Corona virus presents an increased risk to those already suffering from
a respiratory disease, persons with asbestos disease and mesothelioma
are at a much higher risk for severe complications if exposed to COVID-19.
NPR spoke with residents of Libby Montana, home of a now defunct vermiculite
mine and the nation’s deadliest superfund site. One in ten residents
of Libby has an asbestos related illness or cancer. The county public
health officer has issued an order that requires people to wear masks
in public, which is more stringent than the rest of the state.
Like the rest of the country Libby has had to abide by government restrictions
on events and businesses. The local economy relies on large public events
which draw in tourists from around the country. Libby had grown accustomed
to one invisible enemy, and they must now grapple with a new one. Residents
are frustrated and afraid.