According to this research article from the American Psychological Association, the United States has more confirmed coronavirus deaths than any other country in the world. While each state governor proposed its own restrictions, counties underwent unequal infection rates. Schools and businesses were forced to close. Those with broadband access continued a sense or normalcy in their lives. However, for the more than 20 million people who do not have broadband access, a different set of barriers has been experienced. These challenges are especially prominent in rural communities throughout various states.
The present commentary addresses how health disparities for preexisting conditions place rural residents at greater risk for morbidity during COVID-19. Reasons for physical and mental health disparities, such as limited access to hospitals or specialty providers (e.g., psychiatrists), are described. Although telehealth is promoted as a way to meet health access needs, this luxury is not readily available for all U.S. residents. Recent actions brought about by the government (e.g., the CARES Act) have tried to address the rural–urban gap in telehealth, but much more is needed.
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