Rural America: ‘Please Take This Seriously’

02:26PM Mar 24, 2020
Rx for Rural Health
Small-town hospitals are ramping up staff and services as coronavirus cases are on the uptick in the countryside.
( Farm Journal )

While major cities across the U.S. are taking measures to address COVID-19, rural communities are stepping up to the challenges as well.

Alan Morgan, CEO of the National Rural Health Association (NRHA), says rural hospitals are ramping up staff and services in preparation for more cases of the virus.

“Over the last 72 hours, we've started to see cases pop up in rural communities in Kansas, North Dakota, obviously Washington State, so rural America is not immune to this,” Morgan told AgDay Host Clinton Griffiths, on Tuesday’s Farm Journal Live webcast.

The “immediate future is the real danger” to rural Americans, Morgan notes. He anticipates an uptick in the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the countryside over the coming days. To address the increased demand for services, NRHA is seeking direct cash payments to rural hospital facilities to undergird their work.

“A lot of these rural hospitals are facing a significant cash crunch right now,” he notes. “We need to get money out there so they can keep their doors open No. 1, and then what Congress is looking at in this (stimulus) package right now is a fund to be able to distribute across the United States.

“In addition, some long-term payment increases are needed just to make sure over the course of this next year that you will always have an emergency room available there in your community when you need it,” he adds.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported total U.S. cases of COVID-19 stood at 44,183, with 544 total deaths, as of noon March 24.

CDC notes people with preexisting health conditions and the elderly are most vulnerable to the coronavirus. Morgan says that concerns him as both populations are prevalent in rural America.

“We’ve got a higher percentage of elderly in a rural context,” he says. “Those people that are most at risk for this virus are all situated in rural communities.

“I can't stress it enough. I know that you're hearing all the news about New York and the big cities. Please, please take this seriously in a rural context,” he adds.

For more Information:
To access the NRHA COVID-19 resources page that includes state-by-state resources and a link to its policy efforts, go to https://bit.ly/2Uf7dzs

For insights on COVID-19 legislation by individual state, go to the National Governors Association site at https://bit.ly/3akaF1E

Follow comprehensive COVID-19 and agriculture coverage at AgWeb.com/coronavirus.

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FJ Live-March 24-2020