Rural America | KUNR

Rural America

More rural Americans are getting vaccinated against COVID-19 as cases and deaths from the delta variant continue to surge across the West. Vaccination rates have increased by two-thirds over the past three weeks, according to an analysis of CDC data by the Center for Rural Strategies.

An image of a bright orange sun sitting ominously in a dark afternoon sky. The silhouette of a hill with trees on it is visible as a black mass.
Paul Boger / KUNR Public Radio

Here are the local news headlines for the morning of Wednesday, Sept. 1, 2021.

COVID-19 infection rates in the rural parts of the Mountain West continue to drop, despite the fact that public health officials in the region are struggling to get more people vaccinated.

Across the country the number of new cases in rural counties are at their lowest levels since July 2020, according to data from the nonprofit aggregator USA Facts that was analyzed by The Daily Yonder.

An image of the Wynn Resorts Casino in Las Vegas, Nev.
Vincent Bradison / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Here are your local news headlines for the morning of Wednesday, May 5, 2021.

Diane Huntress, 74, lives in Denver and says trying to get a COVID shot for her and her husband David is like applying for a job.

“I can't talk to anyone," she said. "There's no phone number and all the emails we get say, ‘Do not reply.’ And the problem is, where can I go, can I get there, and when are they going to have it?”

She says vaccines take up all the oxygen among her social circle, too: "I can't see anybody, an acquaintance on Zoom without the question, ‘Have you gotten the vaccine yet?’”

Two Western lawmakers have reintroduced companion bills to establish a federal conservation corps. It would invest $9 billion in a civilian workforce dedicated to public lands, part of a $40 billion package focused on conservation, restoration and rural economies.

About a third of Americans living in rural areas say they probably or definitely would not get a COVID-19 vaccine, according to a recent analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation.


Last summer, I met up with Ben Barto outside the small town of Dubois, Wyo. He's a huge Trump supporter and we were having a conversation about where he thought America was headed. 

"Revolution," he said. "I think it's headed there."

Democrats once again lost ground in much of the rural West. That includes Montana, where Republicans swept the election for the first time in at least two decades. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., will soon be the lone progressive holding federal office in the state. He's also the only working farmer in the U.S. Senate and author of a new book, Grounded: A Senator's Lessons On Winning Back Rural America. He spoke about lessons learned from November's election with reporter Nate Hegyi of the Mountain West News Bureau.

A syringe needle filling with a vaccine
Weyo / Adobe Stock

The news of a promising COVID-19 vaccine from pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and the German company BioNTech is generating optimism this week.

But in the Mountain West, there will be significant challenges in storing and distributing this type of vaccine in rural areas.

Nate Hegyi, rural reporter for the Mountain West News Bureau, is embarking on a 900-mile cycling trip crisscrossing the continental divide in August and September, interviewing and listening to Americans ahead of the 2020 election. You can follow along on social media, an online blog and this "Where Is He Now?" map.

Nate Hegyi, rural reporter for the Mountain West News Bureau, is embarking on a 900-mile cycling trip crisscrossing the continental divide in August and September, interviewing and listening to Americans ahead of the 2020 election. You can follow along on social media, an online blog and this "Where Is He Now?" map.

Nate Hegyi, rural reporter for the Mountain West News Bureau, is embarking on a 900-mile cycling trip crisscrossing the continental divide in August and September, interviewing and listening to Americans ahead of the 2020 election. You can follow along on social media, an online blog and this "Where Is He Now?" map.

Nate Hegyi, rural reporter for the Mountain West News Bureau, is embarking on a 900-mile cycling trip crisscrossing the continental divide in August and September, interviewing and listening to Americans ahead of the 2020 election. You can follow along on social media, an online blog and this "Where Is He Now?" map.

Nate Hegyi, rural reporter for the Mountain West News Bureau, is embarking on a 900-mile cycling trip crisscrossing the continental divide in August and September, interviewing and listening to Americans ahead of the 2020 election. You can follow along on social media, an online blog and this "Where Is He Now?" map.

Nate Hegyi, rural reporter for the Mountain West News Bureau, is embarking on a 900-mile cycling trip crisscrossing the continental divide in August and September, interviewing and listening to Americans ahead of the 2020 election. You can follow along on social media, an online blog and this "Where Is He Now?" map.

Nate Hegyi, rural reporter for the Mountain West News Bureau, is embarking on a 900-mile cycling trip crisscrossing the continental divide in August and September, interviewing and listening to Americans ahead of the 2020 election. You can follow along on social media, an online blog and this "Where Is He Now?" map.

A water tower on top of a hill with leafless trees and a power line behind it.
Michael Cramer / Flickr Creative Commons

Senate Democrats are pushing the Federal Communications Commission to expedite progress on broadband connectivity in Native communities. 

Nate Hegyi, rural reporter for the Mountain West News Bureau, is embarking on a 900-mile cycling trip crisscrossing the continental divide in August and September, interviewing and listening to Americans ahead of the 2020 election. You can follow along on social media, an online blog and this "Where Is He Now?" map.

Nate Hegyi, rural reporter for the Mountain West News Bureau, is embarking on a 900-mile cycling trip crisscrossing the continental divide in August and September, interviewing and listening to Americans ahead of the 2020 election. You can follow along on social media, an online blog and this "Where Is He Now?" map.

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