Coronavirus: Comparing Chinese and U.S. Responses

China has received high praise from the World Health Organization for its response to coronavirus. The United States has barely responded at all. 

China contains the outbreak

China’s response to coronavirus has been excellent, despite facing more challenges than any other nation. For example, Wuhan, where the virus first appeared, has a population of over 11 million and is centrally located among China’s extensive public transportation system. Additionally, China has one of the highest population densities in the world with 146 people per kilometer. Most significant of all, because the virus started in China, Chinese authorities had the tough job of first identifying the new disease. Despite these obstacles, China was able to move quickly and efficiently to control the virus.

From the first identified cases of coronavirus in mid-December, it took less than a month for Chinese authorities to identify it as a new pathogen. The World Health Organization was notified about the outbreak on Jan. 3rd, and provided the virus’s entire genome sequence on Jan. 10th. Using that genome, Chinese companies both developed and distributed testing kits to stricken areas. In late January, China’s Politburo mandated that every citizen receive the highest level of treatment regardless of cost. Hospitals were used for the most serious cases, while 14 temporary hospitals were set up for less severe cases. By January 23rd, the province of Hubei was put under a quarantine. Great effort was made to identify and isolate anyone who had close contact with an infected person. In total, over 57 million people were put on lockdown. Even drones with loudspeakers were used to tell people to stay inside. On Jan. 24th, construction began on two brand new hospitals. They were completed in 10 days and 14 days respectively. Heroic efforts were made by Chinese healthcare workers, 42 thousand of which were brought into Hubei from across China. These workers showed tremendous spirit, making TikTok’s and posing with the hammer and sickle communist flag when they weren’t saving lives. Even 40 doctors from the People’s Liberation Army were deployed to help. Additionally, 65 thousand pieces of medical equipment, including ventilators and ECMOs (artificial lungs) were sent to Hubei. The World Health Organization praised China’s response saying “In the face of a previously unknown virus, China has rolled out perhaps the most ambitious, agile and aggressive disease containment effort in history.”

Today, China is experiencing declining cases and lifting the quarantine in certain areas. This phenomenal response has ensured that deaths and infections were minimized. In total, around 80 thousand people total have been infected with 1,300 dead. 

The U.S. let’s people die

Halfway around the world, the U.S. response has been atrocious. In the midst of China’s quarantine, the U.S. government repatriated officials from infected areas over the objections of China’s government. American workers assisted these officials without protective gear.  Instead of preparing for the eventual spread to the United States, American officials repeatedly downplayed the severity of the outbreak. On Jan. 22nd, Donald Trump said “We have it totally under control.” A month later, he said “we pretty much shut it down coming in from China” and that “It’s going to disappear.” Four days later, a California resident began receiving treatment. for the first domestically transmitted case of coronavirus. . 

It wasn’t until March, after Americans began dying and spreading the virus, that a few states declared states of emergency. Despite having months to prepare, there is an extreme lack of available tests. While testing has supposedly been waived for people with insurance, 27.5 million Americans are uninsured and presumably have no access to these tests. What little tests are available have gone to the super wealthy. For example, 20% of all available tests in the state of Oklahoma were given to the Utah Jazz professional basketball team. Testing is only one part of the problem though. Even many insured Americans cannot afford the costs of treatment  if they are fortunate enough to get tested. Rather, the most notable U.S. response has been to protect the financial assets of the super wealthy. On March 3rd, the government slashed the interest rate by half a percentage, the largest emergency rate cut since 2008. On March 12th, the government dumped $1.5 trillion into the stock market. For context, the total federal budget is about $4.7 trillion, meaning that the equivalent of a third of the entire federal budget went directly to Wall Street without any legislative oversight. 

Estimates for just how bad things are going to get run the gauntlet from bad to apocalyptic. On the apocalyptic side, a recent assessment by the American Hospital Association estimates there will be 96 million cases of coronavirus and 480 thousand deaths within two months.

Why the Discrepancy?

China’s government is primarily concerned with the wellbeing of all its citizens. The U.S. government is primarily concerned with the wellbeing of its extremely wealthy citizens. This is the fundamental reason for the markedly different response to the coronavirus pandemic. This fact is especially apparent in how the rival  governments have treated other nations facing outbreaks. China has sent experts and medical aid to Italy, Spain, Iran, Iraq, among other nations. A few days ago, the U.S. bombed Iraq. Equally damning, the U.S. has imposed murderous sanctions on Iran that make it difficult for Iran to acquire food, medicine and medical equipment. It is crises like this pandemic that expose the true character of nation states. China has demonstrated it cares for its citizens, and the citizens of the world. The United States has exposed itself as the murderous regime it is.

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