No COVID-19 here: Life in areas with 0 confirmed coronavirus cases

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Monday, April 27, 2020
No COVID-19 here: Life in areas with 0 confirmed coronavirus cases
ABC's Matt Gutman traveled to Platte County, Wyoming, an area with zero confirmed coronavirus cases.

WHEATLAND, Wyoming -- The coronavirus pandemic has hit small businesses particularly hard, with owners struggling to make ends meet as social distancing regulations force most to change the way they operate.

Yet Dan Brecht, owner Wandering Hermit Books, says his store is doing just fine.

"We've done pretty well. People who don't have anything to do read books or they want to get a jigsaw puzzle," he said.

Brecht's store is in Platte County, Wyoming, which has a population of 9,000 and zero confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Most locals aren't surprised by this. They say they have been social distancing for their entire lives, because places like this are so rural.

Wyoming is ordering a two-week quarantine for those coming in from out of state.

"We're going to treat you like you have the plague. Sorry about that, but that's the way it is. We're careful with every person around," said Terry Stevenson, Platte County's emergency management coordinator.

This experience is similar to other parts of rural America. In Colorado, highways saw dense traffic late Friday, and South Dakota, a waterpark remained open.

Others are fleeing from their coronavirus-stricken communities to national parks. Jeff Karll and his family, for example, traveled to South Dakota's Mount Rushmore from Iowa.

"If it's open, I don't feel bad about using it ... If people didn't want to be around other people, then don't go to public places," he said.

South Dakota has no shelter in place orders, like seven other states. Store owners said they're noticing tourists come through the area.

The Cedar Pass Campground in Jackson County, where there are also zero COVID-19 cases, was at capacity last weekend. Campers there are careful to distance themselves, said campground caretaker Gio Faviola.

"They're just on the road, trying to stay isolated and coming here ... we're trying to keep everybody safe and apart," she said.