The coronavirus outbreak has hit densely populated urban areas of the United States first and hardest. Some health systems have experienced surges of patients, raising concerns that there are not enough hospital beds, staffing, and equipment. The novel coronavirus was slower to spread to rural areas in the U.S., but that appears to be changing, with new outbreaks becoming evident in less densely populated parts of the country.

A new issue brief looks at urban-rural differences in pandemic preparedness, and finds that non-metro typically have fewer intensive care hospital resources than their urban counterparts, and populations at greater risk of developing serious illness and complications from COVID-19.

The analysis is available in full on the Peterson-KFF Health System Tracker, an online information hub dedicated to monitoring and assessing the performance of the U.S. health system. For more data, analysis, polling and journalism on the COVID-19 pandemic, visit our special resource page on kff.org.