health resources in rural communities to meet potentially increased care needs. This policy brief uses data on confirmed COVID-19 cases and data from the American Hospital Association annual survey to examine case incidence and hospital bed availability.

Approximately 23.2% of nonmetropolitan counties (total population of 4.7 million) have no general medical and surgical beds and had an average of 167.4 new daily COVID-19 cases in total between April 13, 2020, and April 19, 2020. Nearly 61.1% of nonmetropolitan counties (total population of 16.4 million) have no medical/surgical ICU beds and had an average of 504.9 new daily COVID-19 cases in total during the same time period. Nonmetropolitan counties with ICU beds had an average of 0.19 new daily COVID-19 cases during this time, which using "worst case" estimates of ICU admission rates and length of stay, should be sufficient to meet needs. But these same parameters show that there are 56 nonmetropolitan counties at risk of exceeding their ICU bed capacity.

Contact Information:

Keith J. Mueller, PhD
RUPRI Center for Rural Health Policy Analysis
Phone: 319.384.3832

Additional Resources of Interest: