Lassen’s reaction to pandemic highlighted in Forbes magazine

Lassen County’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has attracted the attention of Forbes magazine and may, in fact be a harbinger of the nation’s future.

According to a Dec. 17 story by William A. Haseltine titled “Why COVID-19 is overwhelming California,” “California has become a microcosm of broader developments taking shape across the U.S.” and our experience may reflect what the future holds as the public battles the pandemic.

According to the magazine, “In the fields and factories where social distancing, frequent handwashing, and other safety guidelines are difficult to enforce, and in the crowded households and dormitory-style complexes where many migrant workers live, the virus has considerably more room to grow. And because this virus isn’t one to discriminate between viable human hosts, outbreaks that occur under poor working conditions will find a way to spread into the cities, suburbs and beyond.”

And then comes the mention of Lassen County.

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“In the rural north, the situation isn’t much better,” Forbes wrote. “Lassen County, where more COVID-19 cases per 100,000 have been confirmed in the past week than anywhere else in the state, is struggling to contain an ongoing outbreak at High Desert State Prison, where active cases currently outnumber those in local communities. About a fifth of the prison’s population has tested positive for COVID-19, as have 160 staff members. Given that Lassen County also has the designation of being the ‘Trumpiest county’ in California, meaning residents voted for Trump by the widest margin in this year’s presidential election, public health measures like mask-wearing likely aren’t so popular.”

According to Forbes, “Some individuals will no doubt choose to defy public health guidelines willingly. As California Senator Richard Pan put it to the Los Angeles Times, ‘We can’t save people from themselves after a certain point.’ But those we can help, we should. Simple as that.”