Rural hospitals need your help in COVID-19 outbreak

COVID-19 isn’t just an urban disease. Rural areas see an uptick as well.

Burt Rutherford, Senior Editor

March 25, 2020

3 Min Read
Rural America
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COVID-19 continues to spread and disrupt the lives of nearly all Americans. Certainly, consumer hoarding and its effect on the cattle and beef market, algorithmic trading in the futures markets and many other topics need to be addressed. Today, though, let’s look at ways you can help your community get through this.

I was surprised, watching a story on my local TV news, on the effect that COVID-19 is having on a rural hospital in Eastern Colorado. The doctor said that not only is COVID-19 prevalent in rural areas, but the problem seems to be more pronounced than in larger cities.

In a Facebook post that has gone viral, Dr. Daniel Wandsneider said, “Over 100 hours into my shift, I have first hand experiences with this virus and it’s as bad as you can imagine. For example, a healthy patient day 8 of illness on a few liters of oxygen turns to fulminate respiratory failure on mechanical ventilation within 16 hours.

Related: COVID-19 info from the CDC

“This isn’t another flu. This will infect your friends, parents, grandparents. We’re several weeks behind where we should be in terms of social isolation and healthcare preparedness. It’s the beginning. I wish I had understood the severity of the situation sooner and been a better advocate.

“I appreciate so many people who are doing their part. There are many who are making this a personal matter, and those are the people who will allow this disease to perpetuate as the 1918 pandemic did for nearly two years. Keep each other accountable and don’t make this personal. Don’t panic, but be prepared to settle in for longer than you think.”

Sobering words. Wandsneider told KDVR-TV that he’s seeing patients in their 30s come in with a coronavirus infection, when the general thought is that only those who are immunocompromised are at risk.

Related: Looking for levity during COVID-19

He’s been wearing the same mask every day and expects that soon, the hospital will run out of protective gear for the doctors and nurses. If they get an uptick in critically ill patients, they don’t have enough ventilators to handle the influx.

The same problems are evident in hospitals in larger cities. So transferring those patients to larger facilities may not be an option.

What can you do? If you have a supply of disposable gloves, consider donating them to your local hospital or primary care doctor. Same with face masks. If it comes down to homemade face masks versus none at all, consider marshalling the forces within your church or social group and sewing some. is an excellent resource for instruction on how to do this.

Related: COVID-19: Boosting optimism in dark times

And do what Dr. Wandseider suggests—practice social distancing, a new-age phrase for staying 6 feet apart or more, wash your hands often and keep each other accountable.

As the sergeant on an old TV cop show encouraged his officers before each shift, “let’s be safe out there.”


About the Author(s)

Burt Rutherford

Senior Editor, BEEF Magazine

Burt Rutherford is director of content and senior editor of BEEF. He has nearly 40 years’ experience communicating about the beef industry. A Colorado native and graduate of Colorado State University with a degree in agricultural journalism, he now works from his home base in Colorado. He worked as communications director for the North American Limousin Foundation and editor of the Western Livestock Journal before spending 21 years as communications director for the Texas Cattle Feeders Association. He works to keep BEEF readers informed of trends and production practices to bolster the bottom line.

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