Rural America watches pandemic erupt in cities as fear grows

In this photo taken March 20, 2020, cattle rancher Mike Filbin, front, and his friend, Joe Whitesell, behind, prepare to herd cattle at Filbin's ranch in Dufur, Oregon. Tiny towns tucked into Oregon's windswept plains and cattle ranches miles from anywhere in South Dakota might not have had a single case of the new coronavirus yet, but their residents fear the spread of the disease to areas with scarce medical resources, the social isolation that comes when the only diner in town closes its doors and the economic free fall that's already hitting them hard. (AP Photo/Gillian Flaccus)

DUFUR, Ore. (AP) — The pandemic’s toll in big cities like New York, Seattle and San Francisco has dominated headlines, but large swaths of rural America are also deeply affected. Tiny towns tucked into Oregon’s windswept plains or on Alaska’s arctic tundra might not have a single case of the new coronavirus yet, but these small communities are still wary. They fear the spread of the disease to areas with scarce medical resources, the social isolation that comes when the only diner in town closes its doors and the economic free fall that’s hitting hard in places where jobs were already hard to come by.