While much has been written about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on urban centers and suburbs across the United States, less discussed is its impact on rural America, specifically the rural West. The Rural West Covid Project, led by Justin Farrell, associate professor of sociology at the Yale School of the Environment, aims to close that data gap and provide policymakers and others with new information on rural Westerners’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Economic relief programs that are designed to help get people back on their feet might not be well-tailored to rural areas if they don’t have information about those rural communities to begin with,” says research team member Kathryn McConnell, a YSE PhD candidate.
The team recently published a paper
in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
(PNAS) with J. Tom Mueller from Utah State University as first author. In it, the researchers presented the results of their first survey of rural western residents, administered from June to July 2020 by numerous methods including mail, text, and phone. Over 1,000 participants, including populationally representative samples of Latinx and Native American respondents from 11 western states, were asked questions about changes to their health, economic situation, and overall well-being due to the pandemic.