After sweeping through coastal cities, the coronavirus outbreak is now being felt in rural America.
Tell me more.
As urban areas like NYC, Seattle, and LA are nearing or have hit their peak, COVID-19 infections have started to grow in small farming and manufacturing towns across the US. More than two-thirds of rural counties have reported at least one known COVID-19 case. And one in 10 are reporting at least one death. Those numbers are only expected to grow.
By how much?
Exponentially. Which is coming as an unwelcome surprise to residents of these small communities. Some believed their town’s isolation and remote lifestyle would protect them. But this virus spreads quickly and with travel between urban and rural areas, the spread of the virus was inevitable. It also hasn’t helped that as many as eight states have yet to impose a stay-at-home order.
The problem is that these growing infections have put rural America in a dangerous situation. Rural areas tend to have an older and poorer population. And older residents are more likely to have underlying conditions (think: high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease) – putting them more at risk of falling severely ill from COVID-19. Many also lack health insurance or access to proper medical help. Since the beginning of the outbreak, rural hospitals have had to postpone nonessential surgeries or procedures and have lost a critical source of income. Some of them have been forced to close. Just like the rest of the country, these hospitals are also suffering a shortage of PPE, ventilators, and medical staff.
As bad as the coronavirus has hit some major US cities, the fear now is that it could hit rural communities even worse. But there’s hope that the slow spread to these communities has provided them with more time to prepare.