The safest place from the coronavirus in the US might be a tiny town on an off-the-beaten path peninsula connected to Canada south of Vancouver, according to a report.
The 1,300 or so residents of Point Roberts — which is part of Washington state but not directly connected to the US mainland – have not been affected by the pandemic so far, according to the UK’s Guardian.
“It’s probably the safest place to be in the country,” Pamala Sheppard, 65, who has lived in the enclave on the southernmost tip of the Tsawwassen peninsula since 1989, told the news outlet.
“Because our borders are shut, we’re like an island right now. We’re like an island with no boats,” she added.
The isolated town – about 135 miles northwest of Seattle — may be reached by boat, flying into its single-runway airport or driving past two international border crossings through the southwest corner of Canada, the news outlet reported.
Local fire Chief Christopher Carleton said that on a typical weekend last year, the town would see about 2,000 vehicles travel over its border – but that number has now dropped below 100.
Residents can still cross the border for essential travel, including for medical appointments and to pick up prescriptions, but any outsider trying to get into the town would have a tough time getting past border agents, Carleton told The Guardian.
“Economically it’s hurting our community, as with any community that’s going through this at this point, but it is in a sense also protecting our community,” he said.
Carleton said it was possible that a resident traveled on their own to the mainland to be tested for COVID-19, but no cases have been reported to the town’s health officials.
A local outbreak could be devastating because about 70 percent of Point Roberts’ residents are 60 or older, the age group deemed to be at higher risk of the disease, he noted.
The town’s clinic is only staffed with a nurse practitioner and a physician’s assistant. EMS workers have to transport any seriously ill person to the mainland by ground through Canada or evacuate them via helicopter.
Despite its isolation, Point Roberts is following the measures put in place by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, including a stay-home mandate, a ban on all gatherings and the closure of all non-essential businesses.
Theresa Coe, 57, who works at the local marina, said that when she drives the mile and a half from her home to work every day, she doesn’t see anyone on the streets.
“This is the safest place in probably North America; definitely within the states,” she told The Guardian. “You have US customs coming in and Canadian customs going out. Nothing’s going to happen here or very little.”