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

News stories from the past 60 days.

Sep 18, 2020 - During the COVID-19 pandemic, many barriers to telehealth services were removed due to new regulatory changes, benefitting both mental healthcare providers and their patients. Describes how telehealth can increase access to mental health services in rural areas as clinicians can work across state lines, discusses how the public could benefit from the telehealth expansions remaining in place after the pandemic.
Source: Vox
Sep 17, 2020 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued new guidance for nursing homes on safely facilitating visitations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Recommendations include encouraging nursing homes to utilize outdoor visitation and only allowing indoor visitation if there have been no new cases of COVID-19 in 14 days.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Sep 17, 2020 - Provides corrections to payment rate table published in the May 21, 2020 rule implementing the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). This correction is effective upon official publication of this notice in the Federal Register, which is scheduled for September 21, 2020.
Source: Federal Register
Sep 16, 2020 - Analyzes new COVID-19 infection rates in counties across the U.S. and finds that rural counties on the red-zone list dropped significantly for the first time in more than two months. Includes an interactive map and a chart detailing rural red-zone counties by state.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Sep 16, 2020 - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Department of Defense (DoD) released two documents outlining the Administration's strategy to efficiently distribute COVID-19 vaccinations to the American people. The documents include a playbook for state, tribal, territorial, and local public health programs on how to plan a vaccination response in their jurisdiction.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Sep 15, 2020 - The Census Bureau is seeking comment on the extension of a data collection through October 31, 2020 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. Comments are due within 30 days of this notice.
Source: Federal Register
Sep 15, 2020 - Rural vacation destinations have seen an influx of outsiders relocating during the COVID-19 pandemic. Describes how an increase in residents could cause strain on the towns' hospitals and healthcare providers. While the population increase helps some rural hospitals rebound, healthcare facilities may have to rebalance services if the population shift becomes permanent.
Source: Kaiser Health News
Sep 14, 2020 - The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has issued a request for information regarding the deployment and use of elastomeric half-mask respirators (EHMR) in healthcare settings and emergency medical services (EMS) organizations during the COVID-19 crisis. Submissions are due by October 14, 2020.
Source: Federal Register
Sep 14, 2020 - Announcement of a virtual public meeting of the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Advisory Committee (CLIAC) to be held on October 28, 2020 from 11:00 a.m. - 6:30 p.m. Eastern and October 29, 2020 from 11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. Eastern. Agenda items include agency updates from CDC, CMS, and FDA. The focus of the meeting is Clinical Laboratory Medicine in the Age of COVID-19 and will include presentations and discussions on preparedness and response: the partnership between clinical laboratories and public health; laboratory data exchanges during COVID-19; and the clinical laboratory's role in identifying health inequities during the COVID-19 response.
Source: Federal Register
Sep 14, 2020 - Discusses how many rural towns across the U.S. are struggling with food insecurity worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic. Features the community of Lexington, Nebraska, which utilized the weekly USDA Farmers to Families Food Box distribution and received help from the local food pantry.
Source: WVIK
Sep 11, 2020 - The Food and Drug Administration announced four Emergency Use Authorizations for drugs related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The FDA has revoked one Emergency Use Authorization issued to Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) effective June 15, 2020.
Source: Federal Register
Sep 10, 2020 - Blog post discusses the inequities in rural, tribal, and low-income communities, as well as communities of color, highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Describes how these populations are less likely to have access to clean water, broadband, affordable energy; includes examples of communities working to make these more accessible.
Source: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Sep 10, 2020 - The Department of Health and Human Services has issued a request for information regarding the ability of Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA)-certified/accredited commercial, academic, medical center, and public health laboratories to provide additional COVID-19 testing capability if supplementary testing instruments are made available. Submissions are due by September 21, 2020.
Source: Federal Register
Sep 9, 2020 - Analyzes new COVID-19 infection rates and finds rural cases increased while metropolitan cases declined for the second week in row. Reports an increase in red-zone counties and in the number of cases originating in rural red-zone counties for the first time in four weeks. Includes an interactive map of all U.S. counties new infection rates.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Sep 9, 2020 - 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 September 9, 2020.
Sep 8, 2020 - Describes Vermont Everyone Eats!, a food relief initiative that distributes federal CARES Act funds through a grant that pays restaurants to prepare meals for those in need in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including residents living in rural communities. The grant requires restaurants to source 10 percent of the food they use to prepare meals for the program from local farms.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Sep 8, 2020 - Summarizes a study that encourages county and state health departments to release race-specific information on COVID-19 cases to better examine the impacts on people of color in rural areas. Describes how Black and Hispanic populations are at a greater risk of dying from the virus, calls for policy intervention that prioritizes vulnerable populations with limited resources.
Source: Pew Charitable Trusts
Sep 7, 2020 - Interview with the executive director of the Community Resource and Counseling Center in Paxton, Illinois on how they have shifted to providing online mental health services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Discusses the challenges to accessing mental health services in rural areas and how they are overcoming those obstacles to enhance and provide care.
Source: Illinois Newsroom
Sep 5, 2020 - Discusses how limited underlying healthcare infrastructure in rural Southern West Virginia can exacerbate existing access to care and workforce issues, which ultimately impacts how providers and healthcare systems can respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Source: Charleston Gazette-Mail
Sep 3, 2020 - Notice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of a temporary order to halt evictions through December 31, 2020 to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This rule is effective on September 4, 2020.
Source: Federal Register
Sep 3, 2020 - Notice of interim final rule and comment request from the Department of Defense to waive certain requirements for skilled nursing facility (SNF) care, acute care hospitals, and long-term care hospitals related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Among other things, the rule adds coverage for treatment use of investigational drugs under expanded access authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) when for the treatment of COVID-19, and revises diagnosis related group (DRG) reimbursement. This interim rule is effective on September 3, 2020 through the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Source: Federal Register
Sep 3, 2020 - The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced an extension of the Rural Health Care (RHC) and E-Rate program gift rules waiver through December 31, 2020 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Allows broadband providers to offer RHC and E-Rate program participants better internet access and equipment. Seeks to support telehealth and remote learning during the ongoing pandemic.
Source: Federal Communications Commission
Sep 3, 2020 - The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) announced the details of a $2 billion Provider Relief Fund (PRF) performance-based incentive payment distribution to nursing homes. This is an update to the previously announced $5 billion in planned support to nursing homes impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Funding is provided by the $175 billion Provider Relief program funded through the CARES Act and the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Sep 2, 2020 - Notice of interim final rule with comment period revising long-term care facility reporting and testing requirements related to COVID-19. Also creates new requirements in the hospital and Critical Access Hospital Conditions of Participation for tracking the incidence and impact COVID-19. These regulations are effective on September 2, 2020 and comments are due by November 2, 2020.
Source: Federal Register
Sep 1, 2020 - The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a discussion draft of the Preliminary Framework for Equitable Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccine report. Public input and comments are requested, especially from communities that are disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, to produce a final report. The public comment forum will be open for 4 days, from 12:00 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday, September 1, until 11:59 p.m. Eastern on Friday, September 4. There will also be a public listening session on Wednesday, September 2, from 12:00 to 5:00 p.m. Eastern.
Source: The National Academies Press
Sep 1, 2020 - The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) announced assisted living facilities (ALFs) may now apply for funding under the Provider Relief Fund Phase 2 General Distribution allocation. Seeks to support healthcare providers in addressing both the economic harm and additional expenses caused by COVID-19. Funding is provided through the CARES Act and the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Aug 31, 2020 - U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced an extension of a series of nationwide waivers to allow the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) and Seamless Summer Option (SSO) to continue serving free meals to all children through the end of 2020 while the country recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
Aug 28, 2020 - Highlights a tribal contacting tracing program and testing plan that has successfully decreased the number of COVID-19 cases among the Navajo Nation and White Mountain Apache Tribe of Fort Apache in Arizona.
Source: High Country News
Aug 27, 2020 - The Federal Communications Commission is seeking comments and burden estimates on an information collection related to the Promoting Telehealth for Low-Income Consumers, COVID-19 Telehealth Program. Information obtained through the information collection will be used to evaluate whether or not the programs are in compliance with appropriate rules and procedures. Comments are due by September 28, 2020.
Source: Federal Register
Aug 27, 2020 - Highlights challenges rural homeless youth face while trying to complete their schooling during the COVID-19 pandemic. Describes difficulties rural homeless, homeless families, and organizations face when trying to determine who qualifies for shelter and services.
Source: Cronkite News Arizona PBS
Aug 27, 2020 - The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has distributed $2.5 billion to over 15,000 nursing homes to help meet the increased need for testing, staffing, personal protective equipment (PPE) during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Aug 26, 2020 - Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, schools have moved classes online, but many rural students lack the internet access or technology to participate. Describes an additional disparity that exists for black, Latino, and Native American populations, and highlights community efforts to address the broadband and technology gaps for these populations.
Source: Thomas Reuters Foundation
Aug 26, 2020 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released guidance for nursing homes and clinical laboratories to assist in efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19. New guidance requires nursing homes to test all residents and staff, includes a new survey tool and steps facilities must take to meet testing requirements.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Aug 26, 2020 - Notice from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) reopening the comment period for the April 14, 2020 notice of interim final rule to update the regulatory requirements used by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to test and approve air-purifying particulate respirators for use in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Comments are due by September 25, 2020.
Source: Federal Register
Aug 26, 2020 - Discusses the mental health issues faced by farmers and their families, even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Highlights examples of how America's food producers manage their stress, includes information on a television special on farm stress and mental health aired August 27, 2020.
Source: American Farm Bureau Federation
Aug 25, 2020 - Describes how Pacific Islanders and Alaska Natives in Alaska are more likely contract COVID-19 due to health disparities, economic factors, and cultural factors. Discusses how rural Native populations are more likely to live in multi-generational housing that lack running water, explains that these inequities need to be addressed through policy.
Source: KTOO Public Media
Aug 25, 2020 - Analysis finds that while the number of new COVID-19 cases in rural counties has fallen, a third of rural counties still have very high infection rates. Half of all red-zone counties are in a ten-state Southern region. Includes an interactive map of new COVID-19 cases in counties across the U.S.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Aug 25, 2020 - The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) announced over $117 million in quality improvement awards to 1,318 health centers across all U.S. states and territories. The awards aim to strengthen quality improvement activities and expand healthcare service delivery, including increasing access to COVID-19 testing and treatment.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Aug 25, 2020 - Announcement from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of a virtual public meeting of the Advisory Committee on Infant Mortality (ACIM) on September 23-24, 2020. Agenda items are being finalized but may include updates from HRSA and the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, discussion of COVID-19 and infant and maternal health, and updates on priority topic areas for ACIM to address (equity, data, access, and quality of care).
Source: Federal Register
Aug 25, 2020 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced regulatory changes that require nursing homes to test staff and offer testing to residents for COVID-19. Includes information on new testing requirements for nursing homes, reporting requirements for hospitals and labs, and requirements for physicians and pharmacists ordering tests.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Aug 24, 2020 - Describes how the Title VI program under Older Americans Act (OAA) is being used to address food insecurity and related issues for tribal elders during the COVID-19 pandemic. Title VI funding is awarded by the Administration for Community Living (ACL) and can be used to support transportation, nutrition services, information and referral, and other home care services.
Source: Network for Public Health Law
Aug 24, 2020 - The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a Medicaid Informational Bulletin that provides guidance to states on how they may use state-directed payments to increase reimbursement for nursing facilities that implement COVID-19 infection control practices. Describes how nursing facilities are vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19 and how states must take steps to enhance infection control policy.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Aug 24, 2020 - Notice of amendment from the Department of Health and Human Services to allow state-licensed pharmacists to order and administer, and certain pharmacy interns to administer, any vaccine that the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices recommends for people age 3-18. Also clarifies the category of diseases, health conditions, or threats for which covered countermeasures should be used to include not only COVID-19, but also others conditions that may have been caused by COVID-19, including the decrease in the rate of childhood immunizations, which could lead to an increase in the rate of infectious disease. This amendment is effective as of August 24, 2020.
Source: Federal Register
Aug 22, 2020 - As COVID-19 continues to spread, rural communities find themselves on the brink of losing cash-strapped facilities. Describes how hospital closures often lead to a higher mortality rate in the local community, and while rural hospitals have received some federal aid during the public health crisis, many were too weak before the pandemic hit.
Source: NPR
Aug 21, 2020 - Blog post discusses how communities with relationships within their health network were able to respond faster and more effectively to the COVID-19 crisis. Describes how these relationships build more resilient rural communities, enabling them to address social determinants of health and effectively share information and resources.
Source: National Rural Health Association
Aug 20, 2020 - Discusses the efforts of a regional health agency to implement airport COVID-19 testing for all travelers into Bethel, Alaska. Bethel is a large rural hub community of approximately 6,500 residents, that acts as a regional center for over 50 smaller villages in remote areas of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta that are off the road system.
Source: Anchorage Daily News
Aug 20, 2020 - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is seeking comments on a proposed information collection to obtain information and data about the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey will ask questions about general health, psychological distress, chronic conditions, health behaviors, testing and treatment for COVID-19, the pandemic's impact on healthcare access, and how individuals are changing their behavior because of COVID-19. Comments on the information collection are due by October 19, 2020.
Source: Federal Register
Aug 20, 2020 - Interview with the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Edwards County Medical Center, a Critical Access Hospital (CAH), discussing their experience of being a rural healthcare provider during the COVID-19 pandemic in rural Kansas. Covers changes the medical center has made to their operations and finances to generate cash and preserve existing resources, and challenges to implementing innovative financial strategies.
Source: Health Leaders Media
Aug 19, 2020 - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a study that examines COVID-19 effects on American Indian and Native American (AI/AN) populations. Findings show that COVID-19 cases among AI/AN were 3.5 times higher than non-Hispanic whites and AI/AN who tested positive also tended to be younger. Includes information on federal funding provided to address these disparities.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Aug 19, 2020 - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a third amendment to the Declaration under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act) to increase access to vaccines for children as they return to daycare and school. Includes requirements for State-licensed pharmacists to order and administer vaccines to children aged 3 to 18 years.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Aug 19, 2020 - Discusses that while the rate of new COVID-19 infections in rural counties has decreased, certain rural counties in the South, Southwest, Western Indian Country, and Midwest accounted for three-quarters of new cases in rural counties. Includes an interactive map of COVID-19 cases from August 8 to August 15, 2020.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Aug 18, 2020 - Discusses how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected rural patients in need of non-emergent procedures, such as knee replacements and Lasik eye surgery. Now that elective surgeries are once again permitted, hospitals are experiencing an influx of surgical bookings, creating a long waitlist for rural patients who already experience more barriers to care.
Source: KUER
Aug 18, 2020 - Analyzes county-level job reports and finds that rural employment grew at a slower rate from May to June than the rest of the nation. Findings also show that compared to June 2019 employment rates, every county type has seen job loss this year, but rural counties saw a less pronounced decline, with COVID-19 affecting urban areas the most.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Aug 17, 2020 - The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announces the formation of a voluntary agreement under Section 708 of the Defense Production Act for the manufacture and distribution of critical healthcare resources necessary to respond to a pandemic. The activities included in the agreement are limited to those necessary to respond to a pandemic, at the sole determination, direction, and supervision of FEMA.
Source: Federal Register
Aug 15, 2020 - Analyzes new cases of COVID-19 by rurality and finds that rural counties are adding new cases at a rate above the national average. In early May, rural counties were less likely to acquire new infections, but over time, rural counties saw their case rates climb as the rest of the country either saw a decrease or plateau.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Aug 14, 2020 - The COVID-19 pandemic has put extra pressure on physicians and other healthcare workers; in response, some health systems are using connected health platforms to connect stressed employees with virtual behavioral health services. Discusses how telehealth addresses physician burnout and improves work-life balance, and will continue to do so after the pandemic.
Source: Xtelligent Healthcare Media
Aug 13, 2020 - In rural West Virginia, emergency service calls decreased early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, but in May, calls skyrocketed due to an increase in motor vehicle accidents, elderly health problems, and drug overdoses. Describes how the additional cost of COVID-19 personal protective equipment has impacted emergency medical service finances and discusses the toll the job takes on the mental health of personnel.
Source: 100 Days in Appalachia
Aug 11, 2020 - Analyzes new COVID-19 infection rates and finds that for the first time since May, infections in rural areas declined week to week, but the number of deaths is still increasing. Includes an interactive map of all U.S. counties new infection rates.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Aug 10, 2020 - One positive outcome of the COVID-19 pandemic is that certain restrictions on in-person visits were suspended, expanding telemedicine options for substance use disorder treatment and other services. Discusses how telemedicine increases access to treatment for rural Washingtonians, highlighting programs that have seen an increase in drug treatment admissions.
Source: Seattle Times
Aug 10, 2020 - Summarizes the Accelerating Connected Care and Education Support Services on the Internet (ACCESS the Internet) Act, a bill introduced to Congress that would increase funding for telehealth expansion and access to broadband. If passed, the bill would provide an additional $400 million to the Federal Communications Commission's COVID-19 Telehealth Program, another $100 million for the Department of Veterans Affairs to expand telehealth access for rural and undeserved veterans, $1.3 billion to the Department of Education to boost distance learning service, and give $200 million to the Institute for Museum and Library Services to improve internet connectivity for libraries in rural areas.
Source: Xtelligent Healthcare Media
Aug 7, 2020 - Discusses how the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated mental illness, with depression, anxiety, and overdoses on the rise. Highlights creative solutions mental health providers across North Carolina are implementing, such as giving patients free smartphones with data plans, coordinating socially-distant in-person visits, and hosting outdoor support groups.
Source: North Carolina Health News
Aug 7, 2020 - Blog post discusses how rural hospitals have been affected by COVID-19 throughout the public health emergency. Highlights rural leaders' reactions and initiatives to improve the quality of patient care during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Source: American Hospital Association
Aug 6, 2020 - Features two Texas towns: Gail in North Texas, which has seen no cases of coronavirus; and Roma in the Rio Grande Valley, which has a large Latino population, high poverty rates, and an overwhelming number of COVID-19 cases. Compares the experiences of the two towns, as one takes precautions to stay COVID-free, while the other tries to survive.
Source: VOA News
Aug 6, 2020 - The USDA Rural Development State Director for Nebraska shares examples of ways his team has helped the local communities during the COVID-19 crisis. Features a volunteer firefighter who also helps people deal with medical and financial stresses that may have arisen during the pandemic; and the state engineer and his wife who make and distribute cloth face masks to medical and law enforcement professionals.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
Aug 4, 2020 - Features a small rural hospital on the Texas-Mexico border overwhelmed by a coronavirus outbreak in Rio Grande Valley. With no ICU beds and only 12 full-time doctors in the county, the hospital created a makeshift COVID-19 unit and began transporting severe cases to larger facilities.
Source: New York Times
Aug 1, 2020 - Features a rural town in Missouri that has experienced a surge of coronavirus cases, particularly impacting nearby Latinx communities. In response, the town ramped up its outreach, producing a Spanish-language public service announcement and flyers to educate the Latinx community on COVID-19.
Source: NPR
Jul 31, 2020 - Features several ambulance services in rural North Dakota and discusses the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on operations. Describes how rural volunteer emergency services across the state are having difficulty with staffing out of fear for contracting the virus, while a decrease in calls has created additional financial burdens. (May require a subscription to view full article).
Source: Grand Forks Herald
Jul 31, 2020 - Blog post explores rural and community hospital closures over the last ten years and the impact this has on their communities. Describes how the COVID-19 pandemic highlights weaknesses and disparities in the health system and rural America. Provides recommendations to promote sustainability and support struggling rural hospitals.
Source: National Rural Health Association
Jul 30, 2020 - Provides an overview of a report released prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, that found rural counties and counties in the Southeast as some of the most disadvantaged in the country. Discusses how philanthropy can help to address these disparities, highlights strategic efforts to invest in the South during COVID-19.
Source: PhilanthropywoRx
Jul 30, 2020 - Notice from the Department of Health and Human Services extending the March 23, 2020 Executive Order to prevent hoarding of health and medical resources necessary to respond to COVID-19 pandemic. Also includes modifications and additions to the original list of scarce or threatened materials. This action took effect July 23, 2020 and terminates January 19, 2021.
Source: Federal Register
Jul 30, 2020 - Explores the struggles of remote learning in a rural county in Colorado and addresses disparities present in the community making it difficult to decide how to operate schools in the fall. Explains how in-person classes are the best option to address these disparities and promote learning, but with COVID-19 cases on the rise, the schools work to improve remote learning.
Source: Colorado Sun
Jul 30, 2020 - Features the Yakama Nation, a Native community in Washington state that has been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Discusses how COVID-19 data collected often omits information about race and ethnicity, making it difficult for tribes to receive sufficient funds aimed at economic recovery.
Source: New York Times
Jul 30, 2020 - Summarizes research focused on the implications of telehealth in addressing rural health disparities. Explains how telehealth helps bridge communication gaps, allows for the continuation of care, and reduces physician and patient exposure to coronavirus, but identifies the lack of broadband access in rural areas as a barrier to implementation.
Source: American Academy of Family Physicians
Jul 29, 2020 - Discusses the existing disparities between rural women and their urban counterparts and how the COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating inequities. Features the Arizona Rural Women's Health Network, which focuses on providing services and resources to health professionals that allow them to address health concerns and disparities that rural women face.
Source: Public Health News Wire
Jul 29, 2020 - Scientists at Washington State University (WSU) Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine launched the COVID-19 Urban Rural Explorer (CURE) which provides a daily snapshot of cases in rural communities across the U.S. Describes how the tool can help health professionals respond to rural areas of need and identify rural urban health inequities.
Source: Washington State University
Jul 28, 2020 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released its first monthly update of data that provides a snapshot of the impact COVID-19 has had on the Medicare population, including data for American Indian and Alaska Native Medicare beneficiaries. The summary of data confirms COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting racial and ethnic minorities as well as other vulnerable populations.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Jul 28, 2020 - The Department of Energy (DOE), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced the formation of the COVID-19 Insights Partnership, an initiative to coordinate and share COVID-19 health data. Research and analysis conducted by the Partnership will focus on vaccine development, virology, and other topics to understand COVID-19.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Jul 28, 2020 - Covers how the Navajo Nation successfully limited the spread of COVID-19 and flattened its curve after having one of the highest infection rates in the country. Includes an interview with Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez on how mask mandates, social distancing, and external aid helped them to decrease infection rates.
Source: Vox
Jul 28, 2020 - The financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic led rural Southwest Georgia Regional Medical Center to announce it is closing its doors after years of struggling financially. Discusses the implications of this closure on the health and economic wellbeing of the community.
Source: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Jul 27, 2020 - Analyzes COVID-19's economic impacts on rural communities, identifying rural communities of color as one of the populations with the highest coronavirus case numbers and deaths. Includes policy recommendations to provide more relief to state and local governments as the case numbers continue to rise.
Source: Center for American Progress
Jul 27, 2020 - Blog post summarizing research to understand the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on rural health equity in New Hampshire and Vermont. Highlights lessons learned from response efforts deployed in rural Northern New England, describes how rural regions face significant challenges, but the coordinated efforts of health systems and communities were able to stem the spread of the disease.
Source: Health Affairs
Jul 24, 2020 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a third round of Farmers to Families Food Box Program purchases with distributions to occur beginning by September 1, 2020. The program was created to help struggling farmers and hungry families during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
Jul 23, 2020 - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released science-based resources and tools for school administrators, teachers, parents, guardians, and caregivers to support the safe opening of schools this fall. A media telebriefing on July 24, 2020 discusses these new resources on guiding decision-making on attending in-person curriculum and adapting to local conditions.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Jul 23, 2020 - Rural social workers already work with limited resources and unique challenges, but with COVID-19, new issues have emerged as children are unable to go to school where they may receive the majority of their support. Details the challenges facing rural social workers as they work from home and discusses ways they can prepare if another wave of COVID-19 hits.
Source: National Rural Health Association
Jul 23, 2020 - Interview with WellSpan Health President and CEO on how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected rural communities in Pennsylvania. Discusses the health system's short and long term goals to serve their communities and describes the importance of providing resources and improving health outcomes in rural areas.
Source: Health Leaders Media
Jul 22, 2020 - Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, rural hospitals had to cancel elective surgeries and other profitable operations. Months later, some are facing a surge of infected patients. Describes how federal funding has helped rural hospitals hold on, but for facilities that were struggling before the pandemic, the future is uncertain.
Source: Pew Charitable Trusts
Jul 22, 2020 - Describes several new Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) initiatives designed to protect nursing home residents from COVID-19. Initiatives include $5 billion in funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for Medicare-certified long term care facilities and state veterans' homes; requiring nursing homes with a 5% positivity rate or higher to test all staff each week; and additional technical assistance and support to nursing homes.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Jul 21, 2020 - Social service organizations in Kentucky are expecting an increase in homelessness among rural residents as federal unemployment benefits and moratoriums on eviction come to an end. Discusses how unemployment has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic and social service agencies are stretched thin and struggling to provide support for rent, utility payments, and food.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Jul 20, 2020 - In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is creating a new department-wide system of records called the Records Used for Surveillance and Study of Epidemics, Preventable Diseases and Problems, which will replace the existing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Epidemic Investigation Case Records system. This allows all parts of HHS to report and maintain epidemiological and surveillance records to support the HHS response to the pandemic. Comments on the new system are due by August 19, 2020.
Source: Federal Register
Jul 20, 2020 - Rural healthcare organizations are seeking guidance from the federal government on how the funding they received during the pandemic can be used and whether or not they will have to pay it back. Describes how rural hospitals continue to struggle and worry that the funding will not be enough to cover their losses and sustain them in the months to come.
Source: The Daily Yonder

Last Updated: 9/18/2020