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A deadly 'checkerboard': Covid-19′s new surge across rural AmericaThe novel coronavirus arrived in an Indiana farm town mid-planting season and took root faster than the fields of seed corn, infecting hundreds and killing dozens. It tore though a pork processing plant and spread outward in a desolate stretch of the Oklahoma Panhandle. And in Colorado's sparsely populated eastern plains, the virus erupted in a nursing home and a pair of factories, burning through the crowded quarters of immigrant workers and a vulnerable elderly population. As the death toll nears 100,000, the disease caused by the virus has made a fundamental shift in who it touches and where it reaches in America, according to a Washington Post analysis of case data and interviews with public health professionals in several states. The pandemic that first struck in major metropolises is now increasingly finding its front line in the country's rural areas; counties with acres of farmland, cramped meatpacking plants, out-of-the-way prisons and few hospital beds. In these areas, where 60 million Americans live, populations are poorer, older and more prone to health problems such as diabetes and obesity than those of urban areas. They include immigrants and the undocumented - the "essential" workers who have kept the country's sprawling food industry running, but who rarely have the luxury of taking time off for illness. Many of these communities are isolated and hard to reach. They were largely spared from the disease shutting down their states - until, suddenly, they weren't. Rural counties now have some of the highest rates of covid-19 cases and deaths in the country, topping even the hardest-hit New York City boroughs and signaling a new phase of the pandemic - one of halting, scattered outbreaks that could devastate still more of America's most vulnerable towns as states lift stay-at-home orders. "It is coming,...