Rural Americans are dying of Covid at more than twice the rate of their urban counterparts — a divide that health experts say is likely to widen as access to medical care shrinks for a population that tends to be older, sicker, heavier, poorer and less vaccinated.
While the initial surge of Covid-19 deaths skipped over much of rural America, where roughly 15 percent of Americans live, nonmetropolitan mortality rates quickly started to outpace those of metropolitan areas as the virus spread nationwide before vaccinations became available, according to data from the Rural Policy Research Institute.
Rural Americans are dying of Covid at more than twice the rate of their urban counterparts — a divide that health experts say is likely to widen as access to medical care shrinks. https://t.co/oB5rKTR8mG
— NBC News (@NBCNews) September 30, 2021
Since the pandemic began, about 1 in 434 rural Americans have died from Covid, compared with roughly 1 in 513 urban Americans, the institute’s data shows. And though vaccines have reduced overall Covid death rates since the winter peak, rural mortality rates are now more than double that of urban ones — and accelerating quickly.
A terribly sad statistic, thanks in part to vaccine denialism and little mask-wearing. Not sure how politicians in rural America live with the legacy. @KHNews' @LaurenWeberHP for @NBCNews https://t.co/LtopWju1ja
— Elisabeth Rosenthal (@RosenthalHealth) September 30, 2021
In rural northeastern Texas, Titus Regional Medical Center CEO Terry Scoggin is grappling with a 39 percent vaccination rate in his community. Eleven patients died of Covid in the first half of September at his hospital in Mount Pleasant, population 16,000. Typically, three or four nonhospice patients die there in a whole month.
“We don’t see death like that,” Scoggin said. “You usually don’t see your friends and neighbors die.”
Part of the problem is that Covid incidence rates in September were roughly 54 percent higher in rural areas than elsewhere,…Read more…