How One Rural, Red County is Handling the Coronavirus

The residents of Del Norte County are a fiercely independent people. The area is rural and conservative, with perhaps its biggest claim to fame being its alleged Bigfoot encounters. Residents haven’t voted for a Democratic presidential candidate in decades.

As the Los Angeles Times reports, implementing social distancing policies in a county like Del Norte is a tough needle to thread.

“For people living here, we kind of naturally social distance already,” County Sheriff Erik Apperson told the Times. “But, if we start pushing too far onto people’s civil rights and personal liberties — their ability to move freely, or get out onto the ocean to fish — well, what are we doing here?”

Fortunately, because counties like Del Norte are so spread out, coronavirus doesn’t have an easy time finding hosts. But if and when an outbreak occurs in a remote area like this, the delicate state of medicine can be deadly.

To date, there have only been two confirmed cases of coronavirus in Del Norte. Rumor has it that one of the cases was from an outsider, which only adds to residents’ insular inclinations.

But “it takes just one person,” Sheriff’s Department Spokesman Bill Steven noted.

Today, the restaurants are closed, but people continue to fish and hunt. Try to curtail either of those activities and the pushback from residents would be swift.

“I think we’ve responded well and the precautions we have taken are necessary,” one local told the Times. “But if you start doing things that go against the data that we have, well, I’m not sure that’s a good thing.”

Read more about how Del Norte is handling the pandemic here.