As of January 3rd, 2022, the United States beat its own COVID-19 record, reporting 1.03 million daily cases. After almost two years of the pandemic, Americans have quarantined, masked up, and been vaccinated to prevent contracting the virus, but COVID-19 and its variants are still heavily present. This is particularly true in rural areas, where individuals are dying of COVID at twice the rate of those in metropolitan areas. Beyond this staggering number of deaths, rural communities are also suffering in terms of mental health and the economy. But by participating in regular testing, residents can help their communities thrive once again.
Rural Communities Need Support
At the beginning of the pandemic, COVID-19 largely impacted metropolitan cities. But rural areas have seen a dramatic increase in cases during the winter of 2021-2022. Despite many people feeling COVID Fatigue, there are still ways for rural residents to support each other.
Encouraging vaccinations is one clear way to do so. Since COVID-19 vaccinations have been widely available, they have been shown to be extremely effective in slowing the virus’ spread and reducing the risk of hospitalization and death. But in a May 2021 study, only 39% of rural adults reported receiving the vaccine.
The higher number of rural COVID-19 cases raises the pressure on community hospitals and doctors. The ongoing stress of the pandemic has led more healthcare workers towards resignation. This means more hospitals are short-staffed, resulting in rapid burnout of employees and therefore fewer resources to help those in need of treatment.
Testing Saves Lives
The key component to preventing COVID cases is containing the virus. While COVID-19 often involves symptoms including shortness of breath, fever, and cough, many carriers may be asymptomatic and not even know they are sick. Over half of COVID-19 cases are spread due to these asymptomatic cases. But testing allows for early detection of the virus, no matter your symptoms.
Because of this, routine COVID testing is linked to a reduced number of COVID-19 infections. Early diagnosis also improves the chances of early treatment, decreasing the risk of hospitalization and death. Once a person is aware that they have COVID-19, they can isolate until they are no longer contagious, reducing the chance of spreading COVID to others.
Testing Improves Mental Health
A February 2021 study found that 40% of participants reported symptoms of depression and anxiety during the pandemic, including difficulty sleeping or eating, increased chronic conditions, and substance abuse. These mental health issues are often linked to the isolation of quarantining, job loss, and COVID Fatigue.
But if more people test, quarantine, and slow the spread of COVID-19, residents can experience fewer negative mental health symptoms because they can freely participate once again in a healthy and safe community.
Testing Improves the Economy
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States at one point reached an unemployment rate of 14.7%: the highest since the Great Depression. It has since dropped back down to 3.9%, but in general, this spate of unemployment has left rural communities particularly hard-hit. By diminishing the spread of COVID-19 with vaccinations and regular testing, more people can continue to re-enter the workforce, and improve the rural economy.
At LifeBrite Early, we know the heart and character of each town in our surrounding area, and we are dedicated to bringing our rural community back to normal. We know the struggles the pandemic has brought to all of you, and our team is doing everything possible to improve our patients’ quality of life. For more about our specific services and facilities, visit our website or call 229-723-4241.