The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in rural areas of
the U.S. continues to grow. This has sparked concern
about the availability of health resources in rural
communities to meet potentially increased care needs.
This policy brief uses data on confirmed COVID-19 cases
and data from the American Hospital Association annual
survey to examine case incidence and hospital bed
Approximately 23.2% of nonmetropolitan counties (total
population of 4.7 million) have no general medical and
surgical beds and had an average of 167.4 new daily
COVID-19 cases in total between April 13, 2020, and April
19, 2020. Nearly 61.1% of nonmetropolitan counties (total
population of 16.4 million) have no medical/surgical ICU
beds and had an average of 504.9 new daily COVID-19 cases
in total during the same time period. Nonmetropolitan
counties with ICU beds had an average of 0.19 new daily
COVID-19 cases during this time, which using "worst case"
estimates of ICU admission rates and length of stay,
should be sufficient to meet needs. But these same
parameters show that there are 56 nonmetropolitan
counties at risk of exceeding their ICU bed capacity.