Rural

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The vaccine developed by the pharmaceutical company Moderna may be easier to distribute in the rural West, according to regional public health experts.

It can survive up to a month in a freezer, is shipped in small doses, and it doesn't need a special, ultra-cold freezer to survive – unlike the vaccine developed by the company Pfizer.


Office of Sen. Jon Tester

Democrats once again lost ground in much of the rural West. That includes Montana, where Republicans swept the election for the first time in at least two decades. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., will soon be the lone progressive holding federal office in the state. He's also the only working farmer in the U.S. Senate and author of a new book, Grounded: A Senator's Lessons On Winning Back Rural America. He spoke about lessons learned from November's election with reporter Nate Hegyi of the Mountain West News Bureau.

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A new study underscores disproportionately high firearm suicide rates in rural areas, including across Idaho.


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As the coronavirus forced people inside this spring and asked them to isolate themselves at home, in some case from loved ones and friends, experts across the country raised concerns about the possible mental health crisis to come. In Idaho, pre-existing rates of suicide put folks here on high alert for an increase in anxiety, depression and other disorders.

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COVID-19 infections are waning slightly in the rural U.S., but the number of deaths there is still climbing. 


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Only about 20% of Americans live in rural areas, but that’s where 30% of driving and 45% of fatal traffic accidents happen.

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It all started at Dr. Sanjeev Arora's clinic in New Mexico.

"One Friday afternoon, 18 years ago, I walked into my clinic in Albuquerque to see a 42-year-old woman who had driven five hours with her two children," Arora said before a recent Senate committee hearing.


Stethescope, Health Care, Doctor, Medical
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

 

In 2018, Idaho started a platform for health care workers to support and educate one another. Project ECHO works to share knowledge through weekly video conferences to increase the specialist knowledge among doctors in our state. 

USAFacts

Nearly half of all counties in the Mountain West have largely been spared from COVID-19, according to recent data from the nonprofit organization USAFacts. Many of these communities weren't untouched, but all have had fewer than five confirmed cases of the virus. 

Matt Cilley / AP Images

 

For counties that rely on tourism as summer approaches, Gov. Brad Little’s reopening plan can mean a chance for small businesses to make much needed money. But it also presents risks for a population with limited medical resources during a pandemic. Finding the right balance between protecting the tourism economy and protecting the health of residents is a conversation many rural leaders are looking toward. 

Report for America

 

A few weeks ago on the show, we talked to a northern Idaho newspaper struggling to stay afloat. Their story isn’t unique: local news outlets have been hurting for years.  

The Daily Yonder

Many big cities are seeing the number of COVID-19 cases fall, but rural counties are seeing the opposite, according to a new analysis by the Daily Yonder, a rural nonprofit news outlet.

 

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This story was powered by America Amplified, a public radio initiative.

Shelby, Mont. is home to a lot of wheat and barley fields, a decent high school football team, and an Amtrak train that passes through town twice a day. It's a place where almost everyone knows everyone. 

"The people here are fantastic," says William Kiefer, CEO of the only hospital in the county that offers 24/7 emergency medical services. "There's a huge sense of community."

So when people began getting sick and even dying from COVID-19, it hit hard. 

The Idaho Traveler explores the often ignored treasures of small-town Idaho, from historic buildings and sites to the mom-and-pop restaurants that offer the best pie and breakfast in the Gem State. Interviews with long-time residents and newcomers alike illustrate this paean to Idaho and capture the essence of what defines Idaho's unique character.


New Report Spotlights The Rural West’s Connectivity Gap 

A report published this week by the National Association of Counties found that more than 75% of rural counties had internet and cellular connections that fell well below minimum government standards. The problem is especially acute in the Mountain West. For the most part, only wealthy enclaves like Jackson, Wyoming, have good broadband, the study’s connectivity maps show.

Rural hospital closures are becoming more common, and that’s leading to longer response times for ambulances to reach the scene of an emergency, according to a recent study.

James Dawson / Boise State Public Radio

 

Boise State University President Marlene Tromp has made rural outreach to students a priority in her short time in office. Now, the university will offer a special scholarship for rural Idaho students.

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Rural economies could get a massive boost under policies meant to decrease carbon emissions, according to an analysis by the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank.

 

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

 


Idaho author Alan Minksoff first made his 24-town tour of the Gem State in the 1970s. He went back to these small towns last year to write his book “The Idaho Traveler.” Centered around interviews with locals, he brings readers from town to town sharing insider knowledge on the best drives, sights and food the state has to offer. He shares memorable stories of his travels with Idaho Matters.

Updated Monday, November 18, 2019 to include a visualization of pharmacy closure in the Mountain West.

A national study published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine found that 1 in 8 pharmacies closed between the years 2009 and 2015. 

Counterintuitively, the total number of pharmacies is growing. 

“So you see kind of a net growth at a national level,” said Dima Qato, an associate professor at the University of Illinois College of Pharmacy and an author of the study. “But at the local, at the county, level there is variation. Some areas are not experiencing growth. Some counties are not only experiencing closures but they’re experiencing net loss.”

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