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

News stories from the past 60 days.

Apr 3, 2020 - A member of a volunteer fire department in rural Wisconsin describes how she began sewing face masks for healthcare workers and community members during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Includes care instructions and a step-by-step guide to making your own mask.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Apr 3, 2020 - Pre-publication notice from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services stating that it will exercise its discretion in how it applies the Privacy Rule under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996 and will not impose potential penalties for violations of certain provisions of HIPAA during the COVID-19 public health emergency. This enforcement discretion is effective until the public health emergency declaration expires.
Source: Federal Register
Apr 3, 2020 - Contains a list of states and territories that have issued Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) declarations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. EIDL load application deadlines are between December 16-21, 2020.
Source: Federal Register
Apr 2, 2020 - The American Medical Association (AMA) announced mental health resources available to help physicians cope with the stress induced by the coronavirus pandemic. Includes recommendations on how physicians can take care of themselves and their staff and patients, as well as a free subscription to a guided meditation app.
Source: American Medical Association
Apr 2, 2020 - Features the Saginaw Valley State University-organized Project ECHO which holds bi-weekly teleconferences to connect healthcare providers from across the country with substance use disorder experts. Describes how coronavirus and social distancing practices have affected those recovering from substance use disorder, and highlights SVSU's efforts to provide support.
Source: Saginaw Valley State University
Apr 2, 2020 - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a second webinar to update rural stakeholders on the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The call will be held Wednesday, April 8, 2020.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Apr 2, 2020 - The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced the distribution of hoarded personal protective equipment (PPE) to those on the frontline of coronavirus response in New York and New Jersey. Includes contact information to report suspected hoarding and price gouging of PPE.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Apr 2, 2020 - The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted a $200 million telehealth program to support healthcare providers respond to the coronavirus pandemic. The FCC also adopted final rules for a Connected Care Pilot Program, which will provide an additional $100 million from the Universal Service Fund to support the long-term use of telehealth.
Source: Federal Communications Commission
Apr 2, 2020 - Pre-publication notice of interim final rule with comment period from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to create broad flexibilities for healthcare facilities and providers so that they can adequately provide services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Includes details about changes to payment policies and regulations for a variety of services. The regulations are applicable beginning March 1, 2020 and comments will be accepted through June 1, 2020.
Source: Federal Register
Apr 2, 2020 - Pre-publication notice of temporary rule from the Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division to implement public health emergency leave under Title I of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), and emergency paid sick leave to assist those facing public health emergencies due to COVID-19. The rule is effective April 2, 2020 - December 31, 2020.
Source: Federal Register
Apr 2, 2020 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued new critical recommendations to nursing homes, state and local governments to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Some recommendations include implementing symptom screening for all persons within nursing homes, ensuring proper use and conservation of personal protective equipment, and designating separate staff teams for residents.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Apr 1, 2020 - Features an emergency medicine physician at a hospital in rural Gunnison County, Colorado, one of the nation's COVID-19 epicenters. Describes the adjustments he has made at home to protect his family – and his mental health – from the disease.
Source: High Country News
Apr 1, 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 Connecticut, Illinois, and Michigan in response to the COVID-19 epidemic.
Source: Federal Register
Apr 1, 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 Florida, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Guam, and Puerto Rico in response to the COVID-19 epidemic.
Source: Federal Register
Apr 1, 2020 - Executive Order from the Office of the President delegating certain authorities to the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the Secretary of Homeland Security to ensure adequate health and medical resources used in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Source: Federal Register
Apr 1, 2020 - Executive Order from the Office of the President providing authority to the Secretaries of Defense and Homeland Security to order members of the Selected Reserve and the Individual Ready Reserve to active duty to assist with the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Source: Federal Register
Apr 1, 2020 - The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved requests to allow rural phone and broadband providers to waive fees incurred by customers experiencing economic challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ensures rural residents do not have to pay late, installation, or termination fees as part of the Keep Americans Connected pledge.
Source: Federal Communications Commission
Apr 1, 2020 - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) encourages hospitals and health systems to direct COVID-19 questions to a new email, HospitalCOVID19@hhs.gov. The email serves as a resource to triage COVID-19 inquiries across HHS's offices and other relevant federal agencies.
Source: American Hospital Association
Apr 1, 2020 - Notice stating that, in light of the public health emergency involving COVID-19, the Secretary of Health and Human Services has authorized the emergency use of drugs and biological products during the COVID-19 pandemic, effective March 27, 2020.
Source: Federal Register
Apr 1, 2020 - Highlights actions that rural funders can take to make a difference during the COVID-19 outbreak. Some ideas include facilitating federal/state funding, using social connections to find opportunities, ensure funding is reaching underserved populations, and supporting the dissemination of accurate COVID-19 information.
Source: PhilanthropywoRx
Apr 1, 2020 - Provides a look into a small, remote town in Alaska, where nearly 80 percent of the population lives in a single building. Discusses what could happen if the community was exposed to coronavirus and whether or not they are doing enough to stay safe.
Source: Anchorage Daily News
Apr 1, 2020 - University of Alabama at Birmingham created an online symptom checker to identify hot spots and monitor the spread of coronavirus in underserved and rural areas of the Deep South. Describes how the data will be used to understand health disparities and identify priorities during the course of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Source: University of Alabama at Birmingham
Apr 1, 2020 - Summarizes data that shows coronavirus is spreading in rural areas at a rate similar to that in urban areas. Includes a map of coronavirus cases by county, describes how COVID-19 hit recreation-based economies first, but is continuing to spread into all parts of the rural economy.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Apr 1, 2020 - Summarizes data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that shows patients with underlying health issues are more likely to need treatment in a hospital and are at a higher risk of dying if exposed to coronavirus. Describes how the disease could affect minority, low-income, and rural populations with existing health disparities.
Source: NPR
Mar 31, 2020 - Interview with Dr. Robert Redfield, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), on the COVID-19 outbreak and what we can expect in the next few months. Describes social distancing as a powerful tool in mitigating the spread of the virus and highlights the need for investing in public health.
Source: NPR
Mar 31, 2020 - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued an open letter to the healthcare community asking they implement measures to maximize the number of ventilators available during the coronavirus pandemic. The measures include adhering to social distancing practices, optimizing the use of mechanical ventilators, ensuring data driven requests and usage of the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) of ventilators and equipment, and increasing the capacity of the SNS.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Mar 31, 2020 - Interview with the president of New Ulm Medical Center, a Critical Access Hospital in Minnesota. Discusses how the hospital has shifted operations to prepare for COVID-19, including shifting to a virtual care model to meet ongoing care needs of their rural population.
Source: The Commonwealth Fund
Mar 31, 2020 - Announcement from USDA's Rural Utilities Service, Rural Housing Service, and Rural-Business Cooperative Service temporarily allowing lenders with guaranteed loans to unilaterally offer payment deferrals to their customers who may be experiencing cash flow problems due to the coronavirus pandemic. This policy is effective March 31, 2020 through September 30, 2020.
Source: Federal Register
Mar 31, 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.
Mar 30, 2020 - The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai announced his plan for a COVID-19 Telehealth Program, which includes $200 million to support healthcare providers responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. The program would help providers purchase telehealth equipment and necessary bandwidth to provide remote care to uninfected patients.
Source: Federal Communications Commission
Mar 30, 2020 - Highlights the Cooperative Extension Service, the Extension Disaster Education Network (EDEN), and their coordinated response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Features professionals from the Mississippi State University Extension and how they are adjusting to provide reliable and up-to-date information on coronavirus.
Source: JPHMP Direct
Mar 30, 2020 - The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) created the Supply Chain Stabilization Task Force to address the limited supply of protective and life-saving equipment during the coronavirus pandemic. Describes how the task force is increasing availability of critical resources through preservation of equipment, acceleration of industrial manufacturing, expansion of the industry, and allocation of resources.
Source: Federal Emergency Management Agency
Mar 30, 2020 - The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a waiver order that allows eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) to use their high-cost legacy support in areas that have been the most affected by COVID-19. The waiver is currently in effect until June 30, 2020.
Source: Federal Communications Commission
Mar 30, 2020 - Notice of Executive Order from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services publishing a list of medical resources that are needed to combat the spread of COVID-19 which have been designated as scarce or which are likely to be in short supply and should not be hoarded, effective March 25, 2020.
Source: Federal Register
Mar 30, 2020 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued regulatory waivers and new rules to allow the U.S. healthcare system flexibility in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some changes include temporarily allowing hospitals to expand treatment capacity by triaging uninfected patients to other community-based locations, as well as allowing providers to receive reimbursement for evaluating beneficiaries over audio-only phones. CMS also provides additional background on the changes.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Mar 29, 2020 - Discusses the reopening of closed rural hospitals to potentially serve as a safety valve for urban hospitals overrun with coronavirus patients. Addresses the financial toll coronavirus has brought upon rural hospitals and describes how existing challenges are only worsened by the issue.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Mar 29, 2020 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) sent a letter to hospitals requesting they report data on their efforts to combat the 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). CMS is specifically requesting hospitals report data on COVID-19 testing to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and daily reporting on bed capacity and supplies to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Mar 28, 2020 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced an expansion of its accelerated and advance payment program for Medicare participating healthcare providers and suppliers to lessen the financial hardships of providers during the COVID-19 outbreak. Includes qualification requirements for providers to receive payments.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Mar 27, 2020 - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has added coronavirus disease (COVID-19) to the List of Potentially Life-Threatening Infectious Disease to Which Emergency Response Employees May be Exposed. Includes information on how medical facilities should make determinations about exposures.
Source: Federal Register
Mar 27, 2020 - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) to help increase the supply of ventilators and filtering facepiece respirators (FFRs) due to shortages during COVID-19. The EUA allows for the emergency use in healthcare settings of certain ventilators and other eligible modified machines.
Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Mar 27, 2020 - The Georgia Rural Health Innovation Center at Mercer University School of Medicine and the Georgia Partnership for Telehealth (GPT) joined forces to offer rural physicians free access to GPT's telehealth consultation software for six months. The telehealth system allows rural residents to receive secure, high-quality care from physicians during the coronavirus pandemic.
Source: Mercer University
Mar 27, 2020 - Notice stating that, in light of the public health emergency involving COVID-19, the Secretary of Health and Human Services has authorized the emergency use of medical devices, including alternative products used as medical devices, during the COVID-19 outbreak, effective March 24, 2020.
Source: Federal Register
Mar 27, 2020 - Interview with Lynn Barr, CEO of Caravan Health, on how they are responding to the coronavirus pandemic. Discusses strategies to address COVID-19 and healthcare capacity in rural areas, offers advice on addressing chronic care needs among older populations.
Source: The Commonwealth Fund
Mar 27, 2020 - The U.S Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced that their COVID-19 Response Plan is now available to the public. Describes how the VA has shifted some outpatient care to telehealth and implemented two zones in all of their facilities – one for COVID-19 patients and another for all other care.
Source: U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs
Mar 26, 2020 - The American Medical Association (AMA) announced new coding procedures to assist physicians and practices using Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) to properly report medical services provided to COVID-19 patients. Includes coding advice for office, telehealth, and online services offered to COVID-19 patients, as well as a flow-chart for CPT reporting for COVID-19 testing.
Source: American Medical Association
Mar 26, 2020 - The National Rural Health Association is requesting commentaries and letters to the editor that describe problems and solutions pertaining to COVID-19 prevention, mitigation, and containment in rural areas. Submissions do not require peer review and if chosen, are to be published in the Journal of Rural Health.
Source: National Rural Health Association
Mar 26, 2020 - Executive Order from the Office of the President delegating authority to the Secretary of Health and Human Services to implement restrictions on the hoarding of health and medical resources that are necessary to respond to the spread of COVID-19 and to gather information on the distribution of supplies throughout the country.
Source: Federal Register
Mar 26, 2020 - Executive Order from the Office of the President provides information about the use of National Guard units to support the response to COVID-19 in California, New York, and Washington.
Source: Federal Register
Mar 26, 2020 - The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued relief for Rural Health Care Program participants during the coronavirus pandemic. Actions taken include extending the RHC Program application filing window to June 30, 2020, easing competitive bidding requirements for health care providers with expiring evergreen contracts, and extending deadlines for responses to inquiries from the Universal Service Administrative Company.
Source: Federal Communications Commission
Mar 26, 2020 - Summarizes the third in a series of three bills passed by the Senate in response to COVID-19. Lists important provisions, including additional funds to support rural hospitals, Critical Access Hospitals, community health centers, and Indian Health Services, as well as the expansion of telehealth.
Source: National Rural Health Association
Mar 26, 2020 - More than 100 rural counties reported their first case of coronavirus, bringing the total number of rural counties reporting the virus to 606. Includes a list of the rural counties with reported cases, with Texas and Alabama reporting the most.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Mar 26, 2020 - People are fleeing big cities and heading to smaller, rural towns in an effort to escape the coronavirus. Experts describe how this is a natural response to an emergency, but warn that it could further spread the disease and overwhelm healthcare facilities in rural areas.
Source: Business Insider
Mar 26, 2020 - Highlights provisions for Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act passed on March 25th, 2020. Includes details on the Small Business Adminstration's 7(a) loan program, the expansion of the Medicare accelerated payment program, and extended funding for several healthcare programs.
Source: National Association of Rural Health Clinics
Mar 26, 2020 - Describes how rural hospitals in Maine are preparing for coronavirus, including a group of hospital workers that are sewing medical gowns to supplement a diminishing supply of personal protective equipment and a facility that has converted a conference room into space to absorb patients in the event of a surge of patients.
Source: Maine Public
Mar 26, 2020 - Features several counties across the country who are addressing the challenges homeless populations face during the coronavirus outbreak. Strategies include opening seasonal shelters to increase capacity, distancing beds, and distributing health and education materials.
Source: National Association of Counties
Mar 25, 2020 - Tennessee government officials prepare to re-open some shuttered rural hospitals if existing facilities in the state become overwhelmed by coronavirus patients.
Source: The Tennessean
Mar 25, 2020 - Describes how rural counties with high populations of older Americans could potentially be hit hard by coronavirus. Discusses measures that healthcare providers in areas with large elderly populations are taking, such as social distancing, utilizing telemedicine, and encouraging patients to stay away unless it is an emergency.
Source: USA Today
Mar 25, 2020 - The American Hospital Association (AHA) provides details on public assistance (PA) funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) available during the COVID-19 pandemic. Describes program eligibility and covers the PA program application process for hospitals and healthcare systems.
Source: American Hospital Association
Mar 25, 2020 - Features several U.S. counties and the actions they are taking to mitigate the spread of the novel coronavirus disease in their communities. Some strategies include limiting the hours of public offices, allowing employees to work from home, closing down parks and public spaces, and offering free childcare for county employees.
Source: National Association of Counties
Mar 25, 2020 - Provides overview of the $2 Trillion stimulus package the Senate approved to address the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Includes details on funding to expand services and capacity for rural hospitals, funding to help procure personal protective equipment, ventilators and other medical supplies, and other provisions impacting states.
Source: National Conference of State Legislators
Mar 25, 2020 - The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced their process for making FDA guidance documents related to COVID-19 available to the public in a timely manner.
Source: Federal Register
Mar 25, 2020 - Summarizes an analysis that found rural counties with recreation economies have rates of coronavirus infection greater than smaller metropolitan areas and other rural counties. Includes a county map indicating rurality and number of reported cases of coronavirus.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Mar 25, 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.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
Mar 24, 2020 - Several measures have been taken by the federal government to lower barriers to virtual healthcare services during the coronavirus outbreak, but many rural areas still lack the internet access necessary to utilize telehealth. Describes how this disparity may put rural residents at risk if they have to leave their home to receive care, introduces possible solutions to the issue.
Source: Morning Consult
Mar 24, 2020 - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced $250 million in grants from the Administration for Community Living (ACL) to help communities provide meals for older adults. This additional funding will bolster nutritional service programs that provide home-delivered meals and other services to help protect older Americans during the coronavirus outbreak.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Mar 24, 2020 - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded $100 million to 1,381 health centers through the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act. The funding will support HRSA-funded health centers with their emergency planning and response efforts, including screening and testing needs, the acquisition of medical supplies, and telehealth capacity during the coronavirus pandemic.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Mar 24, 2020 - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (HHS ASPR) announced it will award $100 million in funding to the U.S. healthcare systems preparing for a surge in COVID-19 patients. The funds will directly support the National Special Pathogen System and provide healthcare workers with necessary training and resources.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Mar 24, 2020 - Examines how the coronavirus outbreak is amplifying health disparities among homeless, low-income, elderly and rural populations. Describes how social determinants of health affect these populations and limits the care they receive during public health emergencies.
Source: Xtelligent Healthcare Media
Mar 24, 2020 - Analyzes the risks that rural areas of the country face if exposed to coronavirus, including health and economic consequences. Includes statistics on the prevalence of chronic disease, test kit availability, and percentage of recreation dependent counties in rural versus urban areas.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Mar 24, 2020 - Community health centers received supplemental funding in response to the coronavirus pandemic, but clinics still worry about their financial future. Describes how health centers have had to eliminate some services to make room for COVID-19 patients, shifting resources away from primary care to pandemic response.
Source: NPR
Mar 24, 2020 - Analyzes the increasing rural hospital closures in Appalachia and the possible long-term effects a coronavirus outbreak could have on already-struggling healthcare facilities. Describes strategies some rural hospitals are taking to mitigate a potential surge in COVID-19 patients.
Source: 100 Days in Appalachia
Mar 23, 2020 - Addresses the difficulties West Virginians experiencing homelessness face when protecting themselves from coronavirus. In an effort to help, Project HOPE makes "street rounds" by traveling to camps and shelters to offer medical care and provide kits with hand sanitizer and other items.
Source: West Virginia Public Broadcasting
Mar 23, 2020 - As the coronavirus epidemic forces many to stay home, telehealth treatment for substance abuse becomes necessary to deliver care to those who need it. Highlights a new virtual care system that utilizes video conferencing to allow patients to receive counseling in their own home and discusses how rural providers can receive virtual training through a hub-and-spoke model.
Source: PBS
Mar 23, 2020 - The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) approved an additional 11 state Medicaid waiver requests under Section 1135 of the Social Security Act. The waivers provide regulatory relief and support to help states effectively care for their vulnerable citizens.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Mar 23, 2020 - Highlights actions several counties across the country have taken to mitigate the spread of coronavirus among their elderly and vulnerable residents. Strategies include utilizing teachers and volunteers to deliver necessary supplies and call seniors' homes.
Source: National Association of Counties
Mar 23, 2020 - Executive Order from the Office of the President regarding policies and priorities for the allocation of medical resources needed to respond to the spread of COVID-19.
Source: Federal Register
Mar 23, 2020 - Traveling doctors and nurses could act as a solution to the physician gap in rural America – especially during the coronavirus outbreak. Describes how relaxed licensing requirements have made it easier for travel nurses to move state to state, but a depleting supply of personal protective equipment still remains a concern for rural hospitals.
Source: NPR
Mar 22, 2020 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced it is granting exceptions from reporting requirements and extensions for clinicians and facilities participating in Medicare quality reporting programs. Includes information and submission deadlines for provider programs, hospital programs, and post-acute care programs.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Mar 22, 2020 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced four new tools to support state Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Programs (CHIP) during the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The checklists will permit states to access emergency administrative relief, make temporary modifications to Medicaid eligibility, relax rules, and modify payment rules.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Mar 21, 2020 - Hospitals are canceling elective procedures to free up resources for coronavirus patients, but many rural hospitals rely on the revenue from those procedures to continue operations. Discusses how the coronavirus outbreak will hurt rural hospitals that are already in the red and stretched for resources.
Source: Kaiser Health News
Mar 20, 2020 - Summarizes an analysis which found over half of counties in America have no intensive care beds, posing a risk for older residents who are more susceptible to serious illness due to COVID-19. Describes how hospitals in urban and rural areas may have to decide how to ration scarce resources.
Source: Kaiser Health News
Mar 20, 2020 - Rural hospitals across Washington state are preparing for the spread of coronavirus by rationing personal protective equipment, setting up triage tents, and popping up COVID-19 clinics. Describes how Critical Access Hospitals are also having to extensively track finances, resources, and staff to continue operations.
Source: Crosscut
Mar 20, 2020 - The U.S. Department of Health and Human (HHS) announced that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will provide $80 million in funding to tribes, tribal organizations, and Urban Indian Organizations to support response to the 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Additional funding is also made available by the Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Mar 20, 2020 - Examines how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting the already-struggling rural healthcare system. Discusses economic and systemic barriers to healthcare access in rural areas, especially for Latino and other minority populations. Includes resources to manage and prevent coronavirus in rural areas.
Source: Salud America
Mar 19, 2020 - Recent regulatory changes have made it easier for patients to utilize telehealth, but rural hospitals in Colorado face many barriers to implement the necessary virtual systems. Analyzes how rural hospitals and clinics are handling the coronavirus outbreak with limited resources.
Source: The Colorado Sun
Mar 19, 2020 - The U.S. House of Representatives approved a second coronavirus aid package, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. The five main provisions of the act include free coronavirus testing, food assistance, an increase in the Medicaid Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) rate, unemployment aid, and paid sick and medical leave.
Source: National Association of Counties
Mar 19, 2020 - Discusses the impact that coronavirus will have on healthcare facilities in Appalachia. Includes statistics on access to care, poverty, and the general health of residents in Appalachian states.
Source: 100 Days in Appalachia
Mar 19, 2020 - Analyzes healthcare capacity in Western states, identifying rural areas as having more hospital beds per person than urban areas. Includes county statistics on the number of hospital beds and residents over the age of 65, as well as the number of hospitals.
Source: High Country News
Mar 19, 2020 - Analyzes flu death rates across the country as a model for the coronavirus outbreak, identifying rural areas as having higher flu death rates than metropolitan areas. Researchers attribute the disparity to limited access to healthcare and fewer resources in rural areas.
Source: The Washington Post
Mar 19, 2020 - Features the Shoalwater Bay Reservation in Washington State who is preparing for the arrival of the novel coronavirus. Discusses the challenges Indian Health Service facilities face when addressing public health crises, such as lack of funding and high rates of chronic disease.
Source: NPR
Mar 18, 2020 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced all elective, non-essential surgeries and procedures to be delayed during the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. These recommendations are to help healthcare providers ensure the availability of beds, equipment, personnel, and resources to care for patients who are most in need.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Mar 18, 2020 - The COVID-19 pandemic has led many schools and businesses to continue online, revealing a digital divide that exists in rural and low-income areas of the country. Discusses challenges to broadband access as well as federal and commercial efforts to expand internet connection and build networks in these areas.
Source: CNET
Mar 18, 2020 - President Trump has declared the COVID-19 outbreak a national emergency, effective March 1, 2020 and directs the Secretary of the Health and Human Services to temporarily waive or modify certain requirements of the Medicare, Medicaid, and State Children's Health Insurance programs and of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act Privacy Rule throughout the duration of the emergency.
Source: Federal Register
Mar 18, 2020 - President Trump announces the intent to facilitate requests that would allow States the flexibility to authorize laboratories with their state to develop and perform tests used to detect COVID-19.
Source: Federal Register
Mar 18, 2020 - The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced changes to the Rural Health Care (RHC) and E-Rate programs to make it easier for broadband providers to support telehealth and remote learning during the coronavirus outbreak. Changes include temporarily waiving the gift rules so broadband providers can offer RHC and E-Rate program participants better internet access and equipment.
Source: Federal Communications Commission
Mar 18, 2020 - Interview with Drew Harris, an assistant professor in the Thomas Jefferson University College of Population Health, discussing the importance of social distancing and flattening the coronavirus curve. Describes how rural areas could be affected by an outbreak, highlighting how rural communities tend to be farther apart and more protected from the spread of the virus.
Source: U.S. News & World Report
Mar 18, 2020 - The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) announced they will be surveying HRSA-funded health centers on their involvement in COVID-19 response. This was made possible due to the Paperwork Reduction Act waiver granted to HRSA as part of efforts to reduce regulatory burdens in support of COVID-19 response.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Mar 18, 2020 - The U.S. Department of Labor announced the availability of up to $100 million in Dislocated Worker Grants (DWGs) to help address workforce-related impacts of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency. Eligible participants include dislocated workers, those laid off as a result of coronavirus, and long-term unemployed individuals.
Source: U.S. Department of Labor
Mar 17, 2020 - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced a webinar to update rural stakeholders on the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The call will be held Monday, March 23, 2020.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Mar 17, 2020 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued guidance to all Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) Organizations in response to the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. PACE is a Medicare and Medicaid program that serves older adults that often have serious medical conditions. The guidance offers actionable information with respect to infection control among these populations.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Mar 17, 2020 - Features a rural county in Texas whose severely ill residents must travel at least 90 miles for care. Describes the numerous challenges rural areas face should they encounter a coronavirus outbreak and includes information on how states are combating the spread of the virus.
Source: Pew Charitable Trusts
Mar 17, 2020 - Notice from the Department of Health and Human Services issuing a declaration to provide liability immunity for activities related to medical countermeasure against COVID-19. This liability immunity protects certain individuals and entities against any claim of loss caused by, arising out of, relating to, or resulting from the manufacture, distribution, administration, or use of medical countermeasures, except for claims involving "willful misconduct" as defined by the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act). This declaration is effective February 4, 2020.
Source: Federal Register
Mar 17, 2020 - The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced it will waive potential penalties for HIPAA violations against healthcare providers that utilize communication platforms, i.e. Skype, for telehealth services during the COVID-19 outbreak. Includes further guidance for healthcare providers on responsibly offering telehealth to patients.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Mar 17, 2020 - The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) issued a Policy Statement to notify practitioners that they will not be subject to administrative sanctions for reducing or waiving cost-sharing obligations Federal healthcare program beneficiaries may owe for telehealth services during the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Source: Office of the Inspector General
Mar 17, 2020 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced it will temporarily pay clinicians to provide telehealth services for Medicare beneficiaries across the country. Describes how Medicare beneficiaries can now receive various telehealth services from any healthcare facility or their home to help reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Mar 17, 2020 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a partnership with the Baylor Collaborative on Hunger and Poverty and others to deliver nearly a million meals per week to rural students whose schools are closed due to COVID-19.
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture
Mar 16, 2020 - The White House Coronavirus Task Force issued new guidelines for Americans during the novel coronavirus disease outbreak. The recommendations aim to minimize the spread of coronavirus and protect the public's health.
Source: The White House
Mar 16, 2020 - Notice from the Executive Office of the President, stating that, due to the anticipated shortage of personal respirator devices, the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services shall take appropriate and necessary steps to facilitate the emergency use of general use respirators by healthcare personnel to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Source: Federal Register
Mar 16, 2020 - The Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) announced it will offer hospitals and other parties access to the Physician Data Center (PDC) for free. The PDC provides information on licensing verification and credentials for physicians who are mobilizing to provide care for COVID-19 patients.
Source: Federation of State Medical Boards
Mar 16, 2020 - Features a 15-bed, rural hospital in Idaho and discusses how the novel coronavirus disease could overwhelm their facility. Hospital staff visit local businesses and schools to inform on prevention measures.
Source: NPR
Mar 16, 2020 - Discusses urban versus rural hospital capacity and describes how beds at rural hospitals are likely to fill up quickly if the community is exposed to COVID-19, leading rural residents to travel far distances for care. Includes recommendations to prevent the spread of the disease.
Source: Farm Journal
Mar 14, 2020 - Features a hospital in rural Washington that is bracing itself for the arrival of the novel coronavirus disease. With already limited resources, the hospital struggles to find supplies as hospital vendors ration equipment. (May require a subscription to view full article).
Source: The Washington Post
Mar 13, 2020 - Summarizes an analysis that found 41 percent of adults in the U.S. have a higher risk of developing a serious illness if they become infected by the novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19). Defines high-risk populations as those with an underlying health condition or over the age of 60, as well as uninsured individuals.
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation
Mar 13, 2020 - The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted an order to fully fund all eligible Rural Health Care Program services, with an additional $42 million in funding. Discusses how COVID-19 presents challenges to healthcare providers and the funding aims to ensure rural Americans have access to the healthcare services they need.
Source: Federal Communications Commission
Mar 13, 2020 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced measures designed to keep nursing home residents safe from the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Measures follow recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including restricting visitors and communal activities at nursing homes.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Mar 13, 2020 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced they will be taking actions to follow the President's declaration of a national emergency through the Stafford Act due to COVID-19. Details administrative actions regarding waivers and flexibilities for healthcare facilities, provider enrollment flexibilities, relief for State Medicaid Agencies, and suspension of enforcement activities.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Mar 13, 2020 - Discusses measures public health departments are taking to respond to the novel coronavirus outbreak in their counties, including limiting public gatherings, school cancellations, and setting up testing sites. Describes how public health officials need to tailor plans to their communities.
Source: National Association of Counties
Mar 13, 2020 - Discusses potential implications of COVID-19 on nursing facility residents and overall operations, as these facilities provide care to those with chronic conditions, compromised immune systems, and of old age. Includes statistics on the share of nursing home residents currently receiving respiratory treatment, experiencing depression, and share of nursing homes with deficiencies in infection control.
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation
Mar 13, 2020 - The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) announced they will provide over $1.2 million in funding to support two rapid diagnostic tests that may detect severe acute respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Describes the need for rapid diagnostic testing to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Mar 13, 2020 - Covers the March 10, 2020 meeting of the Interstate Commission for EMS Personnel Practice where the EMS Compact Commission announced its decision to enable EMS personnel licensed to practice and work in Compact states outside of their own. The decision aims to make EMS personnel available when local resources are reduced due to COVID-19.
Source: Interstate Commission for EMS Personnel Practice
Mar 13, 2020 - President Donald Trump declared the COVID-19 outbreak a national emergency and asked hospitals to activate emergency preparedness measures. Highlights that the HHS secretary has authority to waive several hospital requirements, including limits on number of beds and length of stay in Critical Access Hospitals, state provider license restrictions, telemedicine requirements. (May require a subscription to view full article).
Source: Modern Healthcare
Mar 12, 2020 - George Mason University partnered with Health Wagon to deploy advanced telehealth carts to minimize a potential coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak in southwest Virginia. Describes how virtual retail health clinics allow people to see a doctor at pharmacies and grocery stores and avoid spreading the virus.
Source: Health Wagon
Mar 12, 2020 - Video interview with Alan Morgan, CEO of the National Rural Health Association, addresses the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and its effect on rural communities. Discusses rural hospital capacity, telehealth opportunities, and prevention strategies for rural residents.
Source: RFD TV
Mar 12, 2020 - Rural hospitals in Nevada are preparing to face their first case of the novel coronavirus by establishing screening protocols and prevention plans. Describes how rural hospitals may not have the same resources as urban hospitals, but they are used to adapting and working quickly under pressure.
Source: The Nevada Independent
Mar 12, 2020 - Schools across the country are considering whether to close to minimize the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Describes how rural school districts must consider additional factors such as home internet access, childcare availability, and access to food at home before making any decisions. Includes a nationwide interactive map of school closures.
Source: The Rural Blog
Mar 11, 2020 - The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is distributing funding to state and local jurisdictions to support the nation's response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The $560 million in funds will allow public health leaders to implement strategies to contain the spread of the virus.
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Mar 10, 2020 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) provided additional guidance to home health agencies and dialysis facilities in response to the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The guidance offers information to healthcare workers on the screening, treatment, and transfer procedures to follow when interacting with patients.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Mar 10, 2020 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a memorandum to State Survey Agencies on the types of facemasks healthcare workers may use when in situations involving novel coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19). The guidance is part of an effort to ensure a maximum supply of facemasks and respirators are available to healthcare providers.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Mar 10, 2020 - In light of the public health emergency involving the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), which causes the illness COVID-19, the Secretary of Health and Human Services has authorized the emergency use of personal respiratory protective devices during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Source: Federal Register
Mar 6, 2020 - The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service has released a list of frequently asked questions to guide healthcare providers on issues related to 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Includes information on billing codes, payment for lab tests, telehealth services, and more.
Source: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Mar 4, 2020 - Describes how Native populations are vulnerable to the spread of coronavirus because they already have a history of health conditions that are worse than other populations in the U.S. A majority of American Indian and Alaska Natives live in rural areas and have limited access to healthcare services. Discusses prevention strategies used to minimize risk.
Source: Indian Country Today
Mar 4, 2020 - Health officials state rural communities are at a lower risk of person-to-person spread of the coronavirus than urban areas, but describe the importance of preparing for the event. Includes recommendations for rural residents to protect against the spread of the virus.
Source: The Daily Yonder
Feb 29, 2020 - Rural hospitals may be further removed from the coronavirus threat, but due to rationing of certain medical supplies, are facing a shortage of protective masks and gowns. Describes how a shortage of medical supplies will curtail patient care, putting rural hospitals at financial risk. (May require a subscription to view full article).
Source: The Washington Post

Last Updated: 4/3/2020