Coronavirus: Investigate Midwest Reporter Diary

First reported in December, there are now just over 297,000 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus, Covid-19, worldwide as of midday Saturday — including more than 22,177 cases in the U.S., according to data collected by John Hopkins University. The Midwest Center is reporting on the pandemic's impact in rural areas and in farm country.

SEEDS OF DESPAIR: Isolated, and with limited access to mental-health care, hundreds are dying by suicide.

American farmers produce nearly all of the country’s food and contribute some $133 billion annually to the gross domestic product.

Yet they now are saddled with near-record debt, declaring bankruptcy at rising rates and selling off their farms amid an uncertain future clouded by climate change and whipsawed by tariffs and bailouts.

For some, the burden is too much to bear.