NBC News reports that the COVID-19 pandemic has hit rural American communities particularly hard, as an estimated one out of every 434 residents in rural areas has died from COVID-19.
NBC's report notes that there are many reasons the virus has hit these communities so hard: They have lower vaccination rates than other areas, they don't have the quality of health care typically found in urban and suburban areas, and many people living in rural America suffered from poor health before the pandemic hit last year.
Alan Morgan, head of the National Rural Health Association, said that the situation in rural hospitals was dire.
"We've turned many rural communities into kill boxes," he said. "And there's no movement towards addressing what we're seeing in many of these communities, either among the public, or among governing officials."
John Henderson, president and CEO of the Texas Organization of Rural & Community Hospitals, similarly said that hospitals in his state are being forced to make dire decisions about who gets care.
"We literally have email Listservs of rural chief nursing officers or rural CEOs sending up an SOS to the group, saying, 'We've called 60 or 70 hospitals and can't get this heart attack or stroke patient or surgical patient out and they're going to get septic and die if it goes on much longer," he said.