Rural America’s False Sense of Security

Rural America’s False Sense of Security
(AP Photo/Matthew Brown)

Every few months throughout the pandemic, Wesley Thompson, a communications consultant in Washington, D.C., has driven to Indiana with his wife and two kids to visit his parents. He wanted to escape COVID cabin fever and give his 4- and 2-year-old some room to run around, which they could do more easily in his parents’ small town.

The trips have offered him a glimpse into how Americans who live between the coasts have been spending the pandemic. In the summer of 2020, some people around his parents’ hometown “would look at us like we’re crazy for wearing masks in public,” Thompson told me. At one point, the family ate at a Mexican restaurant where the workers weren’t masked and thought the Thompsons were strange for wanting to sit outside on a hot day.

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