Resiliency and Vulnerability to COVID-19 in Rural Communities

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) global pandemic continues to be a major public health crisis in the U.S. Missing from the academic and policy discussion is the pandemic’s impact on smaller communities. Rural places are still highly susceptible to the pandemic even in the absence of confirmed cases, as this public health crisis may just be taking hold. This makes rural places statistically invisible, creating a false sense of rural immunity. There is an immediate need to understand the socioeconomic, health, and emotional impacts of COVID-19 in understudied rural communities, especially ones with large minority populations in meat packing towns. To address this gap, we will survey residents across 65 small towns in Iowa using an existing longitudinal rural panel from the Iowa Small Towns Project (ISTP). The new data will be combined with previous waves that allow us to address three research objectives:

  1. to document how COVID-19 has impactedthe health, socioeconomic, and emotional well-being of residents in rural communities;
  2. to identify how communities have responded to these impacts and what needs remain unmet; and
  3. to understand how impacts, responses, and needs vary among ethnoracially diverse towns dominated by agricultural production and processing.