Skip to main content

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

News stories from the past 60 days.

Jul 1, 2020 - The Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Wireline Competition Bureau approved an additional 70 funding applications for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program. Over $31 million will help to provide telehealth services in both rural and urban areas of the country during the coronavirus pandemic.
Source: Federal Communications Commission
Jul 1, 2020 - The director of the Small Town Center at Mississippi State University highlights small cities in Mississippi that are adapting during the coronavirus pandemic to keep their communities active and vibrant. Small towns have begun investing in sidewalks, bike paths, and parks to promote an active lifestyle; buying directly from local farmers; and promoting in-state tourism as a means to support local economies.
Source: The Conversation
Jul 1, 2020 - The Rural Health Information Hub (RHIhub) is requesting examples of creative ways communities are adapting during the COVID-19 pandemic. Examples can include innovations in healthcare, childcare, food access, supporting local businesses, and other areas.
Jun 30, 2020 - The U.S. Department of Education announced the Rural Tech Project, a challenge that invites high schools and local educational agencies (LEAs) to develop competency-based distance learning programs to improve instruction in rural communities. Five finalists will receive an equal share of a $500,000 pool and then have two years to refine their program before one finalist is chosen and awarded an additional $100,000 prize. Proposals are due October 8, 2020.
Source: U.S. Department of Education
Jun 29, 2020 - The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced the launching of a digital COVID-19 screening tool to help Veterans access medical care during the coronavirus pandemic. Caregivers and VA healthcare workers can use the tool on their mobile phones before entering facilities, reducing wait times and lowering exposure risk and stress.
Source: U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs
Jun 27, 2020 - Between June 26 and June 29, rural counties saw record-breaking numbers of new COVID-19 cases in a single day. Describes how rural cases are rising at a slightly higher rate than the national average. Includes case data for the month of June.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Jun 26, 2020 - Analyzes new cases of COVID-19, identifying that for the second week in a row, rural counties had the highest number in a seven-day period since the pandemic began. Includes data comparing new cases by county type, attributes the increase in rural counties to several hotspot locations in Navajo Country and the Southwest.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Jun 26, 2020 - Notice of interim final rule from the Small Business Administration revising the previous interim final rule for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Updates key provisions to conform to the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act of 2020. Comments on the changes are due by July 27, 2020.
Source: Federal Register
Jun 25, 2020 - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated and expanded the list of who is at increased risk for getting severely ill from COVID-19. CDC clarifies that risk increases steadily as you age, lists chronic conditions that may increase a person's risk, and recommends individuals follow prevention strategies.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Jun 25, 2020 - Discusses how the declining coal industry and COVID-19 pandemic impacts the economic viability of rural hospitals and their local communities, with a focus on Wyoming and Appalachia. Central Appalachian hospitals were able to resume non-emergency procedures, but rural health officials worry new revenue and COVID-19 relief will not be enough to undo years of financial instability.
Source: Energy News Network
Jun 25, 2020 - During the COVID-19 pandemic, a rural hospice in North Carolina made necessary changes to ensure the safety of their staff and patients, including utilizing protective gear, new visitation policies, and reduction of non-essential staff. Highlights creative solutions hospice workers have taken to help patients feel comfortable while in their care.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Jun 25, 2020 - Public Notice from the Wireline Competition Bureau announced it will no longer accept new applications for funding from the COVID-19 Telehealth Program. Applications received to date and the demand for funding exceeds available program funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.
Source: Federal Communications Commission
Jun 24, 2020 - Explores the challenges schools will have to overcome to reopen in the fall in the during the COVID-19 pandemic. Discusses transportation barriers, social distancing and class sizes, masks, cleaning protocols, and access to high-speed internet. Introduces the Rural Community Resource Hub which offers resources to help rural schools make informed decisions and respond to COVID-19.
Source: Successful Farming
Jun 24, 2020 - The Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Wireline Competition Bureau approved an additional 77 funding applications for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program. $29.41 million in funding will help urban and rural healthcare providers provide telehealth services during the coronavirus pandemic.
Source: Federal Communications Commission
Jun 24, 2020 - Addresses rural maternal healthcare challenges and the additional burden the COVID-19 pandemic has placed on new mothers and access to care. Discusses how the pandemic has highlighted the importance of midwives and doulas, describes changes necessary to make midwifery more accessible for people of all socioeconomic and racial backgrounds.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Jun 24, 2020 - Analyzes new COVID-19 cases in rural America and finds more than half came from a small number of hotspot counties, most in Southeastern states. North Carolina had the greatest number of hotspot counties, while Texas had the greatest number of new cases.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Jun 23, 2020 - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Minority Health (OMH) selected the Morehouse School of Medicine as the awardee for a new $40 million initiative to fight COVID-19 in racial and ethnic minority, rural and socially vulnerable communities. The National Infrastructure for Mitigating the Impact of COVID-19 within Racial and Ethnic Minority Communities (NIMIC) Initiative is a three-year project working with community-based organizations to deliver resources to fight the pandemic.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Jun 22, 2020 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) called for a commitment to value-based care due to Medicare claims data that shows the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the Medicare population. Data highlights disparities in health outcomes for minority communities and low-income populations and shows that older Americans and those with chronic health conditions are at the highest risk for COVID-19.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Jun 21, 2020 - Discusses restrictions that tribal governments across the country are putting in place to prevent further spread of COVID-19 on reservations, as surrounding communities and states loosen their precautions.
Source: The Hill
Jun 19, 2020 - Highlights groups that are helping to address mental and behavioral health issues among Native American communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Describes how the disease has disproportionately affected Native communities and discusses the importance of connecting with others when coping with psychological distress.
Source: Cronkite News
Jun 19, 2020 - The Small Business Administration has published revisions to its interim final rule related to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The provisions in this interim final rule related to loan forgiveness for PPP loans are effective March 27, 2020; provisions related to the maturity date of PPP loans are effective June 5, 2020; and remaining provisions are effective June 16, 2020. Comments on the changes are due July 20, 2020.
Source: Federal Register
Jun 18, 2020 - Discusses provisions of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the impact the resulting federal funding could have on rural communities.
Source: AARP Blog
Jun 17, 2020 - Senate health committee Chairman Lamar Alexander recommended the federal government permanently extend policy changes that allow physicians to be reimbursed for a telehealth appointment wherever the patient is located as well as policy changes that doubled the number of telehealth services that could be reimbursed by Medicare. Explains that 29 other temporary federal policy changes should also be considered for being made permanent.
Source: U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions
Jun 17, 2020 - The Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Wireline Competition Bureau approved an additional 62 funding applications for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program. Rural and urban healthcare providers will utilize the $23.25 million of funding to provide telehealth services during the pandemic.
Source: Federal Communications Commission
Jun 16, 2020 - COVID-19 social distancing measures have increased difficulties for LGBTQ youth as they are cut off from life-affirming social connections. Discusses how social isolation puts LGBTQ youth at risk for depression and anxiety; highlights the potential for telehealth to help those in rural communities, where it can be hard to find LGBTQ-friendly counseling.
Source: American Heart Association
Jun 16, 2020 - The Federal Emergency Management Agency is seeking public comment on the voluntary donations web portal set up to obtain information on possible donations of equipment and resources that can be distributed to organizations directly responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Comments are due by August 17, 2020.
Source: Federal Register
Jun 16, 2020 - Interview with Cornelius Blanding, Executive Director of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund, a cooperative association of Black farmers and landowners across the rural South. Discusses poverty and discrimination among Black and rural communities, describes their efforts to respond to the coronavirus pandemic and address inequities by helping Black farmers and feeding those who need it.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Jun 16, 2020 - The Small Business Administration has published revisions to its interim final rule, published on April 15, 2020. Includes changes to key provisions, such as the loan maturity, deferral of loan payments, and forgiveness provisions, to conform to the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act, among other things. Comments on the changes are due July 16, 2020.
Source: Federal Register
Jun 15, 2020 - Telehealth's potential to transform healthcare has been highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic, but it also revealed the extent of the healthcare gap that exists for rural and low-income residents. Provides recommendations to address the gap, including investing in rural broadband, marrying chronic and home care, and expanding telehealth in mental healthcare facilities, emergency responder vehicles, and hospitals.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Jun 15, 2020 - Daily Yonder, the Rural Assembly, and the Housing Assistance Council co-hosted a second livestream discussion on COVID-19 and its effects on rural housing. Focuses on policy to address rural housing challenges during the pandemic.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Jun 15, 2020 - Analyzes counties with the highest rate of new COVID-19 infections in the last 30 days finding that meatpacking plants and prisons continue to be a major contributor to the spread of the disease and the hardest hit counties are home to large numbers of non-whites. Includes an interactive map of rural counties' new infection rates.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Jun 12, 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 June 12, 2020.
Source: Federal Register
Jun 11, 2020 - The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) awarded $8 million to 73 organizations that provide training and technical assistance (T/TA) to HRSA-funded health centers. The funding ensures that the organizations can continue to provide resources to health centers to aid in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Jun 10, 2020 - The Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Wireline Competition Bureau approved the tenth set of applications for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program, approving 67 funding applications and $20.18 million in funding for rural and urban areas. To date, the FCC has approved nearly $105 million in funding to help healthcare providers implement telehealth services during the coronavirus pandemic.
Source: Federal Communications Commission
Jun 10, 2020 - Viewpoint article discusses how all-payer global budgets may provide rural hospitals with financial stability and flexibility to respond to changing health needs, as well as address economic challenges posed prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Explores the global budget models used in Maryland and Pennsylvania and includes considerations for policy implementation in other states.
Source: JAMA Network
Jun 10, 2020 - U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced a waiver that allows local partners to continue serving free meals to all children for the remainder of the summer, extending the USDA's child nutrition programs implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
Jun 9, 2020 - The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) announced additional distributions from the Provider Relief Fund, distributing $15 billion to eligible providers that participate in state Medicaid and CHIP programs and have not received a payment and $10 billion to safety net hospitals. HHS launched an enhanced Provider Relief Fund Payment Portal that will allow eligible Medicaid and CHIP providers to report their annual patient revenue to help determine their payment.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Jun 9, 2020 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a guide for patients and beneficiaries to ensure that non-emergency healthcare resumes safely and that patients receive in-person treatment that was postponed due to COVID-19. Recommendations cover facility considerations, testing and sanitation protocols, personal protective equipment and supplies, and workforce availability.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Jun 8, 2020 - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will hold a virtual public meeting of the Board of Scientific Counselors, Center for Preparedness and Response (BSC, CPR) on July 16, 2020. The agenda includes a discussion on CPR Director updates, BSC members' perspectives on COVID-19, and Preparedness and Response 2.0, among other things. Registration is limited to 500 seats.
Source: Federal Register
Jun 8, 2020 - Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Geoffrey Starks created the Digital Opportunity Equity Recognition (DOER) Program to commend organizations and individuals who have helped to make broadband service more available in unserved or underserved areas during the COVID-19 pandemic. Nominations for the first round of recognitions are due by July 8, 2020.
Source: Federal Communications Commission
Jun 8, 2020 - The Daily Yonder and the Rural Assembly are hosting a livestream on June 9, 2020 to discuss rural housing challenges and opportunities that have emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic. The panel includes experts on homeownership and rental housing, community development, rural data, and rural poverty.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Jun 8, 2020 - Notice of amendment from the Department of Health and Human Services to clarify that Covered Countermeasures under the Declaration include qualified pandemic and epidemic products that limit the harm COVID-19 might otherwise cause. This amendment is effective as of February 4, 2020.
Source: Federal Register
Jun 8, 2020 - A community task force in rural Kentucky parked a fishing tournament trailer in an empty church parking lot and converted it into a free COVID-19 testing center. Tests were administered free to anyone who received a clinician's order, including patients from neighboring states such as Illinois, Tennessee, and Missouri.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Jun 8, 2020 - Highlights a network of recovery programs in North Carolina that provide life-saving services to those recovering from drug misuse and abuse, as well as food, supplies, and other services to those in rural communities whose lives were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Describes how they are dedicated to meeting their communities' most immediate needs, but looking ahead to what they can provide during the winter months as well.
Source: 100 Days in Appalachia
Jun 5, 2020 - Executive Order from the Office of the President extending the date of federal support through August 21, 2020 for those states that have ordered the National Guard to provide emergency assistance activities related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Source: Federal Register
Jun 5, 2020 - The Food and Drug Administration has issued and reissued an Emergency Use Authorization for certain medical devices related to the COVID-19 pandemic. These authorizations are effective on their date of issuance.
Source: Federal Register
Jun 5, 2020 - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced new guidance that specifies additional data to be reported to HHS by laboratories along with Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) test results. The new reporting requirements include the collection of demographic data to ensure that all groups have equitable access to testing and to determine the burden of infection on vulnerable groups.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Jun 5, 2020 - The Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health (OASH) is requesting information to gain a more complete understanding of how organizations, networks, non-federal government agencies, and other relevant stakeholders have operationally defined "resilience" in their respective components of the health system, especially as it relates to resilience during disturbances such as the COVID-19 pandemic. OASH also seeks to identify opportunities to strengthen the U.S. healthcare system through public-private partnerships in data sharing and comprehensive analytics. Includes a set of questions to prompt responses from the public which are due by July 8, 2020.
Source: Federal Register
Jun 5, 2020 - Notice of rule from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) revising regulations for the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers (PCAFC) to relax the requirement for in-person home visits during COVID-19 pandemic in order to ensure the safety and well-being of veterans, caregivers, and VA clinical staff. This rule is effective June 5, 2020.
Source: Federal Register
Jun 4, 2020 - U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) approved more than $545 million in payments to more than 35,000 producers through the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program. The program provides assistance to producers who have been financially impacted by COVID-19. Applications are accepted through August 28, 2020.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
Jun 3, 2020 - The Census Bureau is seeking comment on the extension of a data collection through July 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 by August 3, 2020.
Source: Federal Register
Jun 3, 2020 - The Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Wireline Competition Bureau approved an additional 53 funding applications for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program. $16.46 million in funding will provide telehealth services to urban and rural healthcare providers during the coronavirus pandemic.
Source: Federal Communications Commission
Jun 3, 2020 - Interactive map shows new cases of COVID-19 in nonmetro counties for the month of May. Analysis finds 352 rural counties reported no additional cases in May, but other rural parts of the country, including the Navajo nation, were among the hardest hit and deadliest.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Jun 3, 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 June 3, 2020.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
Jun 2, 2020 - The Indian Health Service (IHS) announced that it is forming a Critical Care Response Team of physicians, registered nurses, and other healthcare professionals to provide urgent medical care to COVID-19 patients admitted to IHS or tribal hospitals. If a hospital or other medical location needs additional resources, the critical care response team can be at the bedside of the patient within 24-48 hours.
Source: Indian Health Service
Jun 2, 2020 - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (HHS ASPR) provided an additional $250 million to support healthcare systems with treating patients and responding to COVID-19. Funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act will help hospitals train the healthcare workforce, expand telemedicine, and procure supplies.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Jun 2, 2020 - The National Rural Health Association (NRHA) created the Rural COVID-19 Technical Assistance Center to help rural providers overcome barriers they face during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Technical Assistance Center will focus on finance/reimbursement and operations/supplies, assessing and triaging needs to ensure rural communities are equipped with knowledge, resources, and connections.
Source: National Rural Health Association
Jun 2, 2020 - Non-coronavirus patients avoid seeking emergency medical care in fear of the pandemic, so hospitals are bringing care to their patients through telehealth. Explains how rural patients will benefit from telemedicine after the pandemic and why it is necessary to address technological disparities between rural and urban areas. (May require a free account to view full article).
Source: National Geographic
Jun 1, 2020 - Jackman Community Health Center in rural Maine implemented a new model that recruits paramedics to work under remote direction of its doctors so they can continue to offer on-call overnight care during the coronavirus pandemic. Describes how the program could recruit more primary care providers to the area and be replicated in other rural communities.
Source: Bangor Daily News
Jun 1, 2020 - The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Wireline Competition Bureau issued a temporary waiver to allow Lifeline carriers to provide services to low-income consumers in rural Tribal areas even if they have not submitted documentation to complete their application. The waiver will allow consumers to access affordable broadband service necessary for telehealth, online learning, telework, and communicating with loved ones during the pandemic.
Source: Federal Communications Commission
Jun 1, 2020 - Discusses research that shows suicide rates in America have been rising for the past two years and are expected to continue to rise during the COVID-19 pandemic. Experts and researchers explain how a lack of access to mental healthcare in rural areas and a combination of economic failure, unemployment, social isolation, and uncertainty could result in additional deaths of despair.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Jun 1, 2020 - As rural hospitals in Wisconsin reopen, the facilities are taking steps to ensure the safety of their patients and staff and protect against new outbreaks. Steps include new sanitation procedures, COVID-19 tests for all patients, requiring masks, and separating COVID patients from the other patients.
Source: Wisconsin Public Radio
Jun 1, 2020 - The Small Business Administration has published an additional interim final rule, supplementing the previous rules for the CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The new rule is effective May 28, 2020 and provides guidelines on loan forgiveness policies under the PPP. Comments on the changes are due by July 1, 2020.
Source: Federal Register
Jun 1, 2020 - The Small Business Administration (SBA) has published an additional interim final rule, supplementing the previous rules for the CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The new rule is effective May 28, 2020 and provides information for borrowers and lenders on the SBA's process for reviewing PPP loan and loan forgiveness applications. Comments on the changes are due by July 1, 2020.
Source: Federal Register
Jun 1, 2020 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced enhanced enforcement for nursing homes with violations of longstanding infection control practices. CMS is also providing additional support through its Quality Improvement Organizations (QIOs), which will direct assistance to rural nursing homes serving vulnerable populations.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
May 28, 2020 - The Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Wireline Competition Bureau approved an additional 53 funding applications for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program to benefit 185 healthcare providers in rural and urban areas. The $18.22 million in funding will provide telehealth services during the coronavirus pandemic.
Source: Federal Communications Commission
May 28, 2020 - The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) awarded $15 million to 52 Tribes, Tribal organizations, urban Indian health organizations, and other health services providers to Tribes across 20 states to aid in COVID-19 response efforts. The funding is provided by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act and aims to support the healthcare workforce, maximize telehealth services, and increase testing capacity.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
May 28, 2020 - Explores the future of healthcare post COVID-19, discusses how changes in telehealth improved patient access to care and will continue to do so. Describes the negative impact of the pandemic on rural hospitals, but explains how our healthcare system can learn from the public health emergency.
Source: USA Today
May 28, 2020 - Summarizes an analysis that highlights how the meatpacking industry is intertwined with the continued spread of COVID-19 in rural areas. Describes how meatpacking plant outbreaks are primarily in rural areas, with rates of infection nearly five times the rates in rural areas without meatpacking plants.
Source: The Daily Yonder
May 27, 2020 - Discusses the challenges rural food banks in Texas are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic, including increasing demand, declining donations, and fewer volunteers. Describes how rural food banks are paying more for food due to supply chain issues, have had to hire more paid staff, and switch business models to ensure food is getting to those in need.
Source: Texas Monthly
May 27, 2020 - A retired engineer restores old computers and gives them to rural families in La Grange, Texas so they can participate in online learning. As more machines were donated, more locals volunteered to help refurbish the computers. Includes contact information for communities interested in setting up similar give-away programs.
Source: The Daily Yonder
May 26, 2020 - Discusses how small, rural grocery stores adapted during the COVID-19 pandemic to offer personalized services and provide for their customers. Describes how local grocery stores are stocked better than big box grocers because they want to make sure customers get what they need. Rural grocers take on whatever roles are necessary to stay in operation.
Source: Center for Rural Affairs
May 22, 2020 - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced it has begun distributing relief funds to skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) to aid in supporting COVID-19 response efforts. Funds may help nursing facilities address critical needs such as labor, testing capacity, personal protective equipment, and other related expenses.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
May 22, 2020 - The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy invites rural stakeholders to participate in a call to discuss federal efforts to increase access to substance use disorder treatment in rural areas during COVID-19. The call will take place on June 2, 2020.
Source: White House Office of National Drug Control Policy
May 22, 2020 - The United States Department of Agriculture's Rural Business-Cooperative Service and Rural Utilities Service has issued an interim final rule to update the Business and Industry (B&I) Guaranteed Loan Program to allow flexibility to obligate federal funds for guaranteed loans in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This rule is effective May 22, 2020 and applications will be accepted through June 22, 2020 or until funds are expended. Comments on the rule are due by June 22, 2020.
Source: Federal Register
May 22, 2020 - U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced the Department is making available up to $1 billion in loan guarantees to help rural businesses during the coronavirus pandemic. Also announced that agricultural producers not eligible for USDA Farm Service Agency loans may receive funding under the USDA Business & Industry (B&I) CARES Act Program.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
May 21, 2020 - The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced it is partnering with the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to promote the use of the $50 million in CARES Act funding to help address the digital divide during the COVID-19 pandemic. Funding was distributed to states and territories through State Library Administrative Agencies (SLAAs) and through grants to libraries and museums.
Source: Federal Communications Commission
May 21, 2020 - The Rural Housing Service (RHS) has issued a correction to the April 21, 2020 notice regarding requests for deferrals of loan payments for the Community Facilities program. On page 22009, in the DATES section, "May 12, 2020" should read "April 21, 2020".
Source: Federal Register
May 21, 2020 - As states lift stay-at-home restrictions, tourism experts discuss whether or not rural areas will see an influx of visitors Memorial Day weekend. Describes how travelers will be looking to spend time outdoors, and while some rural counties are ready to reopen, residents fear tourists will reintroduce COVID-19 into the community.
Source: Stateline, Pew Charitable Trusts
May 21, 2020 - Summarizes a survey that shows how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected nutrition programs in different geographic areas and population sizes. The survey found that rural areas had the lowest percentage of meal recipients who walked up to feeding sites or participated in drive-through feeding services, but the highest rates of meals delivered.
Source: The Rural Blog
May 21, 2020 - Notice of final rule from the Secretary of Agriculture that implements the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP). CFAP will provide direct payments to producers of eligible commodities that have been impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. This rule includes information on eligibility requirements, payment calculations and application procedures.
Source: Federal Register
May 20, 2020 - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released two resources to aid states, tribes, localities, and territories in safely reopening during the COVID-19 pandemic. The first summarizes CDC initiatives and includes information on infection control; the second resource is a set of health considerations to be used by summer camps, schools, youth sports organizations, institutes of higher education, and restaurants and bars.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
May 20, 2020 - Addresses the mental health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on America's farmers as they face additional stress and financial instability. Mental health advocates worry about the effects the pandemic will have on farmers and their families, including the potential for increased suicides and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Source: Side Effects Public Media
May 20, 2020 - The Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Wireline Competition Bureau approved an additional 43 rural and urban applications for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program. $16.87 million in funding will assist the healthcare providers in providing telehealth services during the coronavirus pandemic.
Source: Federal Communications Commission
May 20, 2020 - Features the Downtown Health Center, a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) in St. Joseph, Missouri that primarily serves the community's homeless population. However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the clinic cares for all residents to keep patients out of its one emergency room and prepares to offer more services, such as video appointments.
Source: Direct Relief
May 20, 2020 - The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) provided $225 million to over 4,500 Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) for COVID-19 testing. The funding is provided through the Paycheck Protection Program and Healthcare Enhancement Act and may be used to expand testing capacity, procure supplies for testing, train staff, report data, and build facilities to support COVID-19 response efforts.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
May 19, 2020 - The Census Bureau is seeking comment on a new information collection 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 by July 20, 2020.
Source: Federal Register
May 19, 2020 - The Census Bureau is seeking comment on a new information collection to determine the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the functioning of small businesses. Comments are due by July 20, 2020.
Source: Federal Register
May 19, 2020 - Rural domestic violence shelters in Texas have seen a decrease in clients and callers due to COVID-19 stay-at-home orders and shelters worry because they know it isn't a reflection of what is actually happening. Discusses how an inability to be discreet and limited personal contact with others makes it more difficult for victims to seek help, especially in rural areas.
Source: Texas Observer
May 19, 2020 - Features Social Distance Powwow, a Facebook group that hosts virtual powwows for Native Americans to continue to celebrate their culture during the COVID-19 pandemic. Discusses the disparities Native Americans face and the impact the pandemic has had on their communities, the virtual powwows act as a safe space to collectively share stories of struggles and triumphs.
Source: Cronkite News
May 19, 2020 - Discusses how the coronavirus pandemic affects mental health and describes that it is normal to feel stress under these circumstances. Recommends ways to build resilience and buffer negative stress responses, such as establishing a routine, practicing gratitude, staying socially connected, and utilizing available support services.
Source: Anchorage Daily News
May 19, 2020 - During the coronavirus pandemic, rural libraries continued to serve their communities by offering free Wi-Fi, providing laptops to patrons outside the closed buildings, and offering virtual storytimes online. As some counties reopen, libraries are taking measures to keep staff members and the public safe.
Source: The Daily Yonder
May 19, 2020 - The Small Business Administration has published an additional interim final rule, supplementing the previous rules for the CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). The new rule is effective May 19, 2020 and increases certain PPP loan amounts. Comments on the change are due by June 18, 2020.
Source: Federal Register
May 19, 2020 - U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue announced details of the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP), which will provide $16 billion in direct payments to America's farmers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic; applications can be submitted beginning May 26. Additionally, USDA's Farmers to Families Food Box program is partnering with distributors to purchase $3 billion in produce, dairy, and meat and deliver to those in need.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
May 18, 2020 - Describes initiatives implemented to expand telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic and how imperative the changes have been to increasing access to care and keeping patients healthy. Discusses how telehealth will become a standard of care, but should never replace in-person visits.
Source: Xtelligent Healthcare Media
May 18, 2020 - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is delivering $11 billion in new funding through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Indian Health Service (IHS) to support testing for COVID-19. Funding is provided by the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act to help states with their efforts to re-open America.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
May 18, 2020 - Final rule from the Department of Health and Human Services announcing that it will use its discretion in how it applies the Privacy, Security, and Breach Notifications Rules under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). In doing so, HHS will not impose penalties for noncompliance with the regulatory requirements under HIPAA rules against healthcare providers or their business associates in connection with the good faith participation in the operation of a community-based testing site during the COVID-19 during the COVID-19 pandemic. This rule is effective retroactively to March 13, 2020.
Source: Federal Register
May 18, 2020 - Sandhills Regional Medical Center in rural North Carolina has been closed for nearly three years, but was recently repurposed to care for regular patients during the coronavirus pandemic. While the facility is not currently needed, it remains set up and ready to go in the case that extra capacity is necessary.
Source: North Carolina Health News
May 18, 2020 - Analyzes the infection rate for the nation's 1,977 rural counties and lists the 25 rural counties with the highest rates of coronavirus infections. Identifies food-processing facilities, prisons, and nursing homes as sources of infections in the rural hotspot counties.
Source: The Daily Yonder
May 18, 2020 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced new guidance for state and local officials, detailing steps nursing homes and communities should take to prevent the spread of COVID-19 when reopening. Guidance encourages state leaders to collaborate with the state survey agency and local health departments and make decisions after reviewing several factors.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
May 16, 2020 - Williamson Memorial Hospital in rural West Virginia closed down in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, as it was unable to climb out of bankruptcy. Describes how hospital closures can affect the local economy and limit access to care, especially during a global pandemic.
Source: Los Angeles Times
May 15, 2020 - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is seeking comments on an information collection project to track COVID-19 infections among healthcare personnel. Comments are due by July 14, 2020.
Source: Federal Register
May 15, 2020 - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is seeking comments on an information collection titled "Investigation of SARS-CoV-2 Seroprevalence and Factors Associated with Seropositivity in a Community Setting." Data from this project will be used to determine the extent of COVID-19 infection in communities. Comments are due by July 14, 2020.
Source: Federal Register
May 15, 2020 - Examines how COVID-19 is spreading through U.S. communities. Identifies the largest increase in number of cases in Hispanic Centers, Native American Lands, and Rural Middle America. Explains that each of these communities has their own driving factors and the increase could be contributed to prevalence of meat-packing plants, a lack of health insurance, and higher rates of chronic disease.
Source: American Communities Project
May 15, 2020 - Announcement from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of a public meeting of the Advisory Committee on Infant Mortality (ACIM) to be held via webinar on June 17-18, 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
May 15, 2020 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the extension of three nationwide waivers, allowing child nutrition program operators to continue to feed children while promoting social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some efforts to feed children in need include setting up drive-thru pick-up locations and delivering meals via school buses.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
May 14, 2020 - Appalachia has seen a rise in substance use disorder relapses as the coronavirus pandemic continues. Health officials attribute this to social distancing measures that strip recovering addicts of crucial support systems. Discusses how the pandemic takes a physical and emotional toll on those recovering from substance use disorders and describes how online forums and meeting platforms attempt to fill the support gaps.
Source: 100 Days in Appalachia
May 14, 2020 - For rural people with substance use disorders, it can be difficult to access behavioral health treatment, and pressures from the COVID-19 pandemic only makes it harder. With lockdowns, financial stress, isolation, and the closures of healthcare practices, rural residents lose their care and support systems.
Source: The Daily Yonder
May 14, 2020 - The Federal Communications Commission's Wireline Competition Bureau approved an additional 33 funding applications for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program. $8.36 million in funding will go to rural and urban healthcare providers to support telehealth services during COVID-19.
Source: Federal Communications Commission
May 14, 2020 - The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), announced a new funding opportunity announcement (FOA) that will award $5 million to support studies that help understand the ways in which our health systems were impacted by COVID-19. The deadline for submitting applications is June 15, 2020.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
May 14, 2020 - The coronavirus pandemic is hitting many rural communities hard. In response, medical schools and teaching hospitals work to set up testing sites, educate patients and physicians, and provide essential care.
Source: Association of American Medical Colleges
May 14, 2020 - Rural Toole County quickly became Montana's hot spot for coronavirus infections and county officials worry the disease will breach the local correctional facility. Discusses how an outbreak in the prison could overwhelm medical resources in the area and describes efforts by the county and the Montana Department of Corrections to respond in the event this happens.
Source: Kaiser Health News
May 13, 2020 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a new toolkit to help nursing homes, and agencies who provide oversight and assistance to these facilities, combat the COVID-19 pandemic. The toolkit includes resources and direction for quality improvement assistance and helps facilities implement interventions to mitigate the spread of the disease.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
May 13, 2020 - Describes how the COVID-19 threat is growing in rural areas, including concerns about the older and sicker population that tends to reside in rural communities. Discusses where the virus may be transmitted in small towns, challenges associated with testing and contact tracing, and the struggles of rural hospitals.
Source: U.S. News & World Report
May 13, 2020 - Executive Order from the Office of the President directing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) of the Department of Homeland Security to fully fund emergency assistance activities undertaken by the National Guard Forces in South Dakota in response to the COVID-19 epidemic.
Source: Federal Register
May 13, 2020 - The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has released an interim final rule as part of its response to the COVID-19 public health emergency to establish standards and procedures by which they may require certain contracts and orders that promote the national defense be given priority over other contracts and orders. The rule is effective May 13, 2020.
Source: Federal Register
May 13, 2020 - The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) awarded $15 million through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act to 159 organizations across five health workforce programs. The funding aims to increase telehealth capabilities and maintain primary care services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
May 13, 2020 - The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced the 2020 COVID-19 Emergency Response for Suicide Prevention (COVID-19 ERSP) grant program which will award $40 million to 50 grantees. The program aims to support states and communities in implementing efforts to prevent suicide during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
May 12, 2020 - Notice of interim final rule and comment request from the Department of Defense to provide exceptions related to telehealth services provided by TRICARE-authorized providers during the COVID-19 pandemic. This interim rule is effective on May 12, 2020 through the end of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Source: Federal Register
May 12, 2020 - 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
May 12, 2020 - Notice from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to clarify the application process, deadlines, and awards selection criteria for the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program Supplement. Funds from the program are to be used for the purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Source: Federal Register
May 12, 2020 - Announcement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) of a virtual public meeting on May 21, 2020 to develop a voluntary agreement to help provide for the national defense by maximizing the effectiveness of the distribution of critical medical resources nationwide to respond to pandemics in general, and COVID-19 specifically. If necessary, a second meeting will take place on May 27, 2020. Written comments should be submitted by May May 20, 2020.
Source: Federal Register
May 12, 2020 - Summarizes an analysis of data that found 470,000 dwellings in the United States lack adequate plumbing, making it more difficult to practice sanitation recommendations and prevent the spread of COVID-19. Describes how those in rural homes and Native villages are less likely than other Americans to have access to running water and other utilities.
Source: Kaiser Health News
May 11, 2020 - As coronavirus spreads to rural areas of North Carolina, data shows a disproportionate burden of cases per capita. Discusses how COVID-19 accentuates existing rural disparities and how tight social connections contribute to the transmission. Describes the approaches state health departments are taking to help allocate resources to rural hospitals.
Source: The Daily Yonder
May 11, 2020 - Doctors Without Borders sent a team of nine to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic unfolding in the Navajo Nation. Discusses how Native Americans are at a much higher risk for complications from the disease due to limited access to healthcare, food, and water, as well as higher chronic disease rates.
Source: CBS
May 10, 2020 - The COVID-19 pandemic has made internet access necessary to those working and learning from home. Highlights county efforts to increase access to sufficient broadband in rural areas across the country, including strategies such as setting up Wi-Fi hotspots in parking lots, school and transit buses, county-owned facilities, and other public spaces.
Source: National Association of Counties
May 8, 2020 - Notice of interim final rule with comment period from the Health Resources and Services Administrations and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services giving flexibility to those providing services to Medicare, Medicaid, Basic Health Program, and Exchange beneficiaries in order to respond effectively to the COVID-19 pandemic. Provides a table outlining flexibilities and the dates in which they are applicable, including those for providers and facilities in rural areas. This interim rule is effective May 8, 2020 and comments are due July 7, 2020.
Source: Federal Register
May 8, 2020 - Features four rural family foundations and their responses to COVID-19, the outlook for the future, and current and potential challenges. Rasmuson Foundation in Alaska created a statewide COVID-19 response fund; T.L.L. Temple Foundation in Texas supports their current grantees focused on providing basic needs; JF Maddox Foundation in New Mexico responds rapidly to the needs of nonprofits; and the Lumpkin Family Foundation in Illinois prepares for the economic impact on grantees.
Source: National Center for Family Philanthropy
May 8, 2020 - The National Rural Health Association (NRHA) and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) partnered to present a series of regional webinars highlighting funding available to rural healthcare providers through the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). A total of six webinars will be presented on May 11 and May 12, 2020.
Source: National Rural Health Association
May 8, 2020 - The Small Business Administration (SBA) has issued an interim final rule for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to supplement the previously posted interim final rules by providing guidance on nondiscrimination obligations and additional eligibility requirements. Comments on the changes are due by June 8, 2020.
Source: Federal Register
May 8, 2020 - Interview with the senior director of research and program operations for the National WIC Association (NWA) and the director of nutrition policy and early childhood programs at the Food Research Action Center (FRAC). Discusses the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and the support the program gives to families during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Source: State of Childhood Obesity
May 7, 2020 - The agricultural industry has been struggling for years, and challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic only add to the pressures farmers are currently under. Discusses how rural mental healthcare gaps, stigma, lack of health insurance, and financial blows from COVID-19 make it difficult for farmers to receive the mental healthcare they need.
Source: Kaiser Health News
May 7, 2020 - Expanded access to telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic has made it easier for patients in rural areas to receive necessary care, but the urban-rural broadband divide poses separate challenges. Rural health advocates hope the telehealth flexibilities will become permanent to help providers continue to connect with their patients.
Source: U.S. News & World Report
May 7, 2020 - The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) awarded $583 million to 1,385 HRSA-funded health centers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and eight U.S. territories to expand COVID-19 testing. The funding is provided by the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act and will be used to expand the range of testing and testing-related activities to best address the needs of their local communities.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
May 7, 2020 - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) extended the deadline for healthcare providers to attest the receipt of payments from the Provider Relief Fund and accept the Terms and Conditions. The funding will be used to support healthcare-related expenses or lost revenue from COVID-19 and providers receiving payments will now have 45 days.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
May 6, 2020 - The Federal Communications Commission's Wireline Competition Bureau approved an additional 26 applications for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program. The list of awardees includes applicants that serve rural populations in Texas, Oregon, and Pennsylvania.
Source: Federal Communications Commission
May 6, 2020 - Remote Area Medical (RAM) typically provides free healthcare services via pop-up medical clinics to those in rural areas who cannot otherwise afford care, but the coronavirus pandemic brought RAM operations to a halt. In an effort to help, RAM organized volunteers to run drive-through test sites in rural communities.
Source: The Daily Yonder
May 5, 2020 - The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued guidance reminding healthcare providers that the HIPAA Privacy Rule does not permit them to give media and film crews access to facilities where patients' protected health information (PHI) may be accessible without prior authorization. Explains that healthcare providers must obtain valid HIPAA authorization from each patient before media has access to PHI.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
May 5, 2020 - During the coronavirus pandemic, Americans without internet access are relying on free Wi-Fi in the parking lots of businesses and schools. Describes our dependence on broadband in order to work and study from home and discusses efforts to close the digital divide in rural areas.
Source: New York Times
May 5, 2020 - As social distancing measures loosen in areas across the U.S., experts worry that the next COVID-19 outbreaks could impact rural areas more. Discusses how rural areas are vulnerable due to higher poverty rates, less access to healthcare, and a higher age demographic.
Source: United Press International
May 4, 2020 - In a rural county in Tennessee, a spike in suicides led a local congressman to invite residents to call his cell number if they needed someone to talk to. Discusses the impact of COVID-19 social distancing measures on access to mental health services and highlights ways in which providers utilize telehealth, online resources, and hotlines.
Source: Vice
May 4, 2020 - The Small Business Administration has issued an interim final rule to supercede all earlier versions of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) interim final rule. Changes to the rule are effective May 4, 2020 and concern limitations on the amount of PPP loans that any single corporate group may receive and provide guidance on the criteria for non-bank lender participation in the program.
Source: Federal Register
May 4, 2020 - The Small Business Administration (SBA) has issued an interim final rule for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to supplement the previously posted interim final rules with additional guidance to provide clarity on program requirements. This interim final rule supplements SBA's implementation of the Act and requests public comment by June 3, 2020.
Source: Federal Register
May 4, 2020 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary issued a statement on the announcement that agricultural producers are now eligible to apply for the Small Business Administration (SBA)'s Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) and EIDL Advance programs. The SBA is reopening the Loan and Advance application portal to agricultural enterprises as a result of funding authorized through the Paycheck Protection Program and Healthcare Enhancement Act.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
May 3, 2020 - 60 Minutes interview with a doctor and nurse practitioner in rural Texas, as well as the Commissioner of the State Office of Rural Health regarding COVID-19's effect on the rural healthcare system. The nurse practitioner drives to patients homes to care for them and the doctor forgoes her paycheck to help her hospital save money.
Source: CBS News

Last Updated: 7/2/2020