Getting Health Care was Already Tough in Rural Areas, and the Pandemic has Made it Worse

October 16, 2020 by Christen Aldrich

Filed under COVID-19 for Employers, COVID-19 for the Workforce

Last modified October 19, 2020

This article from NPR explains the challenges that residents of rural areas face in receiving decent health care, and how the pandemic has exacerbated it. Even before the pandemic, the health care systems that serve rural Americans were in decline: rural hospitals were closing their doors, and the medical workforce was declining rapidly. This year, as the coronavirus outbreak has made its way from major cities to rural America, threats to the rural health care infrastructure have only increased.

A new nationwide poll conducted by NPR shows one in every four rural U.S households have been unable to get medical care for serious problems. Among those households that had trouble getting care, more than half reported that a family member experienced negative health consequences as a result.

New coronavirus infections in rural America are now at record levels, with 54% of rural counties in the “red zone,” defined as places with an infection rate of 100 or more new cases per 100,000 residents. “The crisis is really widening the fractures that have already existed in rural communities,” says Brock Slabach, senior vice president of the National Rural Health Association.

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