Quarantine Borders: Island life saves lives


I’ve repeatedly talked about Taiwan’s success at combatting the CCP virus (aka Xi Sickening), but there are a lot of success stories out there.  And all of them have one thing in common: physical isolation.

Point Roberts, Washington is a tiny spit of land that was accidentally made part of the US in the 19th century when the 49th parallel was set as half the Canada-US border.  To drive from Point Roberts to any other part of the US, you must pass through Canada.  Because of its isolation, the town of 1300 has remained untouched by COVID-19.  It is effectively an island, much like South Korea.

Point Roberts an island after COVID-19 forces border closure to non-essential traffic

A Border Task Force developed by the Whatcom Unified Command is working to make sure Point Roberts residents’ needs are met as the county responds to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a news release.

The small Whatcom County town suddenly found itself on an island when the U.S. and Canada agreed to temporarily close the border to non-essential traffic in response to coronavirus on Wednesday, April 18.

That announcement meant Point Roberts, a town below the 49th parallel on the southernmost tip of the Tsawwassen Peninsula with a population of 1,314 people, according to the 2010 census, literally got cut off for non-essential travel with water on three sides and a closed Canadian border to the north.

Many places isolated by water, distance and physical barriers have been among the most successful at controlling the spread of COVID-19, whether nations or regions of other countries: the Isle of Man, Malta, Martinique, Madagascar, Gibraltar, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, Iceland, New Zealand, Vietnam, Laos, Mongolia, Greenland, Sardinia, South Korea, and several others.  Several African countries currently have low counts and may end up the same because of physical separation since world travel stopped.

The oddest case must surely be Venezuela.  Despite its location and population density, is has relatively few infected cases and deaths.  Could it be that the last three years of political and economic turmoil (read: US attempts to overthrow the government) made travel so unpalatable for both business and tourists that no one wanted to go there, thus less spread of COVID-19?

Comments

  1. says

    I’ve been to Point Roberts a couple times. As an expat in British Columbia who often used the Tsawwassen ferry terminal, the curiosity was just too much. Interestingly I thought it had more in common with the town of Tsawwassen than with any particular US town. Driving across the border there, with its little gates similar to what you might find outside a pay parking lot, really changed very little, save that there were a few more trees just inside the US border. Also they don’t have nearly as many businesses as you might think, since many folks can simply cross the border and work in Canada (mixed-nationality families are fairly common there, which results in children with dual citizenship taking over the next generation of housing there…)

    in any case, even with how normal it is, it was interesting just to visit that once. Just to see it.

    All that is prelude though to speculation on Pt Roberts’s COVID-19 cases. They’re not really an island, of course. As Rhiannon pointed out they have a land border with Canada and as I pointed out there’s lots of back-and-forth to the lower mainland of BC. So Pt Roberts success isn’t merely isolation (which did occur when the border closed). It’s the fact that pre-isolation Pt Roberts was effectively protected not by US policies, but by Canadian policies.

    Pt Roberts’ success, then, suggests something about the relative effectiveness of the Canadian and USA governments during this crisis.

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