Is there any place in America that hasn’t been hit by the coronavirus? Yes, but you have to travel far to get there (and you can’t get in anyway)

american samoa coronavirus
Photo via U.S. Department of the Interior/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)

Every state in the contiguous U.S.— and yes, Hawaii and Alaska too— has had fair shares of COVID-19 cases. Currently, records for new cases are still being set, and the country on Dec 9 surpassed the 3,000 daily death mark.. But is there anywhere in the U.S. that hasn’t been touched by the pandemic? Technically, yes, but American Samoa is closed to most travelers, including citizens waiting to be repatriated. American Samoa’s coronavirus response has been effective so far, and its leaders want to keep it that way.

The U.S. territory has remained closed since Mar. 13 at the order of Samoa Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga. American Samoa has yet to report any cases of COVID-19.

Even residents of American Samoa aren’t allowed to return, according to the Associated Press. Those who came to the U.S. mainland from American Samoa for vacations, work, or medical treatment have been left stranded because of the coronavirus. In 2019, the island experienced a deadly measles outbreak and had already tightened its travel restrictions before COVID-19 arrived. The measles outbreak affected thousands of children with dozens reported dead. 

In the first week of November 2020, an incoming ship’s crew members tested positive for COVID-19, leaving Samoan (not American Samoa) authorities to question whether they got off the boat. Docked in the port city of Apia, the New Zealand Herald reported that all healthcare workers who tended to the ship’s crew were required to quarantine for two weeks. Even after that, the WHO maintains that American Samoa still has zero cases.

Although it’s been reported that Moliga is reviewing petitions for repatriation from stranded citizens, he has also asked to suspend flights to the island via Hawaiian Airlines, one of the only airlines with consistent travel to American Samoa, through November. 

According to the U.S. Embassy, “supermarkets, produce and fish markets, schools and universities [in American Samoa] are open. Weekly church services are permitted, social distancing of two meters must be observed.

Wedding and funeral services are allowed, given attendance is restricted to 50 couples and social distancing is maintained. Public transport is also widely available. The government continues to maintain restrictions for public operating hours and large gatherings.”

Read more on traveling during the pandemic:

Sources: Associated Press, New Zealand Herald, New York Times, U.S. Embassy in Samoa

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