WASHINGTON, D.C. — The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced it is investing $42.3 million to help rural residents gain access to health care and educational opportunities. Rural areas are seeing higher infection and death rates related to COVID-19 due to several factors, including a much higher percentage of underlying conditions, difficulty accessing medical care, and lack of health insurance. The $42.3 million in awards includes $24 million provided through the CARES Act. In total, these investments will benefit 5 million rural residents.
“The coronavirus pandemic is a national emergency that requires a historic federal response. These investments by the Biden Administration will help millions of people living in rural places access health care and education opportunities that could change and save lives,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “USDA is helping rural America build back better using technology as a cornerstone to create more equitable communities. With health care and education increasingly moving to online platforms, the time is now to make historic investments in rural America to improve quality of life for decades to come.”
A recent report by the Rural Policy Research Institute’s Center for Rural Health Policy Analysis found infection and death rates in rural America due to COVID-19 are 13.4 percent higher than in urban areas. A recent report from USDA’s Economic Research Service, USDA ERS – Rural Residents Appear to be More Vulnerable to Serious Infection or Death From Coronavirus COVID-19, underscored the challenges facing rural Americans amidst the COVID-19 pandemic with even greater detail. Due to a confluence of factors, including higher percentages of underlying conditions, lack of health insurance, and lower access to medical facilities/care than urban counterparts, ERS analysts found rural Americans are suffering more severe illness or death due to COVID-19.
Rural Residents Appear to be More Vulnerable to Serious Infection or Death from Coronavirus COVID-19
|Underlying health conditions (ages 20 to 84)||23.7||3.0|
|Older adult population scale||15.9||4.0|
|Lacking health insurance (ages 25 to 64)||20.2||10.5|
|Distance to county with an intensive care hospital||11.3||0.3|
The table above is from the USDA ERS January 2021 report: Rural Residents Appear to be More Vulnerable to Serious Infection or Death from Coronavirus COVID-19
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