Roll Call: Rural areas face pandemic risk as country’s urban areas reopen

EXCERPT: “Many rural parts of the country have avoided the toll of cases and deaths that have haunted cities like New York — but it may not stay that way. These areas tend to have an older population that typically has higher rates of chronic illnesses and is concentrated in close living institutions, according to federal data. Don Taylor, a public policy professor at Duke University, said that combination makes rural populations vulnerable to the virus and practically invites the pandemic into nursing homes. ‘The rural places are probably likely to see these hot spots in these institutions,’ Taylor said. ‘Most people end up living in a nursing home because they are chronically ill, and these people are at much much higher risk than average. These are all reasons why it is worrisome.’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows that the 15 percent of the U.S. population that live in rural areas have higher rates of preventable death from heart disease, stroke and other ailments, as well as higher rates of underlying conditions like smoking and obesity.” FULL STORY: