Italian government's warnings about coronavirus aren't misguided
As of Sunday, there are now 5,476 deaths in Italy with no signs that this deadly virus is letting up anytime soon, according to Al Jazeera. Italy has since surpassed China in the number of deaths, which is particularly concerning given the smaller population size of this country. It is now the epicenter of this global pandemic since China’s new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases have decreased.
On Saturday, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte released a statement saying that all nonessential businesses are to be closed until April 3. This comes after the fumbles that the Italian government made at the beginning of this process.
The Italian government was focused on balancing the civil liberties of its citizens while trying to contain the virus, according to The New York Times. It began by closing off towns, to regions and finally the country, but all these measures failed to contain the virus to a manageable pace. Now, the United States is in an eerily similar position.
Consider the recent exchange between Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City and Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.). Cuomo didn't call the new restrictions a “shelter-in-place” order because he worried that mass panic would ensue, according to CNBC. But de Blasio called for an order of this magnitude early on, because he was worried for the safety and the well-being of the members of the city. Already, rifts can be seen in the governing of just one state.
President Donald J. Trump also took too long of a time to respond at a federal level, which has meant that the responsibility of dealing with this pandemic has fallen on the shoulders of individual state governors. States such as New York, California, Nevada, Illinois and Pennsylvania, have all been implementing stronger orders, according to Bloomberg. The problem is getting all of these orders to match one another.
Since the American government has a federal system, with the separation of power from the federal to the state and even town levels, there will be drastic differences in response times and measures. Already, the epicenter of America’s coronavirus cases, New York City, has two leaders that could not agree on one course of action without some bickering.
If Italy is an example to follow by, there is so much more that we can learn from it than the rest of the Western countries in the world. In the early days of the outbreak, Conte and other high officials reported having had over-testing in areas that did not need it. Conte also blames the miscommunication between the government and the residents, unable to convey how dire the situation really was.
Again, there are parallels in this response to that of America’s with the recent spring break controversy down in Florida. Many college students refused to quarantine or practice social distancing while enjoying their spring break at Florida beaches, such as South Beach.
On Monday, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) caved to mounting pressures and criticisms by other states and issued an order to close beaches. Yet, the problem remains that those who did not practice social distancing are potential carriers of COVID-19.
Social influencers, such as Dua Lipa, Taylor Swift and Kylie Jenner, were asked to use their platforms to convey the message to millennials and young adults about how dire the situation really is. Much like Italy, it seems that there is a disconnect between what the government is trying to say and how people are responding to the situation.
This could indicate to the American government that it should follow the example of China and Asian countries that have managed to successfully stem the exponential growth of coronavirus cases. Countries, such as China and South Korea, have been able to use their strict governmental controls to counter the virus. This is a response that America will have more trouble emulating, given the emphasis Americans have over constitutional rights and freedoms.
Now, Asian countries have taken the initiative to help Western countries combatting against the coronavirus. Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu has promised to donate 100,000 masks to the United States weekly, in exchange for 300,000 hazmat suits reserved for Taiwan by the United States, according to NBC News. China is also working closely with European countries to make sure that they get medical supplies through commercial channels.
Although there does seem to be a second wave hitting Asian countries, this cooperation still comes at a time when other nations see the need for a worldwide united response to this pandemic. A photo of Trump’s speech recently went viral where “Chinese” can be clearly seen written over "Corona," making it the “Chinese virus." Instead of spreading animosity or adding misplaced racism to this global pandemic, it would be prudent for Trump to broker more deals cooperating with world leaders instead, so that the long-term effects of COVID-19 can be mitigated to some extent.
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