In another special Rural Matters Bonus Brief, Michelle meets with White House Senior Policy Adviser for COVID-19 Equity Dr. Cameron Webb to discuss how COVID-19 and the Delta variant continues to challenge rural America. “We’ve got so many states now with surges and cases, and it tends to track pretty closely to the vaccine rates in states... It is because this Delta variant is really less forgiving... if you are not vaccinated, you are not protected,” said Webb.
They also discuss how staffing shortages effect the number of beds available in rural hospitals. As a result of less elective surgeries during the pandemic, rural hospitals have been hit extra hard. This has resulted in hospitals being forced to cut staffing, leaving some rural residents with less-than-ideal care available to them.
Dr. Webb talks on his belief that the recent FDA approval of the Pfizer MRNA COVID-19 vaccine will help ease the minds of some remaining individuals that haven’t received the shot yet. Michelle brings up the misinformation involving vaccines and COVID-19 treatments, and what messengers of information should be trusted. Dr. Webb suggests trusting local health providers, and the CDC for guidance.
Lastly, they discuss how the Delta variant impacts children. “...more kids are being hospitalized... If you think that just because you made it through 2020 just fine doing things a certain way, what I need (for) you to understand is this is a game changing variant, it spreads with twice the transmissibility,” Dr. Webb stated.
Click the below links to listen to more Rural Matters Bonus Brief episodes with Biden-Harris Administration officials Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack, Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland, White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy, Chief Science Officer of COVID Response Dr. David Kessler, Member of the Council of Economic Advisers Heather Boushey, NIH Director Francis Collins, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, and Secretary of Labor Martin Walsh.