SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — As the coronavirus rages across the United States, mainly in large urban areas, more than a third of U.S. counties have but to document a single distinct test result for COVID-19 infections, an analysis by The Associated Press reveals.
Data compiled by John Hopkins University reveals that 1,297 counties have no confirmed cases of COVID-19 out of three,142 counties nationwide. Of the counties with out distinct tests, 85% are in rural areas — from predominantly white communities in Appalachia and the Great Plains to majority Hispanic and Native American stretches of the American Southwest — that generally have much less everyday contact between other folks that can assist transmit the virus.
At the same time, counties with zero distinct tests for COVID-19 have a better median age and better share of individuals older than 60 — the most vulnerable to extreme effects of the virus — and far fewer intensive care beds ought to they fall sick. Median household income is decrease too, potentially limiting health care alternate choices.
The demographics of these counties maintain major implications as the Trump administration develops guidelines to rate counties by danger of the virus spreading, empowering local officials to revise social distancing orders that have sent noteworthy of the U.S. economy into freefall. President Donald Trump has targeted a return to a semblance of normalcy for the economy by Easter Sunday, April 12.
Experts in infectious disease peek an opportunity in slowing the spread of coronavirus in far off areas of the nation that take pleasure in “natural” social distancing and isolation, if initial cases are detected and quarantined aggressively. That can get rid of rural health care networks time to present sturdy care and reduce back mortality.
But they also grief that sporadic testing for coronavirus will doubtless be masking outbreaks that — left unattended — may perhaps weigh down rural health networks.
“They’ll be later to get the infection, they’ll be later to have their epidemics,” said Christine Ok. Johnson, a professor of epidemiology at the University of California, Davis. “But I don’t think they’re going to be safe because there’s nowhere in the U.S. that’s isolated.”
Counties that have zero confirmed COVID-19 cases may perhaps raise a crimson flag about inadequate testing, she said.
“I am hoping the zeros are really zeros — I grief that they’re no longer doing satisfactory testing in those areas because they’re no longer thinking they’re at danger,” she said.
In Fresh Mexico, a state with 2 million residents spanning an area the scale of Italy, Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has moved aggressively to contain the coronavirus’ spread with a statewide faculty shutdown and prohibition on most gatherings of over 5 other folks.
Nearly half of the state’s 33 counties are freed from any distinct coronavirus cases. Fresh Mexico is among the top 5 states in coronavirus testing per capita, though some virus-free counties aren’t but geared up with specialized testing sites beyond samplings by a handful of doctor workplaces.
Torrance County Manager Wayne Johnson said plans are being prepared for the primary three dedicated COVID-19 testing sites, in the high-barren station county of 15,000 residents that spans an area three instances the scale of Rhode Island.
A statewide stay-at-home expose is keeping many residents from commuting to jobs in adjacent Bernalillo County, the epicenter of the state’s COVID-19 infections, with 93 confirmed cases out of a state govt tally of 208 as of Saturday evening.
“We don’t have any test sites inaugurate, and part of that is that we don’t have any wants for the test but,” Johnson said. Aloof, Johnson said he worries that an outbreak may perhaps weigh down the county’s sole local medical clinic and an all-volunteer corps of emergency medical technicians.
The state´s first of two coronavirus-related deaths occurred last Sunday within a southern oil-producing station in Eddy County, where two various distinct tests have surfaced. A man in his late-70s died shortly after arriving at a hospital in Artesia, and examined distinct postmortem. He had previously visited two health clinics, and at the hospital 5 staff had been quarantined for that you can think of exposure even supposing they wore face masks.
State Deputy Epidemiologist Chad Smelser said health officials have continued to painstakingly retrace the steps of infected patients and disclose other folks who came into contact with them. There are dozens of connections per infection on average.
“We know the details of his prior visits in the health care system,” Smelser said of the deceased Eddy County patient. “We’ve worked with those physicians to assess their exposure. And we enact no longer contemplate that he acquired it in the health care setting.”
State health officials say it’s unclear how many other folks have been examined for coronavirus in each county.
Medical specialists say uneven testing patterns across the nation make it complicated to gauge whether far off areas are really at an advantage.
“It’s a fundamental unknown,” said Benjamin Neuman, a virologist at Texas A&M University in Texarkana. “I think there may be some fact to that belief that there are decrease infection rates available” in rural areas.
He said he fears for homeless populations and undocumented migrants.
¨We hope they stay safe. These may perhaps be hard places to get rid of the coronavirus,¨ Neuman said.
Complaints that testing is no longer readily available lengthen to the crossroads town of Crossett in southern Arkansas, where surrounding Ashley County has no confirmed coronavirus cases.
Disabled veteran Marty Zollman, 42, of Crossett says his wife, a clothing store clerk, and teenage daughter sought coronavirus testing this week for fever and flu-like symptoms at a local health clinic and had been turned away.
“We can be contagious, but nobody will test her,” Zollman said of his wife, Janet, who was awaiting surgical intention for breast cancer. “They retain turning her down. They don’t have a source of testing.”
He lashed out at Trump for indicating that testing is readily available. “Now it’s time for me to call his bluff. If he’s purchased the equipment … he’s purchased to present it,” Zollman said.
In Fresh Mexico, along the southernmost finger of the Rocky Mountains, Mora Valley Neighborhood Health Providers and a companion agency attend to aged patients living in low poverty in Mora County, where there have been no confirmed COVID-19 infections and few if any other folks examined.
With a population of 4,500 that is more than 80% Latino, the county is among the economically poorest in the nation. Average combined household income is $27,000.
“There’s aged available that have dementia, who don’t have a family … who eat out of cans,” said Julián Barela, CEO of Neighborhood Health Providers, which ordinarily serves a steady stream of Medicaid and Medicare patients with health, dental and behavior health services.
Under unusual state directives, the clinic has scuttled all non-emergency appointments — most of its caseload — to follow a measure designed to preserve dwindling protective gear such as masks, gloves and robes for health care workers, Barela said. The clinic has but to peek a patient with telltale symptoms of coronavirus charge testing.
Barela said it has been alarming to flip away patients who feel they want attention as unusual federal grant cash arrives.
“We don’t have an emergency backlog, it doesn’t seem reasonable that we’re suitable shut down,” he said. “We ought to no longer operate the same as Fresh York. There is just not any longer always any reason for it.”