The localities with the highest infection rates are in black and gray, the lowest in green. There is no green on this map. Courtesy of The Daily Yonder.

Covid rates remain high, and are rising in Southwest Virginia while starting to fall in other parts of Virginia, according to the latest analysis of federal data by The Daily Yonder, a website that covers rural issues.

Each week the site produces an interactive map of covid rates for each locality in the country. Historically the rates have been highest in Southwest Virginia and lowest in the more urban parts of the state, which generally tracks with vaccination rates — with the highest infection rates in the places with the lowest vaccination rates, and vice versa. When the omicron variant first became to sweep over the country, that changed the picture. Urban areas got hit first and hardest. Now we’re starting to see the map return to previous trends, with the rates once again highest in Southwest Virginia.

For the week ending January 29, there were 10 localities with infection rates higher than 1,600 per 100,000 and all 10 were west of the Blue Ridge — and virus rates were rising in all of them.

The highest:

  1. Lexington 3,760.4, up from 3,357.5
  2. Norton 2,587.3, up from 2,336.1
  3. Galax 2,174.3, up from 2,158.5
  4. Bristol 2,141.7, up from 2,052.3
  5. Smyth County 1,996.4, up from 1,684.2
  6. Scott County 1,933.6, up from 1,660.0
  7. Bland County 1,910.0, up from 1799.4.
  8. Lee County 1733.3, up from 1,460.1
  9. Salem 1640.3, up from 1762.8
  10. Wise County 1637.1, up from 1,364.3

The localities with the lowest rates were more mixed. They included the biggest localities in Northern Viriginia — Fairfax County and Loudoun County — but also a lot of rural localities, including some from west of the Blue Ridge where otherwise rates are rising (Covingon, Rockbridge County and Floyd County). One oddity: Lexington, which has the state’s highest rates, is surrounded by Rockbridge County, which has one of the state’s lowest rates. These were the 13 localities with infection rates lower than 700 per 100,000 population.

  1. Fairfax (city) 245.6, down from 412.2
  2. Williamsburg 414.6, up from 401.2
  3. Covington 469.5, up from 451.4.
  4. Rappahannock County 502.0, up from 488.5
  5. Cumberland County 513.5, down from 654.5
  6. Emporia 542.5, down from 692.1
  7. Rockbridge County 567.0, up from .536.0
  8. Fairfax County 625.1, down from 920.5
  9. Mathews County 645.2, down from 1,267.8
  10. Loudoun County 651.0, down from 892.1
  11. Manassas 657.2, down from 1,263.2
  12. Lancaster County 660.2, down from 1,075.2
  13. Floyd County 660.4, down from 787.4

You can see The Daily Yonder’s interactive map here.