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CARES Act Could Help Soften the Blow of COVID-19 on Rural Areas

In the face of the outbreak, AARP is providing information and resources to help older people and those caring for them protect themselves from the virus and prevent it from spreading to others. You can find AARP's coronavirus resources at

While the first few months of the coronavirus pandemic hit urban areas in the U.S. especially hard, the virus is now spreading to rural communities – where over one in five Americans ages 65 and older live.

Despite recent data showing that COVID-19 cases and deaths are growing at faster rates in rural counties than in urban counties, many rural areas are beginning to re-open. Public health experts warn these re-openings are likely premature, as the virus is still spreading and COVID-19 testing remains limited in many rural areas.

Rural Areas Face Challenges in Responding to COVID-19

The possibility of a dramatic increase in coronavirus cases is concerning since rural areas often lack resources that would allow them to adequately respond to a pandemic. Many rural hospitals are either closing or on the brink of closure. Among the rural hospitals that remain, many do not have enough health care providers, beds, or specialized equipment like ventilators to treat a large number of patients. Rural public health departments also tend to be underfunded and understaffed.

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