The U.S. Department of Agriculture says that it is investing $42.5 million in 133 distance learning and telemedicine projects in 37 states and two territories. The projects, which will be funded through the USDA Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) grant program, could impact 5.4 million rural residents.

“Distance learning and telemedicine make it easier for thousands of rural residents to take advantage of economic, health care and educational opportunities without having to travel long distances,” Donald Levy, the USDA’s Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development, said in a press release. “Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Perdue, USDA is committed to partnering with rural communities to help them improve their quality of life, because when rural America thrives, all of America thrives.”

The targeted states and territories are Alaska, Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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The press release offered three examples of projects being funded:

  • Mississippi State University is receiving $488,315 to update video conferencing and cloud-based equipment in 93 counties. This will impact almost 29,000 Mississippi residents.
  • The Lisbon Exempted Village School District in Ohio will receive $323,478 to create a distance learning network to provide classes and behavioral health services at eight sites in Columbiana County. It will impact 850 students.
  • Owensboro Health Inc. in Kentucky will receive $460,820 to install telemedicine equipment at 10 sites in Hopkins, McLean, Muhlenberg and Ohio counties in Kentucky. It will impact about 35,000 residents and almost 2,000 patients.

In February, the USDA said that it would prioritize applications to the DLT program to help address the opioid crisis in rural communities. The agency said it would grant as many as 30 special consideration points for projects supporting treatment for opioids in 220 at-risk counties. Applications were due by April 15.

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