Administrative Publication No. (AP-107) 25 pp

November 2022

COVID-19 Working Paper: Migration, Local Mobility, and the Spread of COVID-19 in Rural America

Coronavirus (COVID-19) infections were first detected in the United States on January 20, 2020, and quickly spread across the country. Despite numerous efforts, the virus spread between and within locations, and the pace and severity were uneven across space. This working paper examines how movement between and within communities was linked to the initial arrival and spread of COVID-19 infections into and through nonmetropolitan (nonmetro) counties. Understanding the geographical dimensions of the COVID-19 pandemic is important for informing effective policy responses when facing similar public health crises in the future. The findings suggest that in the absence of medical interventions (e.g., vaccines and treatment), limiting movement between and within places may slow the spread of highly contagious viruses, and certain types of places may be less able to implement these nonmedical tactics and may therefore be at greater risk in future pandemics.

Keywords: Coronavirus, COVID-19, migration, local mobility, urban-rural hierarchy

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