Tag Archives: covid-19

RTC:Rural researchers publish new paper on trust of information and COVID-19 preventative practices among people with disabilities

first page of the paper.

RTC:Rural researchers recently published a study examining trust in information sources and compliance with COVID-19 public health recommendations among people with disabilities who live in rural and urban locations. “A cross-sectional analysis of trust of information and COVID-19 preventative practices among people with disabilities” was published in Disability and Health Journal, and is currently available online. The research was carried out by RTC:Rural Director Catherine Ipsen and Project Directors Andrew Myers and Rayna Sage

The purpose of the study was to better understand the relationship between how much someone trusts an information source and how likely they are to adhere to COVID-19 preventative practices. Specifically, the researchers wanted to see how disability type, demographics, and geography might be related to trust and adherence to preventative practices.

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Healthy Community Living Program Adapts to the World of Online Service Delivery

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused interruptions and barriers to service delivery for people with disabilities around the country.  When Centers for Independent Living (CILs) offices closed, it affected their ability to offer their usual in-person services, including skills-based trainings and classes.

Healthy Community Living logo - orange circles grey people

Staff from RTC:Rural learned first-hand how the pandemic was affecting CILs’ delivery of such classes. Healthy Community Living (HCL), a health promotion and independent living skills program developed by RTC:Rural staff and disability stakeholders, was designed for in-person delivery. With several partnering CILs actively conducting in-person HCL workshops with consumers when the pandemic hit, it triggered a need for discussions, collaboration, and problem solving to adapt the program’s delivery under vastly new conditions.

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New fact sheet: Unemployment among people with disabilities during COVID-19

Temporary employment may be becoming permanent

cover of fact sheet: unemployment among people with disabilities during COVID-19 recession. Link to full fact sheet in post.

People with disabilities are often the first to experience economic disruptions, and among the last to recover. Unemployment among people with disabilities spiked to 18.9% in April 2020 and declined to 12.5% in September. Both the initial increase and recent decrease in unemployment was primarily driven by changes in temporary unemployment (unemployed workers who expect to go back to their same job within six months). While temporary unemployment has gone down, permanent unemployment has risen since the recession began, and may indicate that for some, temporary unemployment is becoming permanent.

As the recession wears on and unemployment benefits begin to expire, long-term recovery to pre-pandemic levels may become elusive, yet again leaving people with disabilities behind.

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America at a glance: Early fears realized as COVID-19 surges in rural counties

COVID-19 has arrived in rural America. Indeed, the worst outbreaks in October 2020 were in counties with populations less than 50,0001. We knew it was coming2, and yet communities are unprepared to face the significant challenges of caring for COVID-19 patients.

US map showing difference between estimated need for COVID-19 ICU beds and beds available across US counties.
Map of the U.S. showing the difference between expected need for ICU beds and local availability by county. Larger map and text description below.

Risks and impacts of COVID-19 are not distributed evenly. This is especially true for people with disabilities and rural residents who face significant challenges to accessing healthcare. For COVID-19, risk increases with advanced age (aged 65 and older), congregate living such as nursing homes and long-term care facilities, and for individuals with several health conditions including asthma, diabetes, blood disorders, serious heart conditions, severe obesity, and for those who are immunocompromised3. Many of these conditions are reported at higher rates among the population of people with disabilities, placing them at higher risk of COVID-19 related complications4.

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New research brief: Social isolation and loneliness during COVID-19

Comparing pre- and post- ‘stay-at-home’ orders

First page of America at a glance: social isolation and loneliness during the first wave of COVID-19

Social isolation and loneliness are a public health concern because they are associated with poor mental and physical health outcomes and mortality. Social isolation is defined as have few, or no, social connections, and not participating in activities with others. Loneliness is defined as feeling unsatisfied about the amount of social engagement in one’s life.

Before the current pandemic, people with disabilities reported significantly higher rates of social isolation and loneliness than those without disabilities. Inaccessible events and buildings, limited accessible public transportation, social stigma, and lower rates of employment all contribute to these high rates. When restrictions are put in place to help protect people from COVID-19, what happens to these rates?

To learn more about how COVID-19 and public health responses such as stay-at-home orders may contribute to feelings of social isolation and loneliness among people with disabilities, RTC:Rural researchers compared data from two cross-sectional samples collected before and after the first wave of “stay-at-home” orders.

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New research brief: COVID-19 and disability in rural areas

Rural/urban differences in trust in sources and preventative practices

first page of America at a glance: COVID-19 and disability in rural areas research brief.

Public health is shaped by community-level action. This is especially important during crises such as COVID-19, where widespread adoption of public health practices is necessary to manage community spread and prevent loss. Consistent information is important for fostering trust and adherence to recommended practices.

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RTC:Rural project director to present as part of ACL webinar

COVID-19 molecule

On Wednesday, July 1, at 2 p.m. EST (noon MST) Andrew Myers, RTC:Rural Project Director, will present as part of a webinar hosted by the Administration for Community Living (ACL).

The webinar is about supporting rural communities by connecting older adults and people with disabilities to resources during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The webinar will feature researchers and program leaders including:

ACL- Administration for Community Living
  • Amanda Reichard, PhD, National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research, ACL (Moderator)
  • Lance Robertson, Administrator, ACL (Introduction and welcome)
  • Collette Adamsen, PhD, Director, National Resource Center on Native American Aging
  • Sara Tribe Clark, Director, Eldercare Locator
  • Richard Petty, MBA, Director, IL-NET National Training and Technical Assistance Center for independent living at ILRU
  • Andrew Myers, MA, University of Montana Rural Institute

The webinar will be held on Zoom, and registration is not required.

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Building Networks to Expand Living Well Delivery: Project Update

Living Well in the Community logo

We were excited to bring our peer-led self-management program Living Well in the Community to new audiences by facilitating partnerships between Centers for Independent Living and rural hospitals, and begun by teaming up with CILs and rural hospitals in Wyoming and Oregon for the first phase of the project.

And then COVID-19 struck, and like so many things across the country, we needed to adapt, as many hospitals and healthcare settings found themselves dealing with this virus and related difficulties. At the same time, it became dangerous for people to meet in person, especially when the disability community is most at-risk for exposure in this pandemic.

icon representing remote team. Person connected by dotted lines to another person on a screen, and to a globe.
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Skilled Nursing Facilities in Rural Communities: Opportunities for partnering on COVID-19 response efforts

Guest blog post by Dr. Meg Ann Traci, RTC:Rural Knowledge Broker


The devastating and disproportionate rates of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases and deaths in institutional settings continues to be part of the national crisis. With data from the 23 states that publicly report data on deaths within long term care facilities, such as nursing homes, skilled nursing facilities and assisted living facilities, the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates more than one in four COVID-19 related deaths in those states (27%) occurred in such settings. The threat within these medical and personal care settings put people with disabilities and others unable to maintain and manage independence in the community, at increased risk. In rural areas, the threat to such institutionalized populations is likely even greater.

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New fact sheet: How will the COVID-19 recession impact people with disabilities in rural America?

Financial health, employment, and COVID-19

front page of fact sheet: how will the COVID-19 recession impact people with disabilities in rural America?

While many Americans will suffer in the coming recession, people with disabilities in rural areas are especially vulnerable because they are less likely to have an emergency savings fund, have access to paid leave, or be able to work from home.

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