Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Play

Connecting health outcomes to climate solutions and lower utility bills, Engagement Center finding success near Boston's troubled 'Mass and Cass' and more protections coming for PA Children's Service providers.

Play

Georgia breaks a state record for early voting, Democrats are one step closer to codifying same-sex marriage, and Arizona county officials refuse to certify the results of the midterm elections.

Play

A water war in Southwest Utah has ranchers and Native tribes concerned, federal solar subsidies could help communities transition to renewable energy, and Starbucks workers attempt to unionize.

Media Coverage of COVID Underserves Rural Communities

Play

Monday, August 22, 2022   

CLARIFICATION: Dr. Wendy Welch, PhD, MPH, MEd co-authored "COVID-19 Conspiracy Theories: QAnon, 5G, the New World Order and Other Viral Ideas" and is editing the upcoming work "Masks, Misinformation, and Making Do: Appalachian Health-Care Workers and the COVID-19 Pandemic." (04:57 p.m MST., Aug. 25, 2022)


COVID has been in and out of the news cycle for over two years now, but that news cycle is driven by the experience in major cities. Coverage of the pandemic in rural America hasn't kept pace.

That disparity has had consequences - both for how rural Americans view the pandemic, and how prepared regional hospitals were for local virus outbreaks.

As America shut down in 2020 during the initial COVID wave in large cities, rural Virginia hospitals followed the same protocols and stopped doing routine procedures, even when local COVID cases were low.

The lack of revenue from routine care led first to layoffs, and eventually to the resumption of procedures. Dr. Wendy Welch - executive director of the Southwest Virginia Graduate Medical Education Consortium - said after that, COVID showed up.

"They started doing procedures about a month before they got hit by the first wave of COVID," said Dr. Welch, "and then they had to stop doing the procedures again. So, it was almost the worst-case scenario - your hospital was full of people, and then suddenly, your hospital was full of COVID."

Dr. Welch said the delays in COVID waves have been consistent over the entire pandemic, and the current outbreak in southwest Virginia is on an upswing.

Rural residents may see major media covering COVID stories in large cities when not much is happening locally - and then, as media attention turns to other topics, a virus surge hits rural areas.

"We're going up where other places are going down," said Dr. Welch, "and we're late, because we are more rural. And this has driven up the ability to misinform people about COVID overall in rural areas, because we don't conform to the major patterns you see on the news."

As thousands of local and regional newspapers have shut down, local news coverage has suffered and more distant media outlets aren't making up the difference.

Dr. Welch has co-authored one book on COVID misinformation, and is editing the upcoming work "Masks, Misinformation, and Making Do: Appalachian Health-Care Workers and the COVID-19 Pandemic."

The ongoing incongruity between media attention and COVID reality in rural places has created space for misinformation to take hold, Dr. Welch said, and as the pandemic continues, those ideas have evolved.

"The misinformation is predominantly around the vaccine," said Dr. Welch. "You don't have a lot of people left who are saying there's no such thing as COVID, I mean, for a while there, it was called the 'election virus' - it would go away after the 2020 election. People kind of don't say that anymore."

The state as a whole is still reporting around 2,500 COVID cases a day, but rural areas in southwestern Virginia are reporting the highest numbers per capita.



get more stories like this via email
The city-run Engagement Center is a low-barrier day facility, which serves a few hundred people each day from the nearby "Mass and Cass" area, offering everything from bathroom facilities and a clean bed to referrals to drug-treatment facilities, dental care and even writing groups. (Adobe Stock)

Health and Wellness

Boston's 'Mass and Cass' area, with its large homeless population and open-air drug market, remains a trouble spot for city officials, but staff at …


Social Issues

Maryland's Juvenile Restoration Act has been in effect for more than a year now and its impact has people talking about additional reforms. The act …

Social Issues

Local candidates that signed onto a no-corporate-money pledge made midterm election gains in Charleston. Katie Lauer, co-chair of West Virginia …


Research indicates that the number of women who have experienced Traumatic Brain Injury secondary to domestic violence is 11 to 12 times greater than experienced by military personnel and athletes combined. (Adobe Stock)

Health and Wellness

A new statewide initiative aims to help connect domestic-violence survivors with medical providers, with a focus on treating traumatic brain injury…

Environment

A successful program that helps low-income households weatherize homes and lower energy bills is setting its sights on improving the health outcomes o…

According to First Things First, 90% of a child's brain develops before he or she starts kindergarten. (Adobe Stock)

Social Issues

The Arizona New Parent Guide is a resource that is intended to help new parents meet the challenges of having a baby and support their baby's health …

Environment

An environmental advocacy group in Virginia has been working to bridge generational gaps. Third Act Virginia began as a group of elder climate …

Social Issues

In just two months, it should be easier for providers of children's services in Pennsylvania's child-welfare and foster-care system to get the …

 

Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member- and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021