While the coronavirus continues to ravage the country, with confirmed cases exceeding 1 million and deaths rising by the day, some states are lifting stay at home orders in hopes of salvaging the economy. With so many lives at stake, it’s time the United States looked to those countries in the Asia Pacific region that have successfully controlled the pandemic to figure out how to save ourselves and the economy.
They are now rapidly and successfully suppressing outbreaks of the disease by isolating those who are infected and their contacts who are likely to be infected.
It’s as if there are two worlds.
Meanwhile, the reported rates in Asia and Oceania are considerably lower: Australia, 0.4; China, 0.3; New Zealand, 0.4; South Korea, 0.5; Taiwan, 0.03.
Despite the stark disparities, America seems blind to the strategies other countries have used to control the virus. How is it that one part of the world is succeeding, while the other part refuses to learn the lessons of success?
How have these countries succeeded to date?
Many have adopted nationwide public-health standards, using mobile technologies, professionalism of government, widespread use of face masks and hand sanitizers, and intensive public health services to isolate infected individuals or those likely to be infected.
Testing has played an important role, but has not been the be-all-and-end-all as is sometimes believed in the United States.
Here are the careful and precise words of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. “There is no widespread undetected community transmission in New Zealand. We have won that battle. But we must remain vigilant if we are to keep it that way.”
There are similar success stories across much of the region.
The government also uses apps to monitor people in quarantine, through self-reported symptoms and location tracking. Despite the fact that these apps may raise privacy issues in the United States, the upshot is an economy that is open, albeit cautiously so, together with a suppression of new infections.
The US government has been utterly incapable of learning from these cases of success.
President Donald Trump is incompetent and his appointees at Health and Human Services, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Transport Security Administration have failed to provide leadership. America First has put us first in deaths in the world, with tens of thousands of lives squandered as a result.
We can save ourselves and our economy, if we look to and learn from the achievements of other nations. And if the federal government continues to fail, as seems likely, our governors and mayors must step forward to do the job.