For the past two weeks, your newsletter has been edited from a cabin on the outskirts of White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, where the Pickler family enjoyed a remote summer vacation getaway for our socially distanced times.
The Allegheny Mountain destination is just 250 miles from Washington, but a world away in terms of outlook on the pandemic. The locals seem very much in touch with President Trump’s way of thinking.
The polling and outlook from D.C. is that Trump’s campaign may be on the ropes. But during 15 days of exploring southeastern West Virginia for hiking and biking, there was not a single Biden for President bumper sticker or yard sign to be seen. But plenty of large and enthusiastic displays touted the president’s re-election.
Face covering inside local businesses was common, under an executive order Republican Gov. Jim Justice signed a month ago mandating indoor mask use as the state’s case rate spiked. But complaining about the requirement was widespread as well.
Locals your editor encountered frequently expressed skepticism that the outbreak is as bad as media is reporting. The number of cases in the area remains low despite a percentage increase statewide – Greenbrier County has only seen three deaths and 87 confirmed cases in total.
Residents offered myriad theories about why a COVID hoax would be perpetrated. A popular idea seemed to be that it’s to force mail-in voting that will cause Trump to lose the election.
Trump himself is using the pandemic to raise questions about the legitimacy of the election and still refuses to say he will accept results.
And at least here in this bucolic locale, he appears he could have support in that stance.