Ohio University Press · Swallow Press ·

Masks, Misinformation, and Making Do
Appalachian Health-Care Workers and the COVID-19 Pandemic

Edited by Wendy Welch
Foreword by Alan Morgan

“The ‘story’ of rural America during the COVID-19 pandemic is best examined by looking at the response of an underresourced and poorly designed system of care, providing care for a population most at risk for the pandemic.”

Alan Morgan, chief executive officer of the National Rural Health Association

The firsthand pandemic experiences of rural health-care providers—who were already burdened when COVID-19 hit—raise questions about the future of public health and health-care delivery.

This volume comprises the COVID-19 pandemic experiences of Appalachian health-care workers, including frontline providers, administrators, and educators. The combined narrative reveals how governmental and corporate policies exacerbated the region’s injustices, stymied response efforts, and increased the death toll.

Beginning with an overview of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and its impact on the body, the essays in the book’s first section provide background material and contextualize the subsequent explosion of telemedicine, the pandemic’s impact on medical education, and its relationship to systemic racism and related disparities in mental health treatment.

Next, first-person narratives from diverse perspectives recount the pandemic’s layered stresses, including

  • the scramble for ventilators, masks, and other personal protective equipment
  • the neighbors, friends, and family members who flouted public-health mandates, convinced that COVID-19 was a hoax
  • the added burden the virus leveled on patients whose health was already compromised by cancer, diabetes, or addiction
  • the acute ways the pandemic’s arrival exacerbated interpersonal and systemic racism that Black and other health-care workers of color bear
  • not only the battle against the virus but also the growing suspicion and even physical abuse from patients convinced that doctors and nurses were trying to kill them

These visceral, personal experiences of how Appalachian health-care workers responded to the pandemic amid the nation’s deeply polarized political discourse will shape the historical record of this “unprecedented time” and provide a glimpse into the future of rural medicine.

Contributors: Lucas Aidukaitis, Clay Anderson, Tammy Bannister, Alli Delp, Lynn Elliott, Monika Holbein, Laura Hungerford, Nikki King, Brittany Landore, Jeffrey J. LeBoeuf, Sojourner Nightingale, Beth O’Connor, Rakesh Patel, Mildred E. Perreault, Melanie B. Richards, Tara Smith, Kathy Osborne Still, Darla Timbo, Kathy Hsu Wibberly

Wendy Welch is the executive director of the Southwest Virginia Graduate Medical Education Consortium and the author, coauthor, or editor of six books, including Fall or Fly: The Strangely Hopeful Story of Foster Care and Adoption in Appalachia (also from Ohio University Press). She advocates for social justice in health care and other critical areas of development across Appalachia.   More info →

Order a print copy

Paperback · $19.96 ·
Add to Cart

Retail price: $24.95 · Save 20% ($19.96)

Hardcover · $39.96 ·
Add to Cart

Retail price: $49.95 · Save 20% ($39.96)

Buy from a local bookstore


US and Canada only

Download an electronic copy


This is an Open Access title. An electronic version of this book is freely available, thanks to the support of libraries working with Knowledge Unlatched, a collaborative initiative designed to make high quality books Open Access for the public good.

Cover of Masks, Misinformation, and Making Do

Share    Facebook icon  Email icon


Desk Copy Examination Copy Review Copy

Permission to reprint
Permission to photocopy or include in a course pack via Copyright Clearance Center


Retail price: $24.95, S.
Release date: January 2023
10 illus. · 316 pages · 5½ × 8½ in.
Rights:  World

Retail price: $49.95, S.
Release date: January 2023
10 illus. · 316 pages · 5½ × 8½ in.
Rights:  World

Release date: January 2023
10 illus. · 316 pages
Rights: except Worldwide

Related Titles

Cover of 'Ailing in Place'

Ailing in Place
Environmental Inequities and Health Disparities in Appalachia
By Michele Morrone

Ailing in Place examines environmental conditions in Appalachia and explores the relationship between those conditions and certain health outcomes that are often incorrectly ascribed to poor individual choices.

Social Science | Disease & Health Issues · Medical | Health Policy · Environmental Policy · Appalachia

Cover of 'Global Health in Africa'

Global Health in Africa
Historical Perspectives on Disease Control
Edited by Tamara Giles-Vernick and James L. A. Webb Jr.

Global Health in Africa is a first exploration of selected histories of global health initiatives in Africa. The collection addresses some of the most important interventions in disease control, including mass vaccination, large-scale treatment and/or prophylaxis campaigns, harm reduction efforts, and nutritional and virological research.The chapters in this collection are organized in three sections that evaluate linkages between past, present, and emergent.

Medical | Health Policy · African History · Anthropology · Global Issues · African Studies · Africa

Cover of 'Fall or Fly'

Fall or Fly
The Strangely Hopeful Story of Foster Care and Adoption in Appalachia
By Wendy Welch

Chaos. Frustration. Compassion. Desperation. Hope. These are the five words that author Wendy Welch says best summarize the state of foster care in the coalfields of Appalachia. Her assessment is based on interviews with more than sixty social workers, parents, and children who have gone through “the system.” The riveting stories in Fall or Fly tell what foster care is like, from the inside out.In

Adoption and Fostering · Social Work · Appalachia · Social Science | Regional Studies · Trade Nonfiction