Research Alert: July 5, 2023

Spatial Clustering of COVID-19 Mortality Rates Across Counties and by Noncore, Micropolitan, and Metropolitan County Characteristics, December 2020–January 2021

This policy brief examines spatial clusters of COVID-19 mortality rates across counties in the United States between December 2020 and January 2021. Between December 2020 and January 2021, COVID-19 deaths were at their peak, hospital capacity was stretched, and COVID-19 vaccines were not widely available, making this a critical time period to examine.

Key Findings:

  • Spatial clusters of high COVID-19 mortality rates occurred in Iowa, South Dakota, Kansas, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Arizona.
  • A higher percentage of clusters of high COVID-19 mortality rates were in noncore and micropolitan counties compared to metropolitan counties.
  • High COVID-19 mortality cluster counties tended to have higher average percentages of Hispanic populations, particularly in micropolitan counties.
  • Noncore counties that were high COVID-19 mortality clusters had the highest average nursing home bed density and the highest average proportion of Medicare beneficiaries with multiple chronic conditions.
Contact Information:

Whitney E. Zahnd, PhD
RUPRI Center for Rural Health Policy Analysis

Additional Resources of Interest: