- Traveling Nurses Help Rural Hospital Staffing Issues, But at a Cost
- Rural Americans Share Personal Stories to Inspire Confidence in COVID-19 Vaccines in Local Communities and Nationwide
- Study Finds Family Physicians Deliver Babies in Majority of Rural Hospitals
- State of Decay: Rural Areas in America Are at a Tooth Loss
- Rural Covid Infections Decline for Third Straight Week
- Rural U.S. Hospitals Stretched Thin After Nurse Shortage Exacerbated by the Pandemic
- New Vaccinations in Rural Counties Decline for Second Week
- CMS Clarifies Medicare Recognition of Interstate Licensure Compacts
- Making History, Despite History: The First Tribally Affiliated Med School Takes Flight in Oklahoma
- COVID-19 Cases and Deaths by Race/Ethnicity: Current Data and Changes Over Time
- The Surge of Telehealth During the Pandemic is Exacerbating Urban-Rural Disparities in Access to Mental Health Care
- Rural Infections Decline by 20%; Number of Covid Deaths Falls Slightly
- Rate of New Vaccinations Falls by 20%
- Telehealth has Rapidly Expanded. But Companies are Still Struggling to Reach Rural Populations
- Covid Is Killing Rural Americans at Twice the Rate of Urbanites
By Tim Murphy and Tim Marema
Rural areas now account for a disproportionately large share of new infections and deaths. Read more here.
By Jefferson Sinclair
“There are things we want to pay for as a country so we can have a country,” says a passenger rail advocate. Read more here.
By Alex Brown
While fire season picks up steam, wildfire crews are implementing new strategies to stave off the coronavirus. Some of the new measures could become a new standard beyond the pandemic. Read more here.
By Alex Brown
Programs that route surplus food to food pantries are helping some farmers stay in business during the pandemic. Read more here.
By James Branscome
A collection of essays, excerpts, songs, and poems covers centuries of reflection on the Southern mountains. A native son traces the history of Appalachian literature through 745 pages of a recently published anthology. Read more here.
By April Simpson
Pandemic put a temporary stop to a long tradition of county fairs, putting the survival of many on the line. Read more here.
Becker’s Hospital Review reported on the 14 rural hospitals that have closed this year. It is worth noting that eight closures occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, a time when access to health care services is more important than ever before. Additionally, local reporting in Georgia confirms that two more rural hospitals are slated for closure in October. Last year set the record for the greatest number of rural hospital closures in a single year at 18; 2020 is on pace to smash that record.
Kaiser Health News provided reporting on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on rural hospital closures. Sarah Jane Tribble writes, “As COVID-19 continues to spread, an increasing number of rural communities find themselves without their hospital or on the brink of losing already cash-strapped facilities.” The article also quotes UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health professor Mark Holmes, who says, “We know that a [rural hospital] closure leads to higher mortality pretty quickly…That’s pretty clear.”
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will extend several flexibilities through as late as December 31, 2020. The flexibilities allow summer meal program operators to continue serving free meals to all children into the fall months. This unprecedented move will help ensure – no matter what the situation is on-the-ground – children have access to nutritious food as the country recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. USDA has been and continues to be committed to using the Congressionally appropriated funding that has been made available.
Since the start of the public health emergency, FNS has been maximizing existing program services and flexibilities to ensure those in need have access to food through our 15 federal nutrition assistance programs. To date, USDA has provided more than 3,000 flexibilities across these programs. USDA has also leveraged new and innovative approaches to feeding kids, including a public-private partnership that provided nearly 40 million meals directly to the doorsteps of low-income rural children. For more information on FNS’ response to COVID-19, visit fns.usda.gov/coronavirus.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and Lt. Governor John Fetterman called on the legislature to take up the legalization of adult-use cannabis to help with the state’s economic recovery amid COVID-19. Legalization will also create more outlets for important restorative justice programs in the commonwealth.
“Now more than ever, we see a desperate need for the economic boost cannabis legalization can provide. So today I am proposing we legalize adult-use cannabis here in Pennsylvania with a portion of the revenue going toward existing small business grants,” Gov. Wolf said. “Half of these grants would be earmarked for historically disadvantaged businesses, many of which have had difficulties attaining other assistance because of systemic issues.
“The other portion of the revenue will go toward restorative justice programs that give priority to repairing the harm done to crime victims and communities as a result of cannabis criminalization.”
Lt. Governor Fetterman elaborated on the need for legislative action to provide for much-needed restorative justice.
“It has been nearly a year since Governor Wolf and I urged the legislature to act on immediate decriminalization and start the discussion about legalization,” Lt. Governor Fetterman said. “Now more than ever, we must stop prosecuting people for doing something that most Pennsylvanians don’t even think should be illegal.”
The governor also mentioned the economic benefits states with legal adult-use cannabis have realized. There are now 11 states plus the District of Columbia with legalized cannabis.
“Some states that have legalized adult-use cannabis have received millions in additional revenue,” Gov. Wolf said. “In Washington state, adult-use cannabis brought in $319 million in tax revenue in 2018. In Colorado, that figure topped $266 million, and provided the city of Aurora with $900,000 to open a space for people experiencing homelessness. And these figures don’t count the secondary economic benefits of new businesses opening.”
“Communities across our commonwealth are suffering,” said Sen. Sharif Street, who joined the governor and the lt. governor at the event. “Government has a responsibility to provide for and protect Pennsylvanians without cutting vital support systems or levying new taxes during a pandemic. After years of disparate enforcement of marijuana laws, which drives mass incarceration, social justice reform must be central to any policy on adult use. I’m proud to support Governor Wolf in this effort.”
The governor, with the realization that standing up a legalized adult-use cannabis program will take time, called on the legislature to take immediate action to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, changing the charge from a misdemeanor of the third degree, which can result in jail time, to a summary offense, which does not.
“I stand with the Governor and Lt. Governor in support of legislation legalizing adult-use cannabis because this issue is about far more than money,” said Rep. Jake Wheatley. “This is about criminal and social justice reform and righting past wrongs. It is about creating a flourishing new industry to help keep people safe and educate them on responsible use. Especially during a pandemic, we need to provide every avenue for relief and this one is well overdue.”
The governor and lt. governor first called on the legislature to consider adult-use cannabis legalization in September 2019 after the lt. governor completed a statewide listening tour and a report back to the governor summarizing public opinion both on the tour and from tens of thousands of online submissions from Pennsylvanians. The majority of Pennsylvanians favor legalization and from the lt. governor’s report, three actions were outlined: a referendum on legalization, decriminalization and expungement of small possession convictions.
Since that report was released, nothing has moved forward in the legislature.
With the onset and continued effects of COVID on our commonwealth, on Aug. 25, Gov. Wolf called for adult-use cannabis as part of his broad fall legislative agenda.
Along with the call to the General Assembly to pass legislation legalizing the sale and use of adult-use cannabis, Gov. Wolf proposed that a portion of the revenue be used to further restorative justice programs that give priority to repairing the harm done to crime victims and communities as a result of marijuana criminalization.
In October 2019, Gov. Wolf, Lt. Gov. Fetterman and Board of Pardons Secretary Brandon Flood outlined how the then-recent expedited pardons process could benefit those who have low-level marijuana convictions by asking the Board to expedite those pardons. However, the governor and lt. governor know there is more to be done.
“The time has come to legalize adult-use cannabis in Pennsylvania,” Gov. Wolf said. “It will help our economic recovery, it will help Pennsylvania families and it will help make our criminal justice system fairer.”