Thursday, May 28, 2020

Some rural areas push back against pandemic distancing

Conservatives in several states, mostly from rural areas, have filed lawsuits challenging state government-ordered public health measures meant to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The suits highlight the differences in how rural and urban areas are experiencing and perceiving the pandemic, Kirk Siegler reports for NPR affiliate KUOW in Seattle.

In Oregon, where the rural-urban divide has been particularly hostile in recent years, rural churches filed suit to vacate Democratic Gov. Kate Brown's stay-at-home orders. A rural judge ruled last week that Brown had acted beyond her authority, though her orders will remain in effect pending appeals.

Baker County Commission Chair Bill Harvey, a plaintiff in the most recent lawsuit, supports the judge's ruling. "You don't have the threats you would have in a major city," he told Krebs. "You can't judge or control our atmosphere based on what you think the Portland area should be." The local economy depends on tourism and cattle ranching, both of which have been hurt by the pandemic.

Katherine Cramer, a University of Wisconsin political scientist, told Siegler that the pandemic has exacerbated rural residents' worries that the government is disregarding them. "The idea that the government is not attentive enough to the actual challenges of rural communities is not new," she said. "The pandemic seems to have deepened some of the resentment that's been there for a long time." Cramer is on a webinar Friday that will discuss rural-urban differences in the pandemic.

No comments: