Public health partisanship confronts a new reality: The virus is surging in rural America

Public health partisanship confronts a new reality: The virus is surging in rural America Cover Image
Many counties in rural America face vulnerabilities, as Covid-19 surges across areas that were once spared, reporter Abigail Hauslohner explains. Reporter Aaron Blake weighs in on what this shift means for the president, partisanship and public health.

About Can He Do That?

“Can He Do That?” is The Washington Post’s politics podcast, exploring this extraordinary moment in American history with insight into how our government works, how to understand ongoing events, and what happens when branches of government collide.

In this episode

This week, the United States reached a grim milestone: Covid-19 deaths surpassed 100,000 in this country. In recent weeks, the geographic areas and the communities this deadly virus touches, have begun to shift.

The Washington Post analyzed case data and interviews with public health professionals in several states to find that the pandemic, which first struck in major cities, is now increasingly moving into the country’s rural areas.

Rural America faces unique and significant challenges that make an outbreak there likely to be particularly deadly. What’s more, the virus seems to have taken hold in many of the counties where residents are more likely to flout social distancing guidelines or believe the pandemic to be exaggerated by President Trump’s political foes and a liberal media.

The virus’s effect on rural America may make things more politically complicated for the president, who has at times raised doubt around key public health measures like masks, business closures and social distancing.

So in our current political climate, where health guidance seems to have become a heated partisan issue, how might a shift in which parts of the country are touched by the pandemic alter the actions of Trump or his supporters? Might the Trump campaign’s political calculations change? And how might partisan divisiveness over public health measures evolve, as the virus moves to previously unaffected parts of the country?

On this episode of the“Can He Do That?” podcast, national reporter Abigail Hauslohner discusses the tragic vulnerabilities many counties in rural America face, as the coronavirus surges across many parts of the country that were originally spared from it. Plus, senior political reporter Aaron Blake offers insight into the relationship between the president, partisanship and public health guidelines.

Related reading and listening

About Can He Do That?

“Can He Do That?” is The Washington Post’s politics podcast, exploring this extraordinary moment in American history with insight into how our government works, how to understand ongoing events, and what happens when branches of government collide.