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Estherville and Graettinger chosen for COVID survey

Researchers will mail questions about impact on rural areas to thousands of Iowans

July 22, 2020
By Amy H. Peterson - Staff Writer , Estherville News

Estherville and Graettinger were chosen as two in a group of 70 communities to take part in a survey about how COVID-19 has affected rural life. Researchers will contact thousands of Iowans as they study the impact of coronavirus on rural areas.

The survey will be conducted by researchers at Iowa State University and the University of Iowa. David Peters, an ISU sociology professor, says there's been much focus on the big metro areas, but very little discussion about Iowa's plentiful rural communities.

"Beyond the packing towns, what's been the impact in small-town America?" Peters asks. "How has isolation, job losses and the economic impacts of the pandemic, coupled with a long-term decline in the farm economy the last three, four, five years, how is that really impacting rural America?"

Researchers are interested in rural Iowans' experiences with job loss, the emotional impact, opinions about schools opening up, and challenges with accessing health care.

"We're also interested in how people social distance - or not - in the communities, but really just to try and get a handle on what they see as the biggest challenges facing them from the pandemic," Peters said.

The surveys should be mailed out within the next few weeks and Peters anticipates the data will be coming back in by early September. "Our survey is meant to really quantify the impact in small towns," Peters says, "and then communicate the needs, the challenges facing small towns, communicate that to state and national policymakers, so when they develop new programs, that they're targeted better towards rural communities." Peters says the National Science Foundation donated $200,000 to both schools to conduct the survey of 12,000 people.

The communities selected for the survey are: Afton, Albia, Anita, Atkins, Audubon, Bancroft, Bedford, Bloomfield, Buffalo Center, Calmar, Center Point, Chariton, Cherokee, Clarence, Clarinda, Colo, Columbus Junction, Corning, Correctionville, Denison, Donnellson, Eagle Grove, Elma, Epworth, Estherville, Fruitland, Garnavillo, George, Gilbertville, Glidden, Gowrie, Graettinger, Hamburg, Hartford, Hartley, Hills, Hospers, Humboldt, Jefferson, Lake Park, Lamoni, Le Claire, Le Mars, Madrid, Mapleton, Mediapolis, Missouri Valley, Monroe, Montezuma, Mount Ayr, Murray, Nashua, Nora Springs, Northwood, Oakland, Pleasantville, Pocahontas, Sac City, Sheffield, Sibley, St. Ansgar, Traer, Ventura, Villisca, Waukon, Waverly, Webster City, Williamsburg, Winfield and Woodward.



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