“As U.S. cities slowly begin to take control of the Covid-19 pandemic and rural America braces for a wave of cases, some counties may be better prepared to deal with the outbreak than others. A new dashboard, produced in a STAT collaboration with the Center on Rural Innovation and Applied XL, offers a county-by-county look at how places like those in rural Vermont, New Hampshire, and parts of the Midwest may have the resources to tackle Covid-19.
“Other areas, such as those in the Deep South, may be at high risk of facing problems when handling the outbreak. The tool, and the trends it reveals, shows that Covid-19 may further exacerbate the urban-rural health divide that plagued the U.S. even before Covid-19 emerged and take a crushing toll on the already vulnerable populations in rural areas.
“The dashboard also points to the places at higher risk. Some are areas where concerns have already been raised — including segments of the Deep South, where some governors were slow to implement physical distancing measures, and sparsely populated expanses in Western states outside larger cities. Others, like the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, which has suffered hospital closures, have received less attention.
“‘There are variations in terms of capacity and demographics in rural areas around the country, and those variations can have life-and-death implications in this pandemic,’ said Matt Dunne, the executive director for the Center on Rural Innovation, which was established in 2017 to identify ways to close the urban-rural opportunity gap.