“Because our borders are shut, we’re like an island right now."

By Alison Fox
Updated May 29, 2020
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As coronavirus has swept across the United States, one town in Washington that's also connected to Canada has managed to stave off the pandemic.

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Point Roberts — population 1,300 — can only be accessed by driving through Canada, going on a private boat, or flying in on a small plane, according to the their Business and Tourism Council. The limited point of entry helped prevent coronavirus even more as “non-essential” travel between the U.S. and Canada was temporarily suspended last month.

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About 2,000 cars typically travel over the town’s border on a weekend, Christopher Carleton, the Point Roberts fire chief, told The Guardian. But now, the town — located over 100 miles northwest of Seattle — is seeing less than 100.

“It’s probably the safest place to be in the country,” longtime Point Roberts resident Pamala Sheppard, 65, told the paper. “Because our borders are shut, we’re like an island right now. We’re like an island with no boats.”

That protection is needed since Carleton said about 70 percent of the town’s residents are 60 or older and medical facilities are limited — the town only has a clinic with a nurse practitioner and physician’s assistant and anyone who was in critical condition would have to be brought to the mainland U.S. for hospital treatment either by ground transportation or helicopter.

“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,” Carleton added.

As part of Washington, Point Roberts is subject to the same March 23 stay-at-home order that prohibits all non-essential gatherings and tells residents to stay home except when obtaining things like food and medical care.

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