On Nov. 19, we celebrated National Rural Health Day across the nation.

This year more than ever, this day was especially important. The COVID-19 pandemic made it abundantly clear that those living in rural America are especially vulnerable to this deadly disease.

This day of recognition not only brings to light the health care issues facing our rural health providers and first responders, but also honors their heroic efforts since the COVID-19 virus has ravaged our country.

Let’s not forget there are 57 million Americans living in rural communities and all of them deserve the best possible medical care. Over the years, U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development has become a major partner to rural America by providing financing to pay for numerous health care projects.

For example, here in New Mexico, we’ve funded the construction of hospitals, medical centers, the purchase of ambulances and medical equipment, and the construction of a factory making medical gloves. We’ve also funded telemedicine systems and Project ECHO operated by the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center, which provides a weekly educational series to medical professionals on how to handle and treat COVID-19.

Please know we have not given up the fight and USDA Rural Development will continue our commitment to provide the financial support to our rural health care entities.

Finally, please join me in thanking and honoring our health care providers and our first responders who have dedicated themselves to provide the best possible health care to our rural residents at all times, especially now during this pandemic.

Remember, their commitment could be saving your life someday.

Blake Curtis

State Director,

USDA Rural Development