Most (not all, there are noteworthy exceptions, see Ohio for example) of the so-called “red” states adopted a strategy of denial about the coronavirus. The bill for such a foible is coming true, and it will be a steep one, paid for in human lives as well as in dollars.
It’s tragic, because the line that big, dense cities are abnormally vulnerable to pandemics does have some truth to it, particularly in a world where cities tend to be ports of entry from foreign lands. The thing is, the advantages that rural areas have evaporates if they don’t make good use of their extra warning time to prepare.
We don’t live in a world where country-dwellers are mostly isolated anymore. The invention of the motor vehicle changed that. Rural people regularly drive to town for church, shopping, and other errands, interacting with numerous others.
The virus doesn’t care if it is passed from person to person in a small town or a big city. It took a while longer for infections to start getting reported from the more rural states, but here they are.
These later infections may even prove more lethal than the earlier big-city ones, for the simple reason that the best health care facilities are concentrated in the big cities. Those who get very ill in the hinterlands won’t have the same access to care.
The red states that are not sparsely-populated might be the worst off of all. Florida in particular seems to be a disaster in the making. Not only did you have a right-wing denialist government that refused to take the crisis seriously, you also had mobs of students congregating for Spring Break (without restrictions, thanks to that inept state government), and it all happened in a state with a huge concentration of elderly retirees.
Florida is also a barely-red state. (Obama won it twice.) The looming disaster there might prompt enough voters to politically recalculate that the Republicans will lose again this time.
A virus doesn’t care about your politics or your propaganda. It’s just hardwired to infect you.