Half of all states are reporting increases in new COVID-19 cases, and several are setting new records for new daily cases reported, including rural states such as Montana and South Dakota. Unfortunately, many of these increases are being driven by small towns in rural America, where there is limited access to health care resources. According to an NPR analysis, one fifth of the first 100,000 COVID-19 deaths were outside of large metro areas, whereas rural deaths accounted for nearly half of the second 100,000 COVID-19 deaths. On a per-capita basis, the most rural counties are facing their worst spikes of the pandemic to date; based on a rolling seven-day average, there are around 19.5 daily cases per 100,000 residents in America’s most rural counties. From Bloomberg Government (subscription required):
Rural providers are on the frontline of the pandemic facing new spikes in COVID-19 cases, and they need relief and support. NRHA understands that negotiations on further COVID-19 relief have halted abruptly, but it is important that Congress recognize that rural America’s fight against COVID-19 is currently at its height. Record high numbers of new COVID-19 cases and deaths in rural America coupled with a lack of facilities and supplies is a recipe for disaster. Rural America needs Congress’s help today, and NRHA is continuing to ask Congress to act on behalf of rural America to help patients and providers survive the pandemic.