Monday, July 27, 2020

Coronavirus in rural America (Part LXXV): El Dorado County, California

Posted at the Apple Bistro, Placerville, California 
That's the focus of a story in today's Sacrmaento Bee, headlined "To mask or not to mask?  El Dorado County faces a reckoning this week."  Here's the lede for Tony Bizjak's story:
For a month now, El Dorado County has been the only county in the Sacramento region that has avoided landing on Gov. Gavin Newsom’s “watchlist” of counties that require tighter restrictions to fight the coronavirus
* * * 
Now, with infections on the rise in El Dorado, county officials say they may be days from being added to the governor’s list, a step that would require more businesses to close and would likely force schools to keep doors closed when instruction starts in a few weeks.
The county notably has experienced just one death from the virus. But the number of cases has nearly doubled in the last two weeks alone and the percentage of El Dorado residents’ tests coming back positive for COVID-19 is twice what it was a month ago.
This story from July 17, 2020, about Placerville's Apple Cafe (also varyingly referred to as the Apple Bistro) ran on a local TV station.  Here's the lede:
A Placerville restaurant openly violating public health rules is getting a mix of backlash and support.

There’s a sign encouraging people not to wear masks and gloves in front of the Apple Bistro. The owner said he disagrees with county health rules, so he’s not implementing them.
I've written about El Dorado County, population 181,058 and definitely metropolitan by OMB population standards, many times during the dozen-year history of this blog.  The county lies just about 15 miles east of where I live, where far eastern Sacramento County meets El Dorado County in a posh and nouveau riche suburb of Greater Sacramento called El Dorado Hills.  Another 15 miles east of that is the county seat, Placerville, known as "old hang town."

Some prior posts about El Dorado County, which stretches many miles east to the Nevada state line, at South Lake Tahoe are hereherehere and here.  The El Dorado County government is famously anti-government, as evinced in this story, where the County Board of Supervisors, voted to support "the grass-roots (and grass-fed) agriculture revolution," and--in particular--local farmers who are bucking state regulations by selling directly to consumers.  You can read more about the county's anti-government (state, federal and international) antics in that post, extending all the way to resistance of the United Nation's Millennium Development goals.

It just so happens that I was in El Dorado County this weekend, and few folks were wearing masks, especially in the southern part of the county, which has been especially spared by the virus.  First, we arrived at the restaurant closest to our cabin in the area of Fairplay to pick up a "to go" order, and no one in the outdoor dining space was wearing a mask--perhaps not surprising because it was outdoors.   I've noticed our NextDoor discussion group for the area features residents from both ends of the masking debate.  I stopped at a farm stand on the way home, but neither the Asian farmer manning the stand nor other customers were wearing masks, so I made a hasty exit in spite of the delicious looking strawberries and blackberries.  In Placerville, I popped into an olive oil vendor where I buy my favorite locally-made red sauce, and all customers were wearing masks and the store keeper was wearing a face shield.  I was also happy to see that many of the Main Street restaurants in Placerville had expanded seating out onto the street parking area, though few customers were availing themselves of that option.  I don't know if more folks were eating inside, but I sure hope these restaurants survive. 

And on this Monday evening as I wrap up this post, this came across my Twitter feed:  that the second most engaged story on FaceBook right now is a Breitbart video of a group of doctors claiming that hydroxychloroquine cures Covid and that "you don't need a mask":
Twitter Feed at 9:00, July 27, 2020
And apropos of nothing related to El Dorado County, I heard a journalist say on Cap Radio's Insight this week that older people are more susceptible to conspiracy theories.

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