Only a month after the first COVID-19 death occurred in rural Matagorda County, reported cases had already spread to 198 counties as of April 21. And cases are rising quickly in rural areas with limited medical resources: in East Texas, where all of the state’s more than 20 rural hospital closures have occurred in the past seven years; in South Texas; and in the Panhandle, where many counties have no doctors and residents often have to travel hours for medical care.
Using state health data, we mapped the rate of COVID-19 cases per 100 licensed primary care physicians by county. Hover over a county to see the number of confirmed cases, the number of deaths, and the number of primary care physicians. Counties are colored in shades of red—darker red “hot spots” illustrate the highest rate of cases per 100 licensed doctors and counties that have no doctor at all. Generally, experts say COVID-19 has gone underreported and undiagnosed because of a shortage of tests. Many counties without primary care physicians have zero, one, or two confirmed COVID-19 cases, even though some are surrounded by counties reporting far more, indicating that even more rural residents may be going untested.
We’ll update this map as we learn about new cases.
How has COVID-19 changed your life? Let us know.
Read more from the Observer:
State Employees Criticize Texas’ Uneven Approach to Worker Safety Amid COVID-19: A slow, patchwork response to COVID-19 has jeopardized worker safety for some of Texas’ lowest-paid public employees.
COVID-19 Cases Now Tied to Meat Plants in Rural Texas Counties Wracked with Coronavirus: The outbreaks, which are being investigated by the state health agency, represent the first reported cases of the virus inside Texas meatpacking plants, and are in rural areas where medical resources are already stretched thin.
Spinning Their Wheels: Dallas’ paltry public transit system makes owning a car all but required. So as the metroplex booms, many low-income residents are shut out of jobs and services they need.