Slab City, CA has become a free national refugee camp from coronavirus because it's an isolated oasis of hot sand on the Coachella Canal. We have people here who have been displaced, lost their jobs, couldn't pay their mortgages, or heard that the desert is the place to be in an epidemic and that land is free in the Slabs. Because of the virus our dry town is thriving with their influx of money for the first time in decades.

Yesterday Imperial County, CA, in which the Slabs sits smack in the middle, made the national news as the county with the most deaths per capita in the nation. Now the Corona refugees don't know what to do. Is this last bastion now their biggest threat?

The opposite it true. However, no one knows why unless they go to the source of the virus 50 miles south to Mexicali, Mexico. That congested city with a population of one million is rampant with the infected who flee to the US side for treatment in Imperial County where the county population is a fifth that at 200.000. I just came from Mexicali. Thousands of workers and students live here and commute daily across the border into Imperial County to work, go to school, shop, and visit their relatives. The reason is it costs about one-sixth to live south of the border, while earning five-times more money and enjoying the US infrastructure.

They are Mexican residents with US addresses at the same mail centers that I use on this side of the border, or many use relatives' address to maintain their US residence. These cross-overs by foot and car who harbor the virus come to use the hospitals, colleges, schools, work places, Social Security, and have their business in California. Then they return for the night or weekend to Mexicali to pick up the virus.

People I have known for years in Mexicali told me the citizens who get sick all enter the US for superior medical treatment or to stay with their relatives with air conditioning. Mexicali is a huge town with five times as many people as our entire county. 'You stupid gringos,' a resident confided, 'don't know the inflated figures for Imperial County corona deaths are from Mexicali.'

Imperial County is still one of the safest counties to stay if you keep out of the border towns of Calexico and El Centro and especially their hospitals. With one of the lowest density populations, Imperial is a safe place. And countywide the oasis of Slab City is your best bet to wait out the epidemic.


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