Resource Library

COVID-19 Update: The John T. Gorman Foundation is curating a list of resources, emerging best practices, and innovative ideas from across the country to help local organizations serve vulnerable Mainers during the coronavirus outbreak. To access those resources, visit www.jtgfoundation.org/resources/covid-19 or enter Covid-19 in the keyword search. Those results can be further focused by using the “Filter by” menu above to filter by population type (Young Children, Older Youth, Families, and Seniors) or by clicking the following links: childcare, education, food security, housing, rural areas, and workforce.

The John T. Gorman Foundation strives to be data-driven and results based and seeks to promote information and ideas that advance greater understanding of issues related to our mission and priorities. In our effort to promote these values, we offer these research and best practice resources collected from reputable sources across the country. The library also includes briefs and reports the Foundation has commissioned or supported, a listing of which can be found here.

 

Rural COVID-19 cases and deaths are declining, although rural vaccination rates lag urban rates

April 27, 2021 – Families

For the week of April 18-24, rural new COVID-19 infection rates declined by almost 15 percent in rural (nonmetropolitan) counties. Similarly, the number of weekly rural deaths also fell by over 10 percent, reaching the lowest point since mid-July 2020. The weekly rate of new infections in rural areas was 97 per 100,000 residents, lower than the urban new infection rate of 127 per 100,000 residents. States with clusters of “red-zone” counties with high numbers of new infections include Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, southern New York, and New Hampshire. #covid-19 #rural

92 percent of children living in rural Maine will benefit from Child Tax Credit expansion in American Rescue Plan

April 22, 2021 – Older Youth, Families

Included in the American Rescue Plan Act is a temporary expansion of both the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC). For the tax year 2021, these expansions raise the minimum EITC for childless workers from about $540 to about $1,500 and expanded the eligible age range to include both young adults ages 19-24 and adults 65 and over. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that EITC expansion will benefit 21 percent of workers without children living in rural Maine (a total of 38,000 workers). Some key changes to the CTC include expanding it to reach families with low or no earnings, to count 17-year-olds as dependents, and to increase maximum credits to $3,600 for children under six (and $3,000 for those over 6). In rural Maine, an estimated 92 percent of children under 18 years old will benefit from CTC expansion. #covid-19 #rural #Maine

Rural health leaders call for partnership and collaboration to address rural health gaps

April 21, 2021 – Families

A new article in The Journal of Rural Health synthesizes the proceedings from a 2018 national workshop and convening of rural health leaders to draw out lessons on rural research and health practice that can be applied to the COVID- 19 context. Using qualitative methodologies, the authors drew on notes, recordings, transcripts, and presentations of included discussions, concluding that rural health has been long overlooked. On the research side, the analysis revealed that investments are needed in dedicated rural health research mechanisms that allow researchers to build relationships with communities and understand appropriate research design. On the applied health side, the importance of recognizing the unique challenges of rural areas, the extent of rural diversity, and the role of culturally/linguistically appropriate approaches arose as especially important and actionable. Authors conclude that the COVID context has only deepened the need for the work called for in 2018. #covid-19 #rural

Rural seniors trail urban counterparts in vaccinations

April 20, 2021 – Seniors

National Public Radio has analyzed county-level vaccine data from the CDC to examine rural-urban disparities. Analysis shows that the share of adults vaccinated in rural and urban counties is generally similar; however, among people age 65 or older, most states have higher vaccination rates in urban counties than in rural. In Maine, the vaccination rate for urban seniors is 4.5 percentage points higher than rural seniors. In only seven states are rural seniors more likely to be vaccinated: New Hampshire leads this trend with rural senior vaccination rates 5.8 percentage points higher than among urban seniors. This pattern of rural lags is especially troubling given the age structure of rural places: with older populations, and therefore greater shares of the population eligible for vaccination earlier on, rural counties should have higher vaccination rates overall. The article highlights the successes of certain rural places in the Southwest that have focused on collaborative, community-based networks to dispense vaccines, and encourages other rural places to utilize those models for outreach. #covid-19 #vaccination #rural

McKinsey & Company compiles potential near-term actions for rural communities

March 10, 2021 – Families

An article from McKinsey & Company highlights some near-term actions that rural communities with especially high shares of residents of color can use to manage the pandemic. While rural areas in general have been severely impacted by COVID-19, these racially and ethnically diverse rural counties are reporting death rates 1.6 times higher than other rural counties. In the short-term, rural communities will need to simultaneously treat current COVID-19 cases, reduce virus transmission, and meet mental health and social needs. The article includes potential research-informed actions that rural stakeholders can take in each of these three domains. #covid-19 #rural #racialequity #mentalhealth

New Hampshire police aim to better understand at-risk residents through voluntary information sharing program

March 10, 2021 – Families

The Concord Monitor describes a new program aimed at reducing challenges for law enforcement who interact with vulnerable residents. Rolled out in a few New Hampshire towns, the “Unique Needs Program” allows families to submit important information about at-risk loved ones to their local precinct, in case officers encounter them in the community. The public can submit the online form about family members with a chronic mental illness, a developmental disability, or memory loss, and include their physical description, emergency contact information, fears and phobias, particular behaviors, and/or favorite locations. When officers encounter a registered person or are dispatched to their address, they will be better informed and prepared to understand special circumstances. This effort comes alongside a new requirement for enhanced training on mental illness, special training on autism, and new crisis intervention specialty training. Disability advocates in the state suggest that while these efforts could reduce misunderstandings that result in tragic outcomes for people with disabilities, officers still need to seek out feedback and ideas from disabled people themselves to truly meet community needs. #covid-19 #rural #mentalhealth

Vaccine hesitance may still pose barrier in rural places

March 2, 2021 – Families

Research from the editor of The Daily Yonder uses a national Kaiser Family Foundation poll conducted in November and December 2020 to identify differences in willingness to get vaccinated by place type. The paper reports that 35 percent of rural residents said they “probably” or “definitely” would not get a COVID-19 vaccine if it was free, safe, and effective. This compares with just 26 and 27 percent of urban and suburban residents, respectively. This place-based difference persisted even after controlling for political party, age, and education. Rural residents were also most likely to agree that the seriousness of COVID-19 is exaggerated in the news: 50 percent agreed, compared with 27 of urban residents and 37 percent of suburban residents. However, the author also notes that vaccine attitudes are not static, and that overall willingness has improved since the last time the poll was conducted in September. #covid-19 #rural

Counties tackle transportation challenges for residents seeking vaccines

March 2, 2021 – Families

The National Association of Counties highlights the efforts some counties have undertaken to shift public transit resources to transporting residents to vaccination sites. Some counties have utilized rural transit dollars allocated via the CARES Act while other places are leveraging pandemic related reductions in public transit ridership to dedicate vehicles and drivers to the effort. Coordinators identify short turnarounds as the main barrier, so it is essential to ensure that residents know county transportation is available even before booking an appointment, so residents do not turn down vaccination opportunities for fear of not having a ride. #covid-19 #vaccination #rural

Substantial fall in number of rural COVID-19 deaths, new infections

February 23, 2021 – Families

After setting new records in December and early January, COVID-19 death rates and new infection rates are dropping substantially in rural (nonmetropolitan) counties. In the past week alone (February 14–20), the number of deaths in rural counties decreased by one third (from hovering around 3,600 down to 2,404 deaths). The number of new COVID-19 cases has dropped by 75% from the peak at 230,000 new infections the first week of January down to 56,296 mid-February. The rural death rate remains higher than the urban (metropolitan) rate, although both rates have dropped by about a third in the last week. #covid-19 #rural

New research highlights effectiveness of telephone well-being checks for rural older adults

January 21, 2021 – Seniors

Researchers in West Virginia describe their pilot model for connecting with older adults by phone in the pandemic. The team interviewed 124 community-dwelling residents, aged 75 or older, across four rural West Virginia counties about their wellbeing and material needs. The authors found that 97 percent of interviewees expressed preference for telephone contact over other methods. Further, 14 percent of calls resulted in an intervention by the research team, including helping interviewees schedule emergency home repairs, supplying medical equipment, or scheduling urgent health care appointments, with the greatest need for support among the oldest residents and those with two or more chronic conditions. The authors suggest that systematically telephoning rural older adults is an effective and low-cost outreach strategy for service providers. #covid-19 #rural

Tribal nations focus on protecting elders to preserve culture after immeasurable losses to COVID-19

January 12, 2021 – Seniors

With COVID-19 killing Native people at nearly twice the rate of white people, the loss of tribal elders has spurred a cultural crisis for many tribes. With many tribal cultures reliant on oral tradition and few remaining speakers of native languages, tribal nations are worried about the cultural annihilation that comes with losing elders to COVID-19. To mitigate this threat, tribal leaders and nonprofits are working to reach and protect those most in need. Strategies have included delivering groceries and hygiene supplies to elders, training young people to monitor their grandparents’ vital signs with tribe-distributed thermometers and oxygen meters, and prioritizing tribal elders at the front of vaccination queues. However, vaccination efforts among this group are complicated by the fact that many tribal elders live in very rural communities without transportation. Importantly, these elders also experience deep mistrust of the government and medical institutions, seeded by long histories of forced assimilation, medical experimentation, and other brutal acts of racism. #covid-19 #racialequity #seniors #rural

School meal delivery offers teachers difficult glimpse into students’ living arrangements

January 3, 2021 – Older Youth

An article from USA Today documents a sobering side effect to school systems’ conversion to school meal drop off models in the pandemic: often for the first time, school staff and educators saw firsthand their students’ living conditions. While teachers delivering meals in rural Illinois were shocked and troubled to find students living without indoor plumbing, electricity, and windows, they also found that seeing students’ home lives prepared them to better support those learners. In addition, parents noted that seeing school staff during meal drop-off provided a sense of “normalcy” amid the upheaval of the pandemic. #covid-19 #education #foodsecurity