Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Announcements

February 11, 2021

HHS Adds Categories of Those Allowed to Administer COVID-19 Vaccine. On February 2, 2021, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) issued an amendment to the emergency Declaration made last March in response to COVID-19. The amendment allows additional categories of health care professionals – including physicians, registered nurses, and practical nurses with recently expired licenses – to administer COVID-19 vaccinations. 

Annual Update of the HHS Poverty Guidelines. On February 1, 2021, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services released new guidelines used to determine financial eligibility for certain federal programs. Programs using the guidelines include Head Start, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the National School Lunch Program, the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.

ERS: Rural Residents More Vulnerable to COVID-19. The Economic Research Service (ERS) at the U.S. Department of Agriculture examines trends in COVID-19 case rates and death rates for urban and rural areas. 

Research: Impact of COVID-19 Shutdown on Mental Health in Appalachia.  A study published in the Journal of Appalachian Health examines whether there were higher levels of anxiety, fear, and depression among those who continued working outside the home compared with those who began working remotely during the shutdown. A separate article in the same issue, A Description of COVID-19 Lifestyle Restrictions Among a Sample of Rural Appalachian Women, gives findings of a survey that asked about social interactions, doctor visits, child care, and substance use recovery. 

Research: Minority Race/Ethnicity and Cancer Disparities in Rural Areas of the United States. The Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute (MDPI) is an international organization providing open access to more than 300 academic journals. In an article published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, researchers examine how racism and related social determinants of health expose rural Black and American Indian/Alaska Native populations to greater risk of developing cancer. 

CRS Backgrounder on Federal Broadband Programs. The Congressional Research Service (CRS) provides objective policy and legal analysis to committees and members of the U.S. House and Senate. This report provides an overview of federal programs designed to accelerate broadband deployment and adoption in minority communities, rural and tribal areas, and among other eligible households.