COVID-19 and Rural America: How a County of 5 Thousand Tests Majority Positive
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Lincoln County, one of Nevada’s most sparse and rural counties per square mile, now leads the state’s in positive coronavirus cases, with a percentage of 62.7 percent.
The county, which has a total population of 5,200, had only five cases of COVID-19 through the first seven months of the coronavirus pandemic.
Lincoln County is just one of the many rural areas nationwide which are experiencing a surge of positive COVID-19 cases, in the second wave of the pandemic.
Across the country, most non-metropolitan counties have now recorded at least 100 cases or more per 10,000 people since the pandemic began, more than double than in early September. Nevada as a whole has also seen an increase in almost every country, with an average of 2,429 cases per day.
The county, which is a total of 10,633.4 square miles, is mainly ranching county. North of Las Vegas, it only contains one hospital which provides healthcare to residents.
Nevada’s second least populated county, Eureka County, has a population of 1,966, yet an 11 percent positivity rate.
As November arrived, Lincoln County held a testing positivity rate of 18.6%, followed by Nye, Washoe and Lyon counties, all above 10%. Clark County, including Las Vegas, had a positivity rate of 9.8%. It’s first covid-realted death occurred in October. Now, the county has a total of 19 deaths.
According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Country Emergency Manager Eric Holt claims he was helping create a “recovery plan” to submit a state COVID-19 task force. Holt intends to increase testing and acquiring test kits which can be processed within 24 hours.
Nevada governor Steve Sisolak last week had announced a three-week “pause” beginning on Nov. 24, putting heavier restrictions on businesses and stricter mask mandates. However, this mandate came after the 2020 presidential election, which may have been a possible factor in the increase of cases.
President of the League of Women Voters Nevada Sondra Cosgrove says that while the state’s August law which mandated all Nevada residents to vote by mail, increased voter turnout, a significant number of people voted in person.
“A the vote(s) started coming in, when they added in all the ballots that come in without a postmark, it was very easy to see that way more Democrats had voted by mail and way more Republicans had voted in person,” said Sondra.
This story is not my original pitch; as I was researching more for my story, I noticed how a low populated such as Lincoln County, Nevada is testing so high for positive COVID-19 cases, and yet are underfunded and under-resourced. I want to expand on this story and interview representatives from Lincoln County’s lone hospital, as well as the county’s Emergency Manager. Since this is a change in story, I have not interviewed them yet. My original pitch was to compare voting by communities hit by coronavirus, and so I interviewed the President of the League of Women Voters Sondra Cosgrove. If there is anything else I can do to better this story than I have already mentioned, please let me know!