You Can’t Wall Yourself Off From COVID-19

Politico writes about Graham County, North Carolina:

With the coronavirus beginning to spread nearby, all accommodation businesses in the county—hotels, motels, guesthouses, campgrounds—had to close by March 23 at noon; exceptions would be made only for people who could prove the need for a “legitimate work-related stay.” What’s more, starting on March 27, anyone traveling on Highways 129 and NC-28—the two roads into Graham County—would have to show a county address or, for nonresidents, proof of property ownership in order to enter. Anyone seeking to enter for business purposes would have to apply for a permit. Checkpoints with orange cones and barricades soon went up, and sheriff’s deputies camped out under tents around the clock.

Is this even legal? Can counties just block off federal and state highways whenever they want to? And what if I’m in Chilhowee and I need to get to Cowee? That’s a helluva detour if I can’t take Highway 28 through Graham County:

I sympathize with the problems faced by small, rural counties with no hospitals and sparse health care in general. But surely this isn’t the solution. As long as residents are free to come and go, you’re eventually going to get some cases of COVID-19. And once you’ve got a few, it’s only a matter of time until you have a lot. In the 21st century, it’s just not possible to wall yourself off from the world.

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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