Following the July 4th weekend Mississippi surpassed Alabama in the rankings of State’s Covid vaccination progress. Alabama is now 50th in terms of the percentage of citizens vaccinated.

Alabama is receiving $10,335,040 to support COVID response efforts in rural areas as part of the Biden Administration’s ongoing efforts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

While vaccinations continue to increase, this funding through the Small Rural Hospital Improvement Program (SHIP) will go to 40 small rural hospitals in Alabama for COVID-19 testing and mitigation, important parts of the COVID response especially as the country faces new variants.

“The Biden Administration recognizes the important role that small rural hospitals have in closing the equity gap and ensuring that rural Americans can protect themselves and their communities from COVID-19,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Today’s funding will help small rural hospitals continue to serve their communities in this critical role by expanding their COVID-19 testing capacity and mitigation efforts.”

State Offices of Rural Health, which work with small rural hospitals to implement quality and operational improvement efforts, will receive the funding announced today to distribute to eligible small rural hospitals in their state. Small rural hospitals—those with fewer than 50 beds and Critical Access Hospitals—are key health care access points and trusted community resources. Hospitals will use the funds to maintain or increase COVID-19 testing, expand access to testing for rural residents, and tailor mitigation efforts to reflect the needs of local communities.

“Our state-based SHIP grantees are important partners in helping to support small rural hospitals,” said HRSA Acting Administrator Diana Espinosa. “HRSA is committed to mitigating the spread of the virus in rural areas by supporting and empowering local providers to tailor their responses to COVID-19 to what works for their communities.”