New Rural Hot Spots are ICU Bed Deserts, Study Finds 

More than half of rural low-income communities in the United States have zero ICU beds, so many hospitals are having to transfer patients to wealthier urban facilities. Using Medicare data, Health Affairs researchers found that nearly 49 percent of all low-income areas did not have ICU beds. This gap exists across rural and urban settings, but it is far worse in rural America. Many hospitals have either converted regular beds to ICU beds or have had to rely on transfers to facilities with more resources. Poorer access to care and higher percentages of chronic health conditions increases the risk posed by COVID-19 in rural America. During a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Thursday, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) warned that problems with supply chains and disparities in access to care in rural areas could further exacerbate racial disparities as well.