The spread of COVID-19 took longer to reach rural America, however, once it did, it highlighted some basic infrastructure needs that are lacking for rural residents. During COVID-19, rural people have faced many of the same challenges as urban residents, yet have struggled to access adequate information, medical services, food and medicine due to an erosion of public investment in rural infrastructure.
- Urge the Federal Communications Commission to take measures to secure broadband access for those impacted by COVID-19 like New Jersey did.
- Invest in broadband activity to significantly increase rural broadband capacity for distance learning, remote working, telehealth and other critical services like Vermont did.
- Invest in existing rural cooperatives in order to support the expansion of broadband to rural communities. This is what Mississippi did.
- Establish a grant program for broadband expansion like was done in Minnesota and Mississippi.
- Rural Health Care
- For background, see this paper that looks at the urban – rural mental health disparities in the US During COVID-19. You can access it here.
- Designate funds specifically for rural health care and services. North Carolina did this as part of an omnibus bill.
- Appropriate funds to cover the costs incurred by rural hospitals as a result of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is what Mississippi did.
- Reimburse rural health care providers for expenses incurred for telehealth services. This is what Colorado did.
- Rural Small Business
- When creating small business loan or grant programs, prioritize applicants who come from rural areas, women- or minority-owned businesses or businesses owned by veterans. See this bill in Colorado as an example.
- Rural Homelessness
- The National Healthcare for the Homeless Council has a list of resources that are unique to addressing homelessness in rural areas. You can access the resources here.
- For background, the US Interagency Council on Homelessness has a pre-COVID report that discusses the unique challenges of addressing homelessness in rural communities. You can access the report here.
- Ensure that supportive housing services are extended to rural communities, where people have less access to nonprofits and other easily accessible social services. This is what Colorado attempted.