Between the lines: Rural communities in the U.S. have more vulnerable health care systems and more vulnerable populations. Many are on the verge of becoming overwhelmed by coronavirus patients as caseloads continue to grow.

Coronavirus patients are occupying the highest portions of hospital beds in Midwestern and Mountain West states. And hospitalizations tend to trail cases by a few weeks, meaning the burden on hospitals is only likely to get worse.

As the outbreak also continues to grow in big cities, rural systems may end up with nowhere to send patients after they run out of room to treat them.

Health care workers are less likely to be able to temporarily relocate to hotspots, as they’ll be needed in their own communities.