CARROLLTON, Ala. (AP) — The coronavirus pandemic couldn't come at a worse time for rural communities across the U.S. that have lost their hospitals.
Nearly 200 small-town hospitals have closed nationwide since 2005, often forcing residents to drive much farther for health care.
Last year was the worst yet for shutdowns, and officials say hundreds more rural hospitals are endangered by the pandemic. That's because moneymaking procedures like elective surgeries are being delayed and resources diverted because of the viral outbreak.
More than 46 million people live in rural areas, and the government says they are generally in poorer health than city dwellers.