Keeping COVID Low in Rural America During Summer Activities

COVID-19 continues to impact rural communities across the country. Dr. Tom Ellison is the medical services director for Project H.E.L.P. in Alabama. He says a lack of access to sufficient healthcare is making this difficult for many rural residents.

“It has affected rural communities because of the lack of access, lack of broadband, to our providers, fewer access points, and that couples with the long-term chronic diseases that always have existed in rural communities. Even when just the emergency department closes, people have nowhere to go. So, people with diabetes, ischemic heart disease, instead of driving 20 miles now some of them have to drive 80 miles.”

COVID testing is no longer free in many states and doctors want to change that.

“We are trying to make sure that the states that can will soon expand Medicaid so that even the people who want to get COVID testing don’t have to come out of pocket. At one time, the test kits were free and available everywhere. And I was in a rural setting two days ago, and I see them now at pharmacies for 19 dollars.”

Ellison says people are still being affected every day by COVID.

“The numbers are way down, but we want to continue to keep them down. And still about 300 people a day are passing from this, so it’s significant for all family members and those people, and we don’t want an uptick where people get too relaxed sometimes. They stopped doing the things that prevented them from getting it initially, and they stopped getting vaccinations.”

Summertime activities mean additional opportunities to get COVID and pass it on.

“People who have been, what they felt, bottled up for so long, are now wanting to go and enjoy things. So, I’m noticing the uptick in the games, especially indoor games. I’m noticing an uptick in people who said this is over, we don’t have to worry about this any longer, and we don’t need to protect ourselves. We don’t need updated vaccines because people either already have had it or have been vaccinated, so more or less, we’re free now. We can do what we want to do and make up for the two years that we were behind the eight ball. I mean, they should make sure that update on their vaccinations. They still should, in certain situation, practice the same practices that kept them safe during the epidemic.”

For more information, go to