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COVID-19 Mortality Rate Continues To Rise In Rural Oklahoma

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The COVID-19 mortality rate continues to be higher in rural parts of the state than urban areas, according to analysis of state data by the Oklahoma State University Center for Rural Health. Rural areas make up 34% of Oklahoma’s population but account for 36% of all COVID-19 deaths in the state since April.

As of Sept. 11, the cumulative mortality is about 24 per 100,000 people in rural areas. This is slightly higher than urban areas.

Randolph Hubach, an associate professor of rural health at OSU, said the difference between rural and urban mortality rates is important.

“There's about a two per hundred thousand difference, which seems small, but it is still quite notable,” Hubach said. “Thinking about how this is being exacerbated with the number of new cases, how health infrastructure might be overburdened.”

Hubach said unless social distancing and mask mandates are taking place, the mortality rate will continue to increase.

“In order to decrease the mortality rate, we really have to decrease just the rate of COVID within our entire community,” Hubach said.

Seth Bodine was KOSU's agriculture and rural issues reporter from June 2020 to February 2022.
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