The COVID fight requires cooperation in rural communities

We need all hands on deck to be victorious in controlling this virus

The COVID-19 fight requires governments, health providers, religious and community leaders, businesses, community organizations and grandparents to work together from their strengths. They each have specific responsibilities and skills to contribute to this fight.

Helen Keller reminds us, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much more.”

Our first challenge in rural communities is we did not take COVID-19 seriously; far too many thought of this as an urban problem. Younger adults considered themselves strong and healthy and thought the virus would not hurt them. And then, there is the misinformation that has captured the minds of many. The majority of older citizens took the virus seriously; we knew we were vulnerable.

Our second challenge is limited health resources; unfortunately, we have struggled for too many years. Many of our citizens are low-income with existing health issues and must travel miles to receive special health care. We must seriously address the lack of needed health resources to conquer this virus and have healthy lives.

Now, this delta variant, more contagious than the original COVID 19, requires us to be more united in this fight.

Federal, state and local governments can and should provide necessary resources and policies that protect and sustain testing, vaccinations, school repairs (including ventilation) and personnel to address the impact of COVID in the community. Resources, policy and personnel are critical but insufficient to persuade unvaccinated citizens to exploit these resources and protections. Local governments have a strong voice in this fight for needed health programs and infrastructure.

Our health providers, county health departments, hospitals, doctors, nurses, emergency service workers provide vaccinations, transport seriously ill patients to hospitals and care for those affected by COVID-19. This virus threat has inspired community organizations to get involved. Health providers are overworked and emotionally drained. We may lose some experienced nurses. The two hospitals in the Kerr-Tar area are at capacity or overcrowded.

Religious and community leaders have willingly reached out to their congregations and the community and invited them to be tested and vaccinated. They have made a real difference and need to do more because they are trusted and close. Businesses want to provide a safe space for their employees and customers.

Grandparents have a special bond with their grandchildren and should try to influence them to vaccinate.

We need more people vaccinated. We need to keep people off of ventilators, and from dying. This fight requires all sectors of the community to work together.

Rural communities, families and neighbors learn to depend on each other out of necessity or neighborly love. Children sing a song, “Together We Can Do it.” Rural communities can win the fight over this virus and improve our health status if we all work together.

Eva Clayton represented North Carolina’s 1st Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1992 to 2003.