Rural Texas hospitals should be staffing up to face coronavirus. Many can’t afford to.

At a time when most hospitals are ramping up capacity to treat a massive number of patients who may become infected with COVID-19, rural hospital administrators say financial hardships could force them to do the opposite.

Before the contagious new coronavirus arrived in Texas, rural hospitals already faced a bleak financial forecast. Demographic shifts, high shares of uninsured patients and cuts to the facilities’ Medicare payments have for years led hospital administrators to abandon small-town markets where they could not turn a profit. In Texas, 26 rural hospitals have closed since 2010, according to a rural hospital trade association; roughly 160 remain.

Read more from Edgar Walters with The Texas Tribune here.