The coronavirus pandemic continues its deadly march through rural counties and small towns across the country, led by flareups in Southern and Midwestern states that are becoming new epicenters of the outbreak.

Almost 80 percent of Americans now live in counties where the virus is spreading widely,

by the Brookings Institution demographer William Frey. 

In the last week, 176 counties have started to see substantial spread of the virus. The vast majority of those, 159, are smaller exurban or rural counties. The increased transmission in those areas shows the virus's spread outward from its initial hubs in major cities like New York, Detroit, San Francisco, Seattle and New Orleans and into neighboring regions.

But the virus is also beginning to attack some cities that avoided an initial wave, a troubling reminder that it could still infect millions of Americans who have so far been safe.

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