Pulitzer Center grantee Jordan Wolman's project focuses on the lack of internet access in rural Pennsylvania. One county official estimated as many as one-third of that rural county's residents do not have any internet access—not just poor access, but none at all. The impacts are wide reaching. Since the Census Bureau does not deliver physical copies of the Census to P.O. boxes, which many rural residents have, the state's rural counties are in serious jeopardy of being undercounted in the Census. A low Census count in turn impacts funding for schools, social services, health care, etc., and representation in Congress to fight for said funding.
There are also specific impacts related to the pandemic. A lack of internet access affects education now more than ever. How schools, teachers, and students are adapting could determine the future success of these regions and our country at large. Another piece to the puzzle, of course, will be finding out what makes it so hard for both providers to do business in rural areas and for state lawmakers to produce change.