This is the update for Sunday, March 22, 2020.
COVID-19 local status
We have been notified of no additional cases in Madison County, beyond the one mentioned in the Update to the Daily Update yesterday. That individual is hospitalized at Baptist Health in Richmond and has been there since Thursday. No word on his or her condition.
I have no further announcements for today, but am sharing the following items, both of which deal with the very unfortunate impacts of the coronavirus epidemic that we can anticipate for Appalachia.
Why the coronavirus couldn’t have come at a worse time for reeling Appalachian Kentucky (shared by Teresa Kash Davis, Associate Vice President for Major Gifts and a native of Menifee County)
An Appalachian Studies Perspective on the COVID-19 Virus
By Chris Green, Director Loyal Jones Appalachian Center and Associate Professor of Appalachian Studies
I’m going to consider four adjoining congressional districts (cds) in Central Appalachia: KY’s 5th, WV’s 3rd, VA’s 9th, and TN’s 1st. Due to this area’s much-higher average age, lack of wealth, and lack of access to health care, these cds are medically imperiled, with a low life expectancy. KY’s 5th and WV’s 3rd are the lowest in the nation, with VA’s 9th placing 30th from the bottom and TN’s 1st at 37th (“Mapping”).
Three articles I reviewed highlight the following problems and opportunities.
- It’s not a matter of “if” COVID-19 will spread to these areas, it’s a matter of when.
- Although there are fewer doctors in the area, physicians’ voices matter more to the community. However, mass communication around public health is more difficult because of lack of internet and daily newspapers. Much of the population, which voted strongly Republican, also distrusts the government even as they depend upon it. (Estes)
- The number of rural hospitals have dramatically decreased in the last decade, yet remaining hospitals have open beds even if they lack ICUs and are removed from the distribution of medical equipment necessary to work with COVID-19. (Simpson; Wright and Estep)
- Estes, Clary. “How The COVID-19 Coronavirus Pandemic Is Impacting Rural America.”Forbes 17 March 2020. Excellent interview here with the 911 director of Powell County, KY.
- “Labor Force Participation Rate . . .” Joint Economic Committee Democrats. United States Congress. 12 Dec 2019.
- “Mapping America.”Measure of America. Social Science Resource Council. 2020.
- Simpson, April. “Coronavirus Threatens Strained Rural Health Care System.”The Daily Yonder 17 March 2020. Good national overview with examples from KY.
- Wright, William and Bill Estep, “Are Rural Kentucky Hospitals Ready for a Coronavirus Outbreak? Experts Say No.”Lexington Herald-Leader 19 March 2020.
We’re sending blessing and warm thoughts!
Lyle Roelofs, President