Few people are seen on a street in New York City, the United States, March 19, 2020. (Xinhua/Wang Ying)
According to data released by the Coronavirus Resource Center at Johns Hopkins University, the COVID-19 death toll in the US reached 4,081 as of press time, surpassing China’s. The US reported more than 900 deaths in 24 hours, leading other countries in terms of new daily deaths. These are really sad numbers.
Washington’s mishandling of the epidemic has made Americans pay the price. But given the strength of the US and its ability to coordinate international resources, the country still has a chance to avoid the widely predicted worst-case scenario and save more lives.
Due to national conditions, the US government has yet to form a national mobilization that is needed to battle the novel coronavirus. Although the US has adopted social distancing, it has not been carried out resolutely. The US federal government has been wishing to reopen business by April 12, Easter Sunday, reflecting its serious misjudgment, which will certainly not lead to the right direction.
After having announced the $2 trillion stimulus bill, the US Congress is seeking a new $2 trillion on infrastructure. But as long as the virus is out there, no stimulus bill will work as planned. Washington needs to make more efforts to contain the epidemic, and the economy will revitalize again as soon as the virus is defeated.
It is high time for the US to solidify domestic and foreign strength to combat the coronavirus. After what China has been through in the most arduous period, we’d like to give some suggestions that are widely discussed in China.
First, it’s better late than never. The US should immediately take highest-level restrictions on inter-state travel and traffic in cities hit hard by the virus, so as to limit the flow of people and close contacts among them. In the communities, unnecessary face-to-face contacts should be suspended, while people in cities with a severe epidemic should be forced to stay home.
Never take these measures as autocracy. They are nothing about politics, but a lesson taken from epidemiological experience. Washington doesn’t need to start from scratch as it can refer to countries like China, South Korea, and Italy. As long as the US can get rid of its geopolitical mentality and take lessons from the outside world, it will find a way out.
Second, patients with mild symptoms should be hospitalized. This is a decisive measure to cut the community spread of the novel coronavirus. Hospitals can not only cure people but also isolate the sources of infections. This is why many countries have built makeshift hospitals. Only after patients with mild symptoms are hospitalized will the inflection point appear in the US.
Third, the pandemic must thoroughly be depoliticized. Partisan struggles and Washington’s propaganda campaign to shift blame on China have misled the public and also kidnapped the US government and other political forces. Both the Republicans and Democrats have to think hard over what they should do to put them in a more advantageous position in the upcoming presidential election while considering how to deal with the epidemic. So the most important thing for them is not to reduce deaths, but how to tell stories about deaths.
US society needs to set a common goal that a death toll of 100,000 would by no means be acceptable and all-out efforts must be made to prevent it becoming a reality. Only after they reach such a consensus can there be joint action.
The US should also stop its conflicts with China, creating conditions for cooperation between the two countries to fight the pandemic. China can provide the US urgently needed medical supplies, and the two countries can also effectively cooperate in vaccine development. China has already embarked on clinical trials for the coronavirus vaccine.
The COVID-19 pandemic clearly shows that the biggest threat to the US is no longer from geopolitics, but from the natural world, as it is the case to all people. Reflections on this fact will inevitably influence the reconstruction of the world order after the pandemic. As long as the US faces up to this fact, it can concentrate its strength to launching a decisive battle against the coronavirus.