Many of the nation's largest cities are once again in the grip of COVID-19 spikes and surges, and a growing number of states – including Michigan and Massachusetts – are responding by preparing to open field hospitals and other auxiliary facilities to handle the rising tide of patients. Unlike the start of the pandemic last spring, however, this time facilities in rural areas also are feeling the weight of rising coronavirus infections.
In the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, many rural communities across the country lack inpatient medical care, including equipment like ventilators, reports the National Catholic Reporter. Patients with severe COVID-19 often need a ventilator to help them breathe.
Dozens of rural hospitals have succumbed to financial strain in recent years. Since 2015, 85 hospitals in rural areas have closed, according to data collected by researchers at the University of North Carolina.
The trend of hospital closures has been accelerating during the pandemic. With 15 closures as of October, 2020 is on track to eclipse the previous record for closures set in 2019, when 18 rural hospitals shut their doors, according to University of North Carolina researchers.
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