Coronavirus Slows in Some Countries
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How have other nations tackled the COVID-19 problem?

Coronavirus Slows in Some Countries

As the COVID-19 pandemic enters its fourth month here in the United States, very little seems to have improved. Many states are in the process of reopening, even though rates of infection, hospitalization, and death from the virus continue to grow. In fact, the nation reached more than 103,000 deaths by the beginning of June. Meanwhile, tests are still very difficult to get, people disagree about whether or not they should have to wear masks in public, and in Michigan, armed protestors stormed the statehouse to demand that their state reopen.

In other parts of the world, however, several other countries have been able to halt the spread of the virus with a significantly smaller death toll. How did they do it? Election Central examines some of the strategies and policies in place in several nations that have managed to accomplish what seems pretty far away here in the U.S: stopping COVID-19.

New Zealand

Back in March, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern didn’t waste any time taking action to stop the spread of the virus in her country. Though there were only a handful of confirmed cases in New Zealand at the time, Ardern closed the borders to travel and immediately began to shut down schools and businesses. But just as important as her actions was her message. Rather than talk about being at “war” with the virus, as so many other leaders did, she instead focused on the idea of teamwork, asking citizens to come together to protect each other from the virus. The positive messaging worked: New Zealand has reported fewer than two dozen COVID-19 deaths and only 1,500 total cases.

South Korea

While South Korea was hit hard and early by the disease–reporting about 750 new cases a day back in late February–they were able to turn the tide and are now down to just a few dozen new cases daily. This is because, like New Zealand, they acted quickly to shut down their borders and to immediately quarantine anyone coming into the country for two weeks. Also like New Zealand, the government’s messaging has proven to be just as important as its actions. South Korea has managed to keep politics out of its response effort. Governmental leaders encourage citizens to engage in safe practices to protect each other, and political parties are left out of the discussion.

Germany

Widespread testing was the key to controlling the spread of COVID-19 in Germany. But decisive leadership played a role here as well. It’s unusual for Chancellor Angela Merkel to give televised speeches, but in mid-March, she did exactly that, urging her citizens to take the threat of coronavirus seriously and to do their part to stop it. Like Prime Minister Ardern in New Zealand, Merkel also emphasized the importance of working together to halt the spread. And the message seems to be working. While the number of reported cases is still high, it’s rapidly moving in the right direction: down.

What Do You Think? What common themes do you notice in the descriptions of the three countries that have successfully managed the coronavirus pandemic? What lessons can the United States learn from these nations?
Valerie Cumming

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