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Rural Response to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) – News

News stories from the past 60 days.

Mar 3, 2021 - Describes the difficulties experienced by students and teachers when participating in remote education during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly in rural and low-income communities where adequate internet service is scarce. Highlights efforts in Mississippi to address these challenges and engage students in the remote learning environment.
Source: Stateline, Pew Charitable Trusts
Mar 3, 2021 - Discusses how rural counties, mostly between the Mississippi River and the Rocky Mountains, have few pharmacies that can give COVID-19 vaccines, which threatens to prolong the pandemic in many hard-hit rural regions. Without independent pharmacies, health departments may be overwhelmed as the vaccine is opened to the public and the demand increases.
Source: Kaiser Health News
Mar 2, 2021 - Features counties that implemented transportation services to help residents get the COVID-19 vaccine, including a rural county in New York that provides residents with a free, on-demand ride service. Discusses how these initiatives reduce transportation barriers and encourage residents to receive the vaccine.
Source: National Association of Counties
Mar 2, 2021 - Analyzes new COVID-19 infection rates by county between February 21-27, 2021, finding a plateau in improvement in rural counties and a slight increase in new cases in metropolitan counties. Discusses how the extreme weather in the south could potentially skew data reporting. Includes data on COVID-related deaths and additional findings.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Mar 2, 2021 - Analyzes COVID-19 vaccination rates in rural America, finds that in 17 of 24 states analyzed, the rate of people who have received their first dose shot in rural areas is as good or better than the rate in metropolitan areas. Discusses potential advantages for increased distribution in rural areas, including fewer competing systems, smaller populations, and close relationships.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Mar 2, 2021 - Blog post highlights questions rural hospitals should explore to transform traditional approaches to workforce development after the COVID-19 pandemic. Recommends organizations look to online workforce development initiatives and consider different types of programs, program design and development, and program incentives for students.
Source: National Rural Health Association
Mar 1, 2021 - The Census Bureau is extending the comment period of a November 19, 2020, Federal Register notice seeking comments on a new information collection called the Management and Organizational Practices Survey — Hospitals (MOPS-HP). The survey will be used to collect data on management practices from chief nursing officers (CNOs) at general medical and surgical hospitals in an effort to identify factors affecting clinical and financial performance. The Census Bureau modified the survey proposal in order to obtain a better understanding of how hospitals have adjusted operations during the COVID-19 public health emergency and measure hospital preparedness. Comments are due within 30 days of this notice.
Source: Federal Register
Mar 1, 2021 - Summarizes a report by the American Hospital Association that found hospitals and healthcare systems will lose between $53 and $122 billion in revenue in 2021, mainly due to COVID-19 and reduced patient volumes. Describes how financial challenges for rural hospitals are worse and discusses the need for additional federal assistance to support these health systems.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Feb 27, 2021 - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) allowing the Janssen COVID-19 vaccine to be distributed in the U.S for use in individuals 18 years of age and older. The third vaccine is administered as a single dose and the authorization of its use expands the availability of vaccines to combat COVID-19.
Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Feb 26, 2021 - The Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund announces the availability of awards up to $5 million to Certified Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) to support, prepare for, and respond to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic through the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund (CDFI Fund) CDFI Rapid Response Program (CDFI RRP). Applications are due by March 25, 2021. The deadline to contact program staff is March 23, 2021; and the deadline to contact the Awards Management Information System-IT (AMIS-IT) help desk is March 25, 2021.
Source: Federal Register
Feb 26, 2021 - Notice from the Executive Office of the President continuing the COVID-19 pandemic national emergency declared in Proclamation 9994 of March 13, 2020, beyond March 1, 2021.
Source: Federal Register
Feb 26, 2021 - Summarizes research that tracks public attitude and experience with COVID-19 vaccinations as of February 2021. Key findings report that 55% of U.S. adults either have received at least one dose of the vaccine or say they will get it as soon as possible. Describes COVID-19 vaccine enthusiasm by age, rurality, and race and ethnicity, as well as other demographics.
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation
Feb 25, 2021 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced its investment of $42.3 million to help rural residents gain access to healthcare and educational opportunities. Funding is provided to 86 projects through the Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) grant program and will help bolster remote access to healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
Feb 25, 2021 - Opinion article discussing an index that assesses barriers to determine county-level readiness for mass vaccination. The index is based on 28 indicators that are grouped into five categories: historic undervaccination, socioeconomic barriers, low healthcare resources, poor healthcare access, and irregular medical care. Highlights other challenges and concerns that can impact vaccination efforts in rural populations.
Source: New York Times
Feb 24, 2021 - The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is seeking comments on an information collection request for continued approval of the Rural Health Clinic (RHC) COVID-19 Testing Program Data Collection. Comments are due by March 26, 2021.
Source: Federal Register
Feb 23, 2021 - Features Project ECHO, a telementoring program created by a gastroenterologist in New Mexico, that connects specialists with physicians in rural areas and those working at state prisons to treat cases of hepatitis C through remote sessions. Describes how the program expanded to treat other health conditions in various states and adapted to address challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Source: High Country News
Feb 23, 2021 - Analyzes new COVID-19 infection and death rates between February 14-20, 2021 and finds that the number of COVID-related deaths in rural America dropped by a third, the most significant decline in the rural death rate in more than a month. Additionally, the rate of new infections last week fell by about 30 percent in both metropolitan and rural counties.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Feb 23, 2021 - The Small Business Administration (SBA) is seeking comments on a new application form to collect the necessary information to implement the Targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Advance authority. The Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits, and Venues Act authorized additional funds to the SBA to provide Targeted EIDL Advances to eligible entities that previously received an EIDL Advance of less than $10,000; entities that previously applied for a COVID-EIDL, but did not receive an EIDL Advance because there were no funds available; and to new COVID-EIDL applicants, subject to the availability of funds. Comments are due by April 26, 2021.
Source: Federal Register
Feb 22, 2021 - Describes how pharmacists, and other healthcare providers, with the Indian Health Service (IHS) have worked to vaccinate American Indian and Alaskan Native populations while prioritizing tribal elders and fluent speakers of native languages to preserve their culture. Includes discussion on vaccine distribution in tribal communities and methods used to address vaccine hesitancy.
Source: American Society of Hospital Pharmacists
Feb 22, 2021 - Blog post features a healthcare worker in rural Nebraska and discusses how the COVID-19 vaccine brings hope to rural communities. Addresses vaccine hesitation and recommends individuals find trustworthy and reputable resources to research the vaccine and decide whether or not to get vaccinated.
Source: Center for Rural Affairs
Feb 21, 2021 - Covers the winter storm in Texas in mid-February of 2021 and its unique impact on rural communities in the state. Describes how rural areas experienced lower temperatures and often have fewer services spread across a larger area. Discusses how many living in rural areas are farmers and ranchers that also had to prioritize livestock during the storm.
Source: Texas Tribune
Feb 19, 2021 - The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announces five Emergency Use Authorizations for drugs and biological products for use during the COVID-19 pandemic. These authorizations are effective on their date of issuance.
Source: Federal Register
Feb 19, 2021 - The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released several guidance documents related to the COVID-19 public health emergency. These guidances have been implemented without prior comment but are subject to comment per FDA policies. Includes details on how to submit comments and indicates that there is no deadline for comments.
Source: Federal Register
Feb 19, 2021 - Highlights efforts by healthcare workers to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine to veterans in rural and hard-to-reach areas across the country. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) sent doses by plane to rural Montana and partnered with tribal healthcare organizations to reach veterans in rural Alaska.
Source: Kaiser Health News
Feb 19, 2021 - Highlights Rosebud Sioux Tribe's COVID-19 vaccine rollout efforts in South Dakota and their decision to receive the vaccines from the Indian Health Service (IHS) instead of the state. Discusses how the IHS centralized system has aided in distribution across Indian Country.
Source: NPR
Feb 18, 2021 - Blog post discusses opioid use and misuse during pregnancy and the resulting health consequences for mothers and infants, barriers to care for pregnant and postpartum women with opioid use disorder (OUD), and how the COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating challenges. Describes the disparities that exist in rural areas and recommends policies that increase access to virtual care, OUD treatment, and Medicaid coverage.
Source: Health Affairs
Feb 18, 2021 - The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated financial issues for rural hospitals, leaving many in less populated regions at risk for closing. Discusses how federal support and other financial aid has enabled rural hospitals to continue operating, but experts fear that the support could obscure the dire financial picture many of them face.
Source: CBS News
Feb 18, 2021 - Reports that 10 western states had an increase in drug overdose deaths in 2020, particularly in rural counties. Discusses how the COVID-19 pandemic has compounded stress and interrupted substance use disorder treatment services. Recommends increased access to Naloxone and funding to implement prevention and treatment strategies.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Feb 17, 2021 - Features Scott Santibañez, an infectious disease physician with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Describes that while aiding in the fight against COVID-19 at the Hoopa Valley Tribe in California, the reservation also had to fight widespread wildfires, and thankfully with the tribe leading the response, they were able to tackle both disasters.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Feb 17, 2021 - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced new actions to expand COVID-19 testing capacity across the country, including for schools and underserved populations. Actions also include increasing the domestic manufacturing of testing supplies and raw materials and increasing genomic sequencing of the virus to better prepare for the threat of variants.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Feb 17, 2021 - While the nation's focus shifted to rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, a rural hospital in Louisiana struggled to handle a surge of COVID patients after the holidays. Examines health disparities present in rural communities and describes the burnout healthcare workers are experiencing after months of pandemic stress.
Source: Kaiser Health News
Feb 17, 2021 - Rural transit systems reported over a 50 percent decrease in ridership since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and experience difficulties restoring ridership. Describes how public transit drivers are often part of high-risk groups and that they should be prioritized for the COVID-19 vaccine as it is a high-exposure job.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Feb 17, 2021 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development has taken actions to help rural communities and businesses affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. Provides a list of opportunities for immediate relief, including the Rural Housing, Rural Utilities, and Rural Business-Cooperative Services. Items with an asterisk are new or updated as of February 16, 2021.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
Feb 16, 2021 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced an extension of eviction and foreclosure moratoriums on USDA Single Family Housing Direct and Guaranteed loans through June 30, 2021. This action extends relief to rural Americans with USDA housing loans that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
Feb 16, 2021 - Highlights researchers who are working on reducing transmission of the COVID-19 virus and increasing COVID-19 testing on the Navajo Nation. Details the study, which is part of the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics Underserved Populations (RADxSM-UP) program and explores two different ways of encouraging people to get COVID-19 testing.
Source: National Institutes of Health
Feb 16, 2021 - Notice of amendment from the Department of Health and Human Services extending limited liability protections to any Federal government employee, contractor, or volunteer who prescribes, administers, delivers, distributes, or dispenses COVID-19 vaccines or other COVID-19 medical countermeasures. This amendment is effective February 16, 2021.
Source: Federal Register
Feb 16, 2021 - Analyzes new COVID-19 infection rates in the U.S. between February 7-13, 2021. Finds that while the number of new infections in rural counties fell to the lowest level since October 2020, COVID-related deaths grew slightly. Includes a county map of COVID-19 infection rates, as well as data on the weekly rates of new deaths and new infections since June 2020.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Feb 15, 2021 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced that the Special Enrollment Period (SEP) for the Health Insurance Marketplace is available for consumers of 36 states from February 15-May 15, 2021. This announcement is in accordance with the Executive Order signed by President Biden to allow those impacted by the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency to enroll in health insurance.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Feb 15, 2021 - Features a rural health system in Upstate New York that is participating in clinical trials for Operation Warp Speed to test treatments for COVID-19. Describes how having clinical trials in rural hospitals helps to reduce disparities between rural and urban hospitals and increase trust in rural communities.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Feb 12, 2021 - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force will hold a virtual public meeting on February 26, 2021 from 3:00 – 5:00 p.m. Eastern. The confirmed time and agenda will be published on the Office of Minority Health website. Pre-registration for the meeting is required by February 24, 2021.
Source: Federal Register
Feb 11, 2021 - Analysis of employment rates in 2020 finds that the nation shed jobs in November and December, reversing gains in employment made in the late spring after the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Rural areas had over three percent fewer jobs in December 2020 compared to December 2019, but major metropolitan areas experienced the most job losses in 2020.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Feb 11, 2021 - Commentary discusses how people of color account for a disproportionate share of coronavirus infections, hospitalizations, and deaths, but are not being prioritized in COVID-19 vaccine rollout efforts. Describes how people of color are more likely to live in overcrowded multigenerational households, which increases risk of infection.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Feb 11, 2021 - The U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) organized a private charter plane to deliver 400 COVID-19 vaccines for high-risk veterans in remote Montana. VA staff from four different locations helped to plan the mass vaccination event and distribute the vaccines to rural veterans.
Source: U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs
Feb 10, 2021 - Highlights efforts by rural providers to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine to isolated seniors across rural North Carolina, including organizing drive-thru vaccine clinics and utilizing phone trees to inform residents of vaccination events. Addresses challenges in vaccine distribution, such as lack of supply, storage requirements, and transportation barriers.
Source: North Carolina Health News
Feb 10, 2021 - Provides an overview of a study that found nearly half of rural hospitals are operating in the red with 450 facilities at risk of closing their doors. Describes how the COVID-19 pandemic has further destabilized the rural health system, as outpatient services were suspended for months resulting in financial losses for many rural hospitals.
Source: Fierce Healthcare
Feb 10, 2021 - Analyzes new COVID-19 infection rates between January 31-February 6, 2021. Found a decline in new infections in rural areas for the fourth week in a row, but a slight increase in COVID-related deaths. Reports other key findings comparing rural and urban death rates, red-zone county classifications, and test positivity rates.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Feb 9, 2021 - Features stories of successful COVID-19 vaccination efforts in tribal communities across the country. Describes how tribes utilized phones to answer inquiries and book appointments, as well as social media, radio, and direct mail to get the word out. Explains how tribes prioritized elders in distribution efforts and addresses vaccine hesitation within Indian Country.
Source: Stateline, Pew Charitable Trusts
Feb 9, 2021 - Features Sky Lakes Medical Center in Oregon that serves rural residents across a 10,000 square mile area. In January, the small facility hit capacity caring for COVID-19 patients. Describes the continuous toll that the COVID-19 pandemic has on healthcare workers and resources.
Source: Oregon Public Broadcasting
Feb 8, 2021 - Highlights efforts by public health workers to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine in rural and remote communities across the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California. Discusses how the inclement weather, vaccine hesitation, and vaccine storage requirements pose challenges.
Source: Kaiser Health News
Feb 8, 2021 - Highlights innovative ways Native Americans have continued sharing their culture despite physical distancing restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Features a social media group that has helped over 227,000 members connect through sharing videos of drumming, dancing, and other traditions.
Source: CNN
Feb 8, 2021 - Addresses disparities in COVID-19 infection rates, hospitalizations, and vaccination rates among communities of color. Highlights how state efforts to collect and analyze trends in race and ethnicity data, in conjunction with support from the federal government, can guide decision making and promote the implementation of concrete strategies to reduce disparities.
Source: National Academy for State Health Policy
Feb 5, 2021 - Analyzes COVID-19 cases across the U.S. finding the highest infection rates in rural communities, specifically the Native American Lands, LDS Enclaves, and Aging Farmlands. Early on in the pandemic, urban areas had higher rates of infection. Discusses the factors that could have contributed to the increased infection rates in rural and sparsely populated areas.
Source: American Communities Project
Feb 5, 2021 - The Federal Communications Commission's Wireline Competition Bureau is seeking comments on the metrics that should be used to evaluate applications for funding for Round 2 of the COVID-19 Telehealth Program and how the FCC should treat applications filed during initial funding rounds. Comments were due by January 19, 2021, but the FCC will continue to accept comments at any time.
Source: Federal Register
Feb 5, 2021 - Features a grant program called Come to the Table which offers mini-grants to rural Methodist churches in North Carolina that are providing nutrition assistance to food-insecure families. The program helps faith leaders support local farmers, restaurants, and businesses and study the root causes of hunger. The next round of applications is due February 15, 2021.
Source: Daily Yonder
Feb 5, 2021 - Highlights public libraries in a rural Indiana that evolved to help communities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, including disseminating vaccine information and acting as vaccination sites. Discusses how public libraries are often one of the most trusted institutions and in a position to provide assistance and resources to their communities.
Source: Side Effects Public Media
Feb 5, 2021 - Notice of interim final rule with comment period from the Small Business Administration consolidating prior rules related to Payment Protection Program (PPP) loan forgiveness and loan reviews. This interim final rule also incorporates changes made by the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits, and Venues Act, including revisions to certain PPP requirements and the permission of second-draw loans. This interim final rule is effective February 3, 2021. Comments are due by March 8, 2021.
Source: Federal Register
Feb 5, 2021 - Highlights the small health centers providing COVID-19 vaccinations in rural Maine, discusses how they play a crucial role in reaching vulnerable populations. Explains how these centers are only a small part of the state's vaccination efforts, but they are easier to access and help to fill gaps in distribution.
Source: Bangor Daily News
Feb 4, 2021 - Analyzes COVID-related infection and death rates in California and finds that rural counties experienced an exponential increase in deaths in the months of December 2020 and January 2021. Explains how COVID-19 multiplied in rural and remote counties and describes efforts by public health officials to keep outbreaks contained.
Source: California Healthline
Feb 4, 2021 - Video features mobile healthcare workers in rural Virginia who have yet to receive COVID-19 vaccinations to distribute in their underserved communities. Describes how the disparities that exist in rural areas put residents at a higher risk of complications from COVID. Includes a brief interview with the state's governor.
Source: CBS News
Feb 3, 2021 - Notice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announcing an Agency Order requiring travelers into, within, or departing the United States to wear masks when travelling by airplanes, trains, subways, buses, taxis, ride-shares, ferries, ships, trolleys, and cable cars. This order also requires people to wear masks while at any transportation hub, including but not limited to airports, bus terminals, marinas, train stations, seaports or other ports, and subway stations. This order is effective February 2, 2021.
Source: Federal Register
Feb 3, 2021 - Notice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of a temporary order to halt evictions through March 31, 2021, to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This order is effective January 31, 2021.
Source: Federal Register
Feb 2, 2021 - Notice of amendment from the Department of Health and Human Services to allow additional categories of healthcare professionals—including physicians, registered nurses, and practical nurses with recently expired licenses—to administer COVID-19 vaccinations. This amendment is effective upon publication of this notice.
Source: Federal Register
Feb 2, 2021 - The Indian Health Service (IHS) received $1 billion in additional COVID-19 funding to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. IHS announced that $790 million will support testing, contact tracing, containment, mitigation, and related activities to monitor and suppress COVID-19 in American Indian and Alaska Native communities, and $210 million will go to IHS, tribal, and urban Indian health programs to ensure distribution and access of COVID-19 vaccines.
Source: Indian Health Service
Feb 2, 2021 - Analyzes new COVID-19 infection and death rates between January 24-30, 2021. Finds that an average of 527 rural Americans died every day in January from COVID-related causes, identifying the month as the deadliest of the pandemic so far. Discusses how the rate of new deaths in rural counties outpaced new deaths in urban counties, even with rural counties seeing a decline in new infections.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Feb 2, 2021 - Highlights the medical community in rural Elko County, Nevada and their response efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic, including medical residents who staffed hotline phone banks during the shutdowns in early 2020. Discusses how the local hospital has expanded its mission to be a part of the state's vaccination efforts.
Source: KNPR
Feb 1, 2021 - The Census Bureau is seeking comment on proposed revisions to the Household Pulse Survey, which helps to determine the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on employment status, consumer spending, food security, housing, health, and to gauge the level of education disruptions. Proposed revisions include adding questions regarding disability, child health access, telehealth, childcare, and intent to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Comments are due within 30 days of this notice.
Source: Federal Register
Feb 1, 2021 - Notice from the Department of Health and Human Services extending the July 30, 2020 notice to prevent hoarding of health and medical resources necessary to respond to COVID-19 pandemic. Also updates the list of scarce or threatened materials to include certain classes and sizes of hypodermic needles and syringes. This action is effective February 1, 2021, and terminates June 30, 2021.
Source: Federal Register
Feb 1, 2021 - Features a nursing home and long-term care center in rural Minnesota and discusses the strain of the COVID-19 pandemic on their staff. Describes efforts by leadership to support the mental health of employees, including providing presentations on chronic stress, free mental health video visits with behavioral health providers, virtual guided meditations, and other resources.
Source: MinnPost
Feb 1, 2021 - Discusses how millions of older adults and low-income people of color, who are at higher risk of contracting the virus, may lack transportation or live in rural areas far from COVID-19 vaccination sites. Highlights strategies by local officials to reach out to underserved communities, such as setting up mobile and drive-thru vaccination units and using churches, school, and stores as vaccination sites.
Source: Stateline, Pew Charitable Trusts
Jan 31, 2021 - Explores how West Virginia, a small and mostly rural state with a large elderly population, successfully distributed 85 percent of its delivered COVID-19 vaccine doses. Highlights their decision to rely on independent pharmacies and discusses how having a relatively small and homogenous population has contributed to its success.
Source: NBC News
Jan 28, 2021 - Reports on an analysis of pharmacy locations in North Carolina by zip code that found pharmacy deserts exist and tend to impact rural areas more than other areas of the state. A pharmacy desert is an area with fewer pharmacy locations compared to the state average of three pharmacies every 10 square miles. Discusses how rural pharmacy closure and pharmacy deserts can create added barriers related to COVID-19 vaccination efforts for both patients seeking a vaccine and providers administering them.
Source: ABC11 News
Jan 28, 2021 - Features a long-term care facility in rural Colorado that has seen in-person visits and some activities resume since COVID-19 vaccines arrived. Describes how vaccine deployment and the prioritization of long-term care facilities is easier in small communities, and with round two of the vaccine on the way, residents feel hope and a sense of normalcy.
Source: Kaiser Health News
Jan 28, 2021 - Describes the growing disparity in rural and urban mortality rates from COVID-19 in Oklahoma. Shares potential factors impacting this growing disparity such as public health and rural healthcare infrastructure, how soon a patient seeks care, and misconceptions or mistrust of health messaging surrounding COVID-19 transmission.
Source: Public Radio Tulsa
Jan 28, 2021 - Public health workers driving back from a vaccination site in rural Oregon got stuck in a snowstorm on the highway. With only six hours until the COVID-19 vaccines they had on hand would expire, they decided to offer vaccinations on the spot to stranded drivers.
Source: New York Times
Jan 27, 2021 - Blog post discusses the mental health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and describes five public health efforts to address these impacts. Recommends the Biden-Harris administration focus on investing in public health media campaigns, providing interventions for healthcare providers and other essential workers, increasing the behavioral health workforce, prioritizing mental health research, and expanding mental health screenings.
Source: Health Affairs
Jan 27, 2021 - Highlights creative ways rural healthcare providers are distributing COVID-19 vaccines in their communities. Features health centers in Pennsylvania and South Carolina that purchased mobile health systems to provide testing and vaccination, and a four-woman team providing vaccines in remote communities across Alaska.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Jan 27, 2021 - Features a Washington State University (WSU) project, Marshallese: Alternate Surveillance for COVID-19 in a Unique Population (MASC UP), which focuses on reducing the spread of COVID-19 among Marshallese Pacific Islanders living in the United States. Describes how the Marshallese are a high-risk population who often serve as frontline workers and suffer from existing health disparities.
Source: Washington State University
Jan 26, 2021 - Executive Order from the Office of the President directing the Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, Secretary of Health and Human Services, Secretary of Homeland Security to take immediate action to secure the critical materials, treatments, and supplies needed to combat COVID-19.
Source: Federal Register
Jan 26, 2021 - Executive Order from the Office of the President directing the leaders of all executive departments and agencies to facilitate the gathering, sharing, and publication of COVID-19-related data. This Executive Order also directs the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to issue a report summarizing a review of public health data systems and data collected during public health threats and directs the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to develop a plan to advance innovation in public health data and analytics.
Source: Federal Register
Jan 26, 2021 - Executive Order from the Office of the President creating the COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force to prevent and resolve differences in COVID-19 care and outcomes within communities of color and other underserved populations, including rural and tribal communities.
Source: Federal Register
Jan 26, 2021 - Executive Order from the Office of the President establishing a COVID-19 Pandemic Testing Board to coordinate COVID-19 diagnostic, screening, and surveillance testing. This Executive Order also aims to expand the public health workforce through the creation of the U.S. Public Health Job Corps, a national contact tracing and COVID-19 public health workforce program.
Source: Federal Register
Jan 26, 2021 - Executive Order from the Office of the President regarding the acceleration of COVID-19 therapies, including the support of research in rural hospitals and other rural locations. This Executive Order also directs the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the Secretary of Veterans Affairs, and the leaders of other relevant agencies to provide targeted assistance to critical care and long-term care facilities and facilitate the equitable and effective distribution and utilization of COVID-19 therapeutics.
Source: Federal Register
Jan 26, 2021 - Executive Order from the Office of the President regarding guidance on workplace safety and the enforcement of worker health and safety requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Source: Federal Register
Jan 26, 2021 - Analyzes new COVID-19 infection rates between January 17-26, 2021, finding a decline in both cases and COVID-related deaths in rural counties. Describes that even though nine out of every 10 rural counties remained in the red zone, the latest surge of infections is waning.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Jan 26, 2021 - The Rural Health Information Hub is requesting examples of rural communities and healthcare providers that are addressing vaccine hesitancy or innovating to provide COVID-19 vaccinations. Examples may be included in the Rural COVID-19 Innovations collection.
Source: Rural Health Information Hub
Jan 25, 2021 - Highlights COVID-19 vaccine distribution efforts in rural Kittitas County, Washington using lessons learned from fighting wildfires and applying them to the pandemic. Describes how the county has not wasted a single dose by assigning a name of a person to each vial, informing the public as to how they can make appointments, and implementing a system that guarantees residents come back for the second dose.
Source: CNN
Jan 25, 2021 - Executive Order from the Office of the President creating the position of Coordinator of the COVID-19 Response and Counselor to the President (COVID-19 Response Coordinator). The COVID-19 Response Coordinator will advise and assist the President and executive departments and agencies in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and coordinate all elements of the COVID-19 response. This order also reconvenes the National Security Council Directorate on Global Health Security and Biodefense and the Global Health Security Agenda Interagency Review Council.
Source: Federal Register
Jan 25, 2021 - Commentary from a volunteer firefighter in rural Wisconsin discusses her and her husbands' choice to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, which included a 52 mile round trip. Explains that if a widespread outbreak of COVID hit any of the fire departments, it is necessary that she and her husband are able to respond to calls.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Jan 25, 2021 - The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) flew doses of the Moderna vaccine to the Montana VA Health Care System (MTVAHCS), as part of a new pilot program that provides vaccines to rural veterans. Selected due to its size and rurality, MTVAHCS administered 240 vaccines to veterans in Havre, Montana.
Source: U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs
Jan 22, 2021 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced efforts to expand nutrition assistance to hard-hit families across the country due to the coronavirus pandemic. USDA increased the Pandemic-EBT benefit by approximately 15 percent and is looking at ways to increase Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits to all participants.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
Jan 22, 2021 - The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is seeking comments on the HHS Teletracking COVID-19 Portal (U.S. Healthcare COVID-19 Portal). The data collected through daily reporting by hospitals informs the Federal Government's understanding of disease patterns and furthers the development of policies for COVID-19 prevention and control. Comments are due by February 22, 2021.
Source: Federal Register
Jan 21, 2021 - Blog highlights the national COVID-19 vaccination strategy unveiled by President Biden and his administration, which seeks to address challenges faced by local governments in distributing the vaccine. Summarizes actions to increase supply of vaccinations, leverage federal resources to create local vaccination sites, mobilize additional personnel, and launch a public education campaign.
Source: National Association of Counties
Jan 20, 2021 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced an extension of eviction and foreclosure moratoriums on USDA Single Family Housing Direct and Guaranteed loans (SFHDLP and SFHGLP) through March 31, 2021. Discusses how these actions will bring relief to residents in rural America during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
Jan 20, 2021 - Video features rural healthcare facilities in Montana and Texas and their efforts to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine in their communities. Describes several challenges to distribution in frontier communities, including the shortage of healthcare workers, long distances to travel, and vaccine storage requirements.
Source: CNN
Jan 20, 2021 - Discusses the challenges faced by rural clinics to distribute COVID-19 vaccinations in their rural communities. Describes efforts to overcome the challenges, such as storage requirements, the lack of pharmacies and major medical centers, vaccine hesitation, and stretched resources.
Source: Undark
Jan 19, 2021 - Notice from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announcing the issuance of Emergency Use Authorizations for biological products for use during the COVID-19 pandemic, one for Pfizer, Inc. and another for ModernaTX, Inc. These authorizations are effective on their date of issuance.
Source: Federal Register
Jan 19, 2021 - The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) awarded nearly $90 million in funding to 496 health centers across 48 states, the District of Columbia, Federated States of Micronesia, Puerto Rico, Palau, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Funding aims to address hypertension, improve heart health, and reduce disparities in COVID-19 outcomes among racial and ethnic minority communities.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Jan 19, 2021 - Analyzes new COVID-19 infection rates between January 10-16, 2021, finds that new infections declined in rural counties, but the cumulative rural death toll surpassed 60,000. Includes county-level data identifying areas in the red zone with infections of 100 or more per 100,000 residents.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Jan 19, 2021 - Explores COVID-19 vaccination distribution in rural areas across the country, describes how the lack of a database makes it difficult to track progress and identify areas that need help. While rural Texas hospitals struggle to get ahold of the vaccines, some rural areas in Washington are ahead of the curve and waiting for the rest of the state to catch up.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Jan 19, 2021 - Notice of a final rule from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that amending regulations to provide additional assistance through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). CFAP will provide a second round of direct payments to producers of eligible commodities who continue to be impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. This rule includes information on eligibility requirements, payment calculations and application procedures. This rule is effective January 19, 2021.
Source: Federal Register
Jan 15, 2021 - The Census Bureau is seeking approval for and comments on non-substantive changes to the Small Business Pulse Survey to determine the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the functioning of small businesses. Comments are due within 30 days of this notice.
Source: Federal Register
Jan 15, 2021 - The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) held a series of meetings in January 2021 to implement the Voluntary Agreement for the Manufacture and Distribution of Critical Healthcare Resources Necessary to Respond to a Pandemic. This notice summarizes the objectives of those meetings, which were closed to the public.
Source: Federal Register
Jan 15, 2021 - The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) announced it will be amending the reporting timeline for the Provider Relief Fund Program (PRF) due to the recent passage of the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act. PRF recipients may begin registering for gateway access to the Reporting Portal, but will not have to submit reporting requirements on their use of funds until a later date.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Jan 14, 2021 - The Indian Health Service (IHS) Office of Personnel Management waived a section of federal law that pertains to retired workers, making it easier for the IHS to rehire healthcare and non-healthcare workers who can assist during the COVID-19 pandemic. Identifies a need for physicians and physician assistants, dentists, nurses, pharmacists, medical laboratory scientists, behavioral health clinicians, and engineers, and invites retirees to rejoin the IHS workforce.
Source: Indian Health Service
Jan 14, 2021 - Notice of interim final rule with comment period from the Small Business Administration (SBA) allowing new Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) borrowers flexibility in choosing 2019 or 2020 as the base period to calculate maximum loan amounts. This interim final rule also consolidates and restates interim final rules regarding borrower eligibility, lender eligibility, and PPP application and origination requirements for new PPP loans. This interim final rule is effective January 12, 2021. Comments are due by February 16, 2021.
Source: Federal Register
Jan 14, 2021 - Notice of interim final rule from the Small Business Administration (SBA) to implement section 311 of the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Nonprofits, and Venues Act (the Economic Aid Act). Section 311 of the Economic Aid Act allows SBA to guarantee Paycheck Protection Program Second Draw Loans, which are intended to provide additional economic relief to small businesses that have been adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. This interim final rule is effective January 12, 2021. Comments are by February 16, 2021.
Source: Federal Register
Jan 14, 2021 - The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced $40 million in H-1B Rural Healthcare Grant Program funds awarded to address rural healthcare workforce shortages in communities across the country. Discusses how the COVID-19 pandemic has increased the need for healthcare workers, especially in rural areas. The funding aims to increase the number of individuals training in healthcare occupations that directly impact patient care.
Source: U.S. Department of Labor
Jan 13, 2021 - Notice from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announcing a virtual meeting to implement the Voluntary Agreement for the Manufacture and Distribution of Critical Healthcare Resources Necessary to Respond to a Pandemic on January 15, 2021. The meeting will be open to the public from 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. Eastern. Meeting objectives include updating interested parties on the status of the implementation of FEMA's Voluntary Agreement.
Source: Federal Register
Jan 13, 2021 - Analyzes new COVID-19 infection rates between January 3-9, 2021, finding a record number of infections and COVID-related deaths in both rural and urban counties. Identifies the highest rates of infection in the upper South, the Southwest, and lower portions of Great Lakes states.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Jan 13, 2021 - Blog post discusses lessons learned and areas that transformed healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic. Describes how partnerships between organizations and across other sectors bring innovation and collaboration, especially for rural providers with limited resources. Highlights opportunities within data analytics, the public health system, and virtual care.
Source: American Hospital Association
Jan 12, 2021 - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) expanded the requirement for a negative COVID-19 test to all air passengers entering the United States, effective January 26, 2021. Air passengers are required to get a viral test within the 3 days before their flight to the U.S. departs, and provide written documentation of their test result or provide documentation of having recovered from COVID-19.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Jan 12, 2021 - Interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, discusses the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine and the recent spike in COVID-19 infections and deaths across the country. Explains how grocers and pharmacies are helping distribute the vaccine and setting up locations at schools and libraries could help distribution in rural communities.
Source: RFD TV
Jan 12, 2021 - The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) announced 26 research grants to explore healthcare delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic. The projects focus on areas such as the increased use of telehealth, best practices in rural care settings, emergency management in hospitals, addressing critical barriers to effective pandemic response in hospitals that care for vulnerable populations, and improving clinician and patient safety.
Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
Jan 12, 2021 - The National Association of Rural Health Clinics (NARHC) and the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health (NOSORH) are working to identify any Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) who have not yet received payment under the RHC COVID-19 Testing Program. NARHC is requesting eligible RHCs respond by February 12, 2021.
Source: National Association of Rural Health Clinics
Jan 12, 2021 - Covers the toll that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on American Indian and Alaska Natives as tribal elders have been disproportionately killed by the disease. Discusses the impact this has on Native language, history, and tradition, highlights efforts to protect elders as a mission of cultural survival.
Source: New York Times
Jan 11, 2021 - Notice from the Federal Communications Commission establishing July 31, 2021 as the invoicing deadline for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program. This notice also provides COVID-19 Telehealth Program awardees with additional information on the post-program report.
Source: Federal Register
Jan 11, 2021 - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) maintains a web-based COVID-19 outpatient treatment locator available to assist healthcare providers and patients in finding potential locations for treatment with monoclonal antibody therapeutics. The treatment locator may help reduce the number of people who require hospitalization for COVID-19 care and reduce the strain on hospitals and staff.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Jan 11, 2021 - Highlights tribal health departments in Wisconsin, who quickly administered the COVID-19 vaccine after receiving their first shipments in December, and are awaiting more doses for mass vaccination events. Describes how Oneida Nation has been working on its mass vaccination plan for ten years.
Source: Post Crescent
Jan 9, 2021 - Video features St. Mary Medical Center, a rural California hospital that was hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and relies on a National Guard strike team of medics and nurses that arrive daily. Follows overwhelmed healthcare workers as the hospital is overrun with COVID-19 patients and COVID-related deaths.
Source: CNN
Jan 8, 2021 - Highlights rural communities that have taken the initiative to successfully distribute the first phase of COVID-19 vaccinations. Discusses how healthcare is historically difficult to access in rural areas, but some rural communities face fewer logistical hurdles and smaller numbers to vaccinate.
Source: NPR
Jan 8, 2021 - Highlights efforts by tribal healthcare providers to deliver thousands of COVID-19 vaccines to remote and rural areas of Alaska. Vials have been airlifted to villages via charter plane, others driven on a water taxi, and some of the clinicians giving shots were even shuttled around villages on sleds, pulled behind snow machines.
Source: Alaska Public Media
Jan 8, 2021 - The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced that the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) re-opens January 11, 2021 for new borrowers and certain existing PPP borrowers. This round includes $284 billion to help small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic address job retention and other expenses through March 31, 2021.
Source: Small Business Administration
Jan 8, 2021 - Notice from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) extending the deadline for filing Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) applications for economic injury due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The new deadline for EIDL applications is December 31, 2021.
Source: Federal Register
Jan 7, 2021 - The next group of people to receive the COVID-19 vaccine include food and agricultural workers, but a study found about a third of farmworkers said they were unsure or unlikely to get vaccinated. Discusses the need for outreach to provide education on the vaccine in rural communities.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Jan 7, 2021 - Describes West Virginia's success in delivering the COVID-19 vaccine, putting the state ahead of other states in terms of distribution. Discusses how they are utilizing existing relationships with independent pharmacies to distribute the vaccine in rural and small communities.
Source: NPR
Jan 6, 2021 - Analyzes COVID-related deaths by month and county type and identifies December as the deadliest month on record, with rural counties contributing to a fifth of the total deaths reported in that month. Includes interactive maps of 2020 rural county death rates and percent of 2020 deaths that occurred in December.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Jan 6, 2021 - The Federal Communications Commission's Wireline Competition Bureau is requesting comments on how to administer Round 2 of the COVID-19 Telehealth Program, seeking input on application evaluation metrics, how the Commission should treat applications filed during the initial funding round, and additional program improvements. Round 2 includes an additional $249.95 million to help healthcare providers offer telehealth and connected care services. Comments are due by January 19, 2021.
Source: Federal Communications Commission
Jan 6, 2021 - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced actions by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to provide more than $22 billion in funding to states, localities, and territories in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Funding will provide support for testing and vaccination-related activities to jurisdictions before January 19, 2021.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Jan 6, 2021 - Discusses the results of an American Farm Bureau poll that studied the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on farmers, farmworkers, and rural adults. Results show that 66 percent of farmers/farmworkers felt that COVID-19 had impacted their mental health, while about half of rural adults felt an impact.
Source: American Farm Bureau Federation
Jan 6, 2021 - Summarizes a report that found rural hospitals have consistently had a greater proportion of patients being treated for COVID-19 than urban hospitals since October 2020. Analyzes another report that found rural hospitals have a greater percentage of their beds available than urban hospitals, which could limit rural residents' ability to get advanced services if necessary.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Jan 6, 2021 - The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced its Digital Divide Consult has helped more than 12,000 Veterans obtain internet access or a video-capable device for their healthcare needs. Discusses how the program helps to provide solutions for veterans who are homeless, live in rural areas, or are older than 45, as they are less likely to have access to telehealth services.
Source: U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs
Jan 5, 2021 - Features the Republic of Palau, which has not recorded a single coronavirus case or virus-related death and has received its first shipment of the COVID-19 vaccine. Discusses how the islands have managed to stay COVID-free and how they hope to be one of the first nations inoculated against the virus.
Source: CNN
Jan 5, 2021 - Summarizes a study that found nearly a third of rural counties do not have a pharmacy that is listed in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) COVID-19 vaccine distribution partnerships. Describes an HHS announcement that says additional agreements could be reached to include independent and regional-chain pharmacies in distribution, but the study identified 110 rural counties that have no pharmacies capable of vaccine services.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Jan 5, 2021 - Features the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) and their efforts to keep rural water-treatment employees healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic so local communities could continue to access potable water. Through a partnership, RCAP provided 105,000 N95 masks to water, wastewater, and solid waste treatment facilities in rural and tribal areas.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Jan 4, 2021 - Discusses how the increase in COVID-related deaths has overwhelmed "last responders," or workers at morgues and funeral homes. Describes how funerals and grieving rituals have changed during the COVID-19 pandemic, specifically for Native communities who have been among the hardest hit with COVID illnesses and deaths.
Source: Kaiser Health News
Jan 4, 2021 - Details the concerns of primary care physicians who have not received the COVID-19 vaccine and are unsure of when or where they will receive it. Features primary care doctors in rural communities, discusses how they have been impacted by the pandemic and the crucial role they play in supporting the healthcare system overall.
Source: Stat News
Jan 4, 2021 - Highlights a pharmacist in rural Texas that is helping to administer the COVID-19 vaccine in his hometown. Discusses how independent pharmacies are providing vaccine information and quality care in areas where medical resources and access are often limited.
Source: CBS News
Jan 4, 2021 - At a hospital in Northern California, a freezer that held 830 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine stopped working and medical staff had two hours to use them before they would no longer be viable. Details how medical professionals quickly distributed all of the doses to the county jail and the local community.
Source: Los Angeles Times
Jan 4, 2021 - Features a nurse practitioner that manages the only health clinic in northern rural Grimes County, Texas, highlights her efforts to overcome challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and keep the clinic open. Describes how federal relief funding and temporary telehealth provisions helped her continue operations.
Source: Popular Science
Jan 4, 2021 - The Small Business Administration (SBA) is seeking public comments on an information collection regarding forms used for application for the Paycheck Protection Program. Comments are due by March 5, 2021.
Source: Federal Register
Jan 4, 2021 - Examines how Puerto Rico is benefitting from the expansion of telemedicine during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in rural communities with limited access to healthcare. Discusses how the pandemic and recent earthquakes have made it more difficult to access care, but telemedicine allows patients to seek care from wherever they are.
Source: Direct Relief
Jan 4, 2021 - The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced that the department will purchase an additional $1.5 billion worth of food for nationwide distribution through the Farmers to Families Food Box Program. USDA has distributed more than 132 million food boxes to support American farmers and families affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
Jan 3, 2021 - In some rural school districts where teachers and administrators volunteered to deliver food to needy families during the COVID-19 outbreak, educators encountered poverty firsthand. Highlights federal programs that helped families pay for groceries and the continued efforts by school districts across the country to ensure students did not go hungry.
Source: USA Today

Last Updated: 3/3/2021